It was the type of finishing flourish his fans have hoped to see again, the ball from Tiger Woods' eight-iron arcing toward the 18th green, then landing a mere foot from the pin for an easy birdie.
The crowd behind the green at Sherwood Country Club erupted, Woods tapped in and, with three rounds of the Chevron World Challenge in the books, the world's most famous and scandal-tainted golfer was poised to win his first tournament in a year.
Woods shot a four-under-par 68 on the Thousand Oaks course Saturday to maintain a four-shot lead over his playing partner, U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, heading into Sunday's final round, when they'll be paired together again.
With rounds of 65-66-68, Woods was 17 under par at 199 and has led since the start. McDowell was 13 under after a 68 and their nearest competitor was Englishman Paul Casey, who was nine under.
"I'm excited about tomorrow because of the way I've been playing," Woods said. "This is going to be a fun test."
That includes a test of whether Woods can maintain the most consistent good play he has shown since returning to competitive golf last April after the scandal of his extramarital affairs.
Woods — with 71 PGA Tour victories, including 14 major championships — has been winless since his return and hasn't won a tournament wire to wire since 2006.
Yet despite adapting to a new swing and new putter, Woods made only three bogeys through three rounds at Sherwood. And on Saturday, he overcame a bogey on the par-five second hole with birdies on holes No. 5, 6 and 7 and finished with six birdies for the round.
"It was a pretty good day overall," he said, adding that "I'm just in the moment trying to put the golf ball on the different sides of the fairway [and] where I need to put it on the green."
Woods also noted a couple of pivotal moments when the momentum easily could have swung to McDowell.
That included the par-four 14th hole, where Woods hit his approach shot into a left-side bunker, from which he blasted the ball 18 feet past the pin for a difficult par putt. McDowell's second shot, meanwhile, landed about six feet away for a potential birdie — creating a situation in which McDowell might gain two shots on Woods.
Instead, Woods sank his putt and McDowell missed his, leaving both players with pars and protecting Woods' lead.
McDowell also made birdie on the 18th hole to match Woods' 68. It was McDowell's fifth birdie of the round against only one bogey, on the par-four seventh hole.
"I've got to get off to a fast start" to catch Woods on Sunday, said McDowell, who last year lost the tournament by one shot to Jim Furyk.
Casey, meanwhile, had an eagle and four birdies on the front nine. But he also had a double bogey on the par-three eighth hole and settled for a three-under 69.
Rory McIlroy, the 21-year-old who started Saturday five shots behind Woods, had a wild day that included four consecutive birdies, a double bogey and a triple-bogey seven on the final hole. He finished with a 73 and was seven under for the tournament.
Furyk was voted the PGA Tour player of the year for the first time on the strength of his three victories and FedEx Cup title.