Woods surges into lead at Buick Open

Tiger Woods acknowledges the crowd after a long birdie on 17 Saturday afternoon. / Rob Herman

Tiger Woods drained a 33-foot, 4-inch putt for birdie on the par-3 17th hole en route to a 7-under 65, good for a one-stroke lead over Michael Letzig (68) and a two-stroke cushion over second-round leader John Senden (71).

This represents the 50th time that Tiger Woods has held the 54-hole lead/co-lead during his career, with victories in 46 of the previous 49. This includes the 1997 Mercedes Championships, when he slept on the 54-hole lead before weather forced the cancellation of the final round.

Woods then defeated Tom Lehman on the first hole of a playoff. The three times he didn TMt win " T5/1996 Quad City Open, 2/2000 and 2004 THE TOUR Championship.

The 54-hole leader/co-leader has won 18 of 31 events on the 2009 PGA TOUR, most recently Tiger Woods at the AT&T National. At the Buick Open, the third-round leader/co-leader has won 20 of 44 times, including six out of the last eight, most recently Tiger Woods in 2006. This does not include unofficial events held from 1972-76.

Michael Letzig and Tiger Woods will be paired together on Sunday for the second time this year. During the final round of the Memorial Tournament, Woods shot 65 to win, while Letzig posted 75 to finish 14th.

Tiger Woods, currently No. 2 on the FedExCup points list, began the week T95 after a 1-under 71 on Thursday. The worst position after the opening round of any tournament he eventually won was T83 at the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational, after a first-round 70 (-1).

Tiger Woods is competing in his ninth Buick Open. In 35 rounds, he has never posted a round worse than even-par 72, which was just once " during his debut round at Warwick Hills in 1997.

Letzig, a 2007 Nationwide Tour graduate making his 50th PGA TOUR start this week, finished T12 at the 2008 Buick Open (his only previous start here) with four rounds in the 60s (69-67-69-69). He now has seven consecutive sub-70 scores in as many attempts at Warwick Hills CC.