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Tiger Woods tied for lead in Abu Dhabi Championship

Tiger Woods fired a six-under par 66 Saturday. After three rounds, Tiger Woods is now tied with Britain's Robert Rock for the lead of the Abu Dhabi Championship.

By Tony JimenezReuters / January 28, 2012

Tiger Woods watches his shot from the second tee during the third round of the Abu Dhabi Championship January 28, 2012.

REUTERS/Nikhil Monteiro

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Abu Dhabi

 A host of pinpoint golf shots and a deadly touch with the putter helped Tiger Woods to move within sight of his first victory in a full-field event for more than two years at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Saturday.

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The former world No. 1 was kitted out in grey shirt and trousers but there was nothing grey about his game as he fired a sizzling six-under-par 66 to join Britain's Robert Rock (66) in a tie for the lead on 11-under 205.

Swede Peter Hanson returned the best round of the week, a 64, giving him a share of third place on 207 with world number three Rory McIlroy (68), fellow Briton Paul Lawrie (68) and Italian Francesco Molinari (66).

IN PICTURES: Tiger Woods through the years

There was a logjam at the top, with the leading 14 players separated by four shots.

 Woods, who ended a two-year title drought by winning last month's Chevron World Challenge limited-field event in California, refused to get carried away with his six-birdie display at the European Tour event.

"I was just kind of consistent today," the American said in understated fashion. "I didn't do a whole lot wrong and didn't do a whole lot right.

"I played methodically, just plotted my way round the golf course and the birdies just piled up."

With hardly any wind on another hot day at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, scoring improved and at one point there were eight players tied for the lead.

Woods went to the top of the leaderboard on his own by rolling in a 15-foot birdie putt at the 14th.

He kept his errors to a minimum throughout, a feature of his performances this week, and has now carded just two bogeys in 54 holes.

His distance control with his woods and irons evoked memories of the record 623 weeks he spent as world number one and his putting stroke was pure and positive.

The 25th-ranked Woods gave an ironic 'great shot' cry when he played a rare poor tee shot 60 feet right of the pin at the 15th but he managed to get down in two for his par three.

GLORIOUS APPROACH

The 36-year-old then finished his round with a flourish, shaping a glorious five-wood approach from left to right at the par-five 18th and safely two-putting from 60 feet to claim his sixth birdie of a flawless round.

With a plethora of players waiting to pounce on any slip, Woods knows he will have to be aggressive in Sunday's final round.

"There are so many guys up there I'm going to have to post a good number," he said. "It's not like I can just go round and shoot par."

Rock, who won his first tour event at last year's Italian Open, crammed five birdies into the last nine holes and the bearded Englishman was thrilled at the prospect of playing alongside Woods on the last day.

"I can't wait," said the 34-year-old, who was an unknown club professional nine years ago. "I might not get too many opportunities to do that."

Asked if he had ever imagined playing alongside one of golf's greatest players, he replied: "No, not in a million years. Not long ago I was working in a golf shop, selling Mars bars and watching him win majors on television.

"Tomorrow is going to be pretty cool. I'm just going to enjoy the opportunity."

McIlroy, who incurred a two-shot penalty for using his hand to brush away sand on the fringe of the ninth green on Friday, was involved in a lengthy rules discussion for the second day running.

The U.S. Open champion hit a wayward drive way right into the desert scrub at the 18th and had to ask the referee if he was allowed to aim further right for his next shot without going out of bounds.

McIlroy took an eventful route up the last hole but a par five kept him in touch with the leaders.

World number two Lee Westwood will look to make a last-day charge after shooting a 68 for 212 but top-ranked Luke Donald is out of title contention after sliding to a 73 for 216.

(Editing by Clare Fallon. To comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

IN PICTURES: Tiger Woods through the years

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