With play being canceled due to darkness, Tiger Woods stands just 7 holes away from achieving golfs greatest achievement. With 81 total PGA tour victories, he stands just one shy of tying Sam Snead's all-time record of 82.
Woods left Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in darkness Sunday night. When he returns Monday morning, it won't be much lighter. This is typically a worst-case scenario for Woods, who doesn't do well with marathon days on the golf course followed by early wake-up calls.
Having to play 29 holes Sunday was certainly not ideal for Woods, whose back problems and other maladies have been well chronicled. Heck, Woods is playing his first event since Aug. 20 knee surgery that didn't allow him to practice until about a month ago. Long bouts of standing are tough on the back, and walking a wet golf course is no bargain, either.
And yet, Woods has looked amazingly good, far better than at any time since he won the Masters this year. Nobody would have been surprised if this week had been a struggle, especially given the physical woes he had to overcome, coupled with the never-ending struggles the golf swing, short game and putting present to players who are not sharp.
After rounds of 64-64-66 gave him a 3-shot advantage heading into the final round, it might have been nice for Woods to relax with some therapy and the knowledge he had another day to get the job done.
Instead, after a short break, he went right back at it and managed to increase his advantage over the chasing Hideki Matsuyama, who has done his best to challenge Woods' popularity in his homeland but has not quite been able to match Woods' firepower -- despite his last two birdies.
Woods has made 25 birdies so far and just seven bogeys. His iron game has been as good as at any time since the Masters, where he led the field in greens in regulation on his way to winning a fifth green jacket. The short game, typically rusty after a layoff, has been spot on. And Woods has made a ton of putts, never once needing as many as 30 putts in any round.
It will be another early morning, but the reward after a long week in Japan is right there, the most unlikely of victories for Woods and a record-tying one at that.