Patrick Reed leads, Tiger Woods lurks in the shadows at WGC-Cadillac Championship in Doral

Here’s some quick advice to young Patrick Reed as he heads into Sunday’s final round as the leader in the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.

Don’t study that leaderboard too much.

There are some scary names lurking there, including one in particular.

That would be Tiger Woods.

Woods moved very much into contention to defend his title by shooting Saturday’s best round on the Blue Monster at Trump National Doral with a 6-under-par 66 for a 1-under 215 total, just three shots off the lead.

Reed, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour but still a relative newcomer at age 23, seemed unfazed by the company he’s keeping as he played a steady and confident round Saturday to record a 3-under 69 that gave him a 4-under total of 212 through three rounds.

On Sunday, if he so desires, Reed will easily be able to keep track of Woods. Tiger will be the guy in the red shirt in the group in front of him.

“That’s fine,” Reed said of Woods’ close proximity.

“I’ve seen Tiger a lot on the driving range but never have had the opportunity to play with him and still won’t.

“I have to go out and just play my own game. I’m not getting ahead of myself, and I’m not trying to play against other people.”

At 6-0, 200-plus pounds, Reed is a big guy and was asked if he worked out often.

Apparently not.

“I’d rather lay in bed and watch TV than get in the gym,” he admitted. “I don’t really watch what I eat. Just kind of live life and feel like if I work hard at the golf course … that has worked out for me.”

Reed, who attended the University of Georgia and Augusta State University, will have more than Woods to hold off on Sunday.

Tied for second, two shots back of Reed and one stroke ahead of Woods, are Jason Dufner (68), who attended St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale, and Hunter Mahan (71). Tied with Woods for fourth is Jamie Donaldson (71).

All day, Woods seemingly was climbing up, up and up on the leaderboard.

“I’m right there,” Woods said.

“It was nice to get back in the tournament again.”

Of his bad lower back that made him pull out of the Honda Classic a week ago and threatened to keep him out of the Cadillac event, Woods said: “I was pretty sore Friday night, but as I said, treatment every day helps, and my therapists are doing a fantastic job getting me out here and playing.”

Woods, 38, was asked if he is able to get through a round without thinking about his back.

He gave a quick, one-word response: “No.”

Woods birdied three of the first five holes and four of the first eight to finish the front nine in 3-under 33, then matched that score on the back nine with birdies on 11, 12, 15 and 16 with a bogey thrown in on the 13th.

One other big-name golfer, Phil Mickelson, also had a good day, shooting a 3-under 69 after making the turn at 2-over 38.

His 2-over 218 total for three rounds leaves him six shots back, but even he doubts whether he can win the tournament.

“There are so many guys ahead of me [13]; it’s not like just one or two guys can fall back,” Mickelson said.

“It’s not really my biggest concern right now. I don’t want to get worried about the result this week, but it is crunch time with Augusta right around the corner.”

The wind calmed down considerably at the Blue Monster on Saturday, as did the golfers who were complaining long and loudly on Friday about the course being too tough, some saying it was pretty much unplayable.

With winds gusting near 40 miles per hour on Friday, the scoring average was 76.0.

On Saturday, with perfect weather conditions, the scoring average dropped to 72.574.

“I think the course is really close to being great,” Mickelson said, “but you still have to have options when the conditions [meaning the wind] do get difficult. The wind has tended to happen quite often over the 20 years I’ve been coming here.”

Woods offered his opinion.

“Now, it’s playing more like a normal course,” he said. “Friday was certainly not what we all intended it to be. [Saturday], it’s so much more playable.”

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