Tiger's lead up to 3 going into Zozo final round

CHIBA, Japan — Tiger Woods is 18 holes away from matching one of the PGA Tour’s most esteemed records.

Woods overcame an opening-hole bogey Sunday morning at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club to shoot 4-under-par 66 in the third round of the Zozo Championship, building a three-shot advantage over Hideki Matsuyama through 54 holes of the first PGA Tour event in Japan.

The winner of 81 PGA Tour events including this year’s Masters, Woods has never failed to win when leading by at least three strokes heading into the final round. He made six birdies and two bogeys.

The fourth round was underway when Woods finished, and he has a 1 a.m. ET (Sunday) tee time for the fourth round. He is expected to get in approximately nine holes before darkness falls.

A victory would be the 82nd of his PGA Tour career, tying him with Hall of Famer Sam Snead, who was given credit for his record-setting total at the 1965 Greensboro Open, when he also became the oldest player in PGA Tour to win at age 52.

Woods, 43, has some pretty good history on his side.

He has converted a 54-hole lead 54 out of 58 times on the PGA Tour, including 43 of 45 times when he was the outright leader. The only times he has failed to follow through with a victory was at the 1996 Quad Cities Open and the 2009 PGA Championship. He has never blown a 54-hole lead of more than two strokes.

Woods completed 54 holes at 194, 16 under par.

It still doesn’t figure to be easy. Matsuyama, who has five PGA Tour victories and 12 in his native Japan, is a massive figure in his own country and rivals Woods in popularity. He is currently ranked 27th in the world after getting as high as No. 2 two years ago. He shot 65.

Xander Schauffele, Billy Horschel, Corey Conners and Gary Woodland — who was two strokes back at the start of the round — were five back at 11 under par.

With Friday’s play being postponed due to heavy rains, the tournament was striving to get in as many holes possible Sunday so a Monday finish can end in the morning. The fourth round is to be suspended by darkness, with everyone returning to their spots on the course Monday morning at 7:30 (6:30 p.m. ET Sunday).

This is Woods’ first PGA Tour start of the 2019-20 season and his first event since the BMW Championship in August.

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