Woods has not played in the Open since 2015 due to injury and is without a victory since 2013, while the last of his 14 major titles to date came a decade ago in the US Open.
But the 42-year-old has made a remarkable return to action since undergoing spinal fusion surgery last April, and a third round of 66 at Carnoustie certainly had his legion of fans believing in what had once seemed impossible.
“It seemed like everybody was shooting six, seven under and I figured I could probably do the same and I needed to with the leaders starting at six. I need to go get it,” Woods said. “It’s one of my better rounds I’ve played. I felt I really had control of the ball.”
Starting the day six shots off the lead after two rounds of 71, Woods birdied the fourth and sixth before holing from 40 feet for another on the ninth to reach the turn in 33.
A brilliant approach to the 10th set up a tap-in birdie and despite looking unconvincing with the driver, the former world number then unleashed a superb tee shot on the 11th which finished just a few feet left of the green.
From there Woods two-putted from long range for another birdie and when he did the same on the par-five 14th, he was tied for the lead in a major championship for the first time since the second round of the 2013 Masters.
A bogey on the 16th halted the charge but Woods enjoyed a massive slice of luck on the 18th, where his tee shot seemed destined to find the Barry Burn only to take a fortunate bounce to the right to stay on dry land.
After pitching back on to the fairway Woods hit a superb third shot to two feet to crucially save par and finish a shot behind clubhouse leader Francesco Molinari, who carded a flawless 65.
Former champion Zach Johnson and compatriot Kevin Kisner were setting the pace at eight under par midway through their rounds, with defending champion Jordan Spieth a shot behind.
“It kept me in the fight,” Woods added. “If the guys get to 10 (under), five back is certainly do-able. I didn’t want to drop that last shot. I played so well today I don’t feel like I should have shot four under.”
England’s Justin Rose is a shot behind Woods after earlier equalling the lowest score in an Open at Carnoustie with a brilliant 64.
Rose, who finished fourth in the Open as a 17-year-old amateur 20 years ago, birdied the 18th hole on Friday evening to make the halfway cut with nothing to spare on three over par.
And the Olympic champion carried on where he left off on Saturday, taking advantage of benign conditions to fire seven more birdies to match the 64s recorded by Steve Stricker and Richard Green the last time Carnoustie staged the Open in 2007.
“It was massive to take advantage today,” Rose said after the lowest score of his career in any major. “I was very excited last night not to be down the road, ruing another Open opportunity gone. I picked up where I left off and it was a great day’s work.”
Hello, it’s David Cooper here giving you a bitesize look at what’s going on this afternoon.
The third round of The Open Championship is under way at Carnoustie, with Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner taking a share of the lead at six under par into the day.
Johnson, who is looking to become the first player in history to win major titles at Augusta, St Andrews and Carnoustie, shot 67 on Friday to jump to the top of the leaderboard.
Tommy Fleetwood, meanwhile, carded the only bogey-free round of the day as his 65 shot him into contention and placed him just one shot back.
Read more about the action from the second round here.
Barcelona are heating up their pursuit of Chelsea midfielder Willian, with the Spanish giants lodging a third bid worth £55 million for the 29-year-old winger, according to Sky Sports. Check out more on the situation in our Rumour Mill.
With Real Madrid also in hot pursuit of another Chelsea playmaker, our man Brendon Netto took a look at three key targets for Los Blancos as they attempt to fill the sizable void left behind by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Fakhar Zaman made history in Friday’s ODI victory over Zimbabwe, knocking an unbeaten 210 to become the first Pakistan batman to record a double century. He was also involved in a 304-run opening stand with Imam-ul-Haq, which is now the highest first-wicket partnership in ODI cricket. Read more on Zaman’s incredible performance here.
UAE Team Emirates’ Alexander Kristoff nearly pulled off a victory on stage 13 of the Tour de France on Friday, finishing just behind Peter Sagan on a sprint finish.
In the AGL, former Chelsea striker Adrian Mutu has been appointed new coach of Al Wahda’s reserves.
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Sandy Lyle’s Open career ended with a brilliant birdie on the 18th which left the former champion on cloud nine.
A second round of 76 at Carnoustie meant Lyle missed the halfway cut for the ninth time in his last 10 appearances, but the 60-year-old signed off in style by holing from 25 feet on the last.
“That’s a great way to finish,” said 1985 champion Lyle, who pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and waved it to the crowd before pretending to dab away a tear.
“I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th.
“It was not an easy second shot from the right-hand side of the fairway. There’s not much to land the ball on.
Coming in from the right-hand side like I was, it was quite a challenge. But to make birdie was extra special.
“I managed to stay away from crying, but definitely a lump in the throat, yeah. Definitely.”
Past champions can play in the Open until they are 60 and Lyle could still qualify for a return by winning next week’s Senior Open at St Andrews, but the likelihood of this being his last appearance meant he was given the honour of hitting the opening shot on Thursday.
“In 40-odd plus years I’ve played in the tournament, to have the pleasure of doing the opening tee shot was quite special to me,” Lyle, who made his Open debut in 1974, said. “It shows that they care and they appreciate what I’ve done over the years.
“There’s always a chance I could play my way back into the tournament. I will try. I won’t totally, totally give up. But it seems like it’s the last Open for me as far as turning up. I’ll have to work to get back in again.
“I have no regrets. I’ve had a good run. If qualifying is up here in Scotland and I’m living up here, I might just give it a run in the next few years. That would be it.”