AKRON, Ohio — It took all of two days to understand the weekend belonged to Tiger Woods.
So at the Bridgestone Invitational on Saturday, all Woods needed to do was act human.
That he did, shooting a 2-under 68 to keep his seven-stroke lead built via a career-tying 61 in the second round.
Now, Woods was far from remarkable in the third. He was just good, and that was good enough.
“You know, today was a day that I didn’t quite have it,” said Woods. “But I scored. And that’s the name of the game, posting a number, and I did today. I grinded my way around that golf course.”
For all his struggles and majors meltdowns of late, Woods typically finds solace in World Golf Championships such as this one at Firestone Country Club. He’s ended up in the top 10 a whopping 17 times in such events, including 17 first-place finishes.
As for Firestone specifically, Woods has won here four straight (2005-09) and three straight (1999-2001) times. But as you can see by the dates, it’s been a while.
Mostly, it’s been a while since Woods ruled any course anywhere like this, leaving second place as the only real mystery heading into the final round.
“It’s kind of tough to pick up seven or eight shots on Tiger,” said Henrik Stenson, who sits in second with an 8-under 202. “It would take something spectacular on my behalf, or any of the other guys around me, and obviously a very, very poor round for him.”
Jason Dufner is eight strokes back and in third, followed by Luke Donald, Bill Haas and Chris Wood, each at 6-under.
Woods birdied the first two holes Saturday, both in somewhat remarkable fashion. He drained a 12-foot putt on the first and two-putted from 40 feet out on the second. Basically, if anyone had any illusions of a collapse, Woods sunk them quickly.
After that, it was basically a bunch of pars (and a bogey) — but after his second round, none of that really mattered.
“It ended up being a dead push for the day,” Woods said.
A push for Woods, an insurmountable climb for everyone else.
• Should Woods maintain the lead and win Sunday, it will mark his 79th in 290 PGA Tour starts. This would also mark his 10th season with at least five first-place finishes.
• With a victory, Woods will also maintain his lead in the FedEx Cup standings with 3,031. He has already won 12 times in the state of Ohio.
• Meanwhile, Haas is tied with Brandt Snedeker for most top-10 finishes in 2013 with eight apiece.
• Woods, Stenson, Keegan Bradley and Martin Kaymer each played bogey-free golf in the first two rounds. No one did Saturday. Bradley won the Bridgestone last summer. Woods and Adam Scott are the other previous Bridgestone champs in the current field.
• The Bridgestone takes place on the heels of next week’s PGA Championship. “Any time you can go into a major tournament with a win under your belt, it’s nice,” Woods said. “It validates what you’re working on and you have some nice momentum going in there.”