(Reuters) - Tiger Woods rekindled a touch of his old magic to compile his best score of the year, a five-under-par 65, in the third round at the Honda Classic in Florida on Saturday.
Woods, who teed off at 7:38 a.m., took advantage of the ideal early conditions to compile seven birdies at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens.
It was easily his lowest score in 10 rounds this year and it easily could have been better because he missed a couple of short birdie putts.
On the other hand, he also made a couple of long-range putts from outside 25 feet, as well as a chip-in birdie from 18 yards at the 11th hole.
"Played well today, felt a lot better," Woods told reporters.
"Yesterday I didn't hit the ball very well. Today I struck the ball well and made some putts (but) I missed my share as well. I just had a good feel (on the greens)."
Woods, who made the cut with nothing to spare on Friday, posted a five-under 205 total, which was likely to be a long way behind at the end of the day. Rory McIlroy was the halfway leader at 11-under.
Nevertheless, with the Masters only six weeks away, it was a much needed tonic for the world number one, whose mediocre form in his sporadic appearances this year had been cause for concern in some quarters.
He had only 23 putts, but this impressive figure does not tell the whole story. The main reason he had so few putts was because he hit his approach shots so much closer to the hole, on average, than on Friday.
He made a confidence-boosting start with a 16-foot birdie at the first hole, but a bogey at the fourth halted his early momentum.
But then the putter got hot, as he rolled in a 37-foot birdie at the fifth hole and a 25-footer at the seventh. He followed that up by sinking a 15-footer to save par at the eighth hole.
After a bogey at the ninth, Woods started the back nine with two successive birdies and also picked up shots at the 14th and 15th after precise approach shots.
He failed to convert good birdie chances at the final two holes, but it was nonetheless a good morning's work by the 14 times major winner.
(Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina)