SAN MARTIN, Calif. -- He said he's figured out the course, which he never had seen until Wednesday. More importantly, Tiger Woods said he's figured out himself.

In going forward, Woods in effect moved back toward the Tiger that golf once knew.

Woods shot a second straight 3-under par 68 Saturday in the Frys.Com Open at CordeValle, a resort course tucked into the coastal hills some 80 miles south of San Francisco, and disclosed, "It's getting better.''

After which he jumped into a car and headed up U.S. 101 to watch his alma mater, Stanford, face Colorado in a late afternoon Pac-12 football game.

Woods is at 5-under par 209 for three rounds of a tournament he's using to prove to himself -- and maybe the rest of the sporting world -- he still can play the game he once dominated.

Although back in the pack, among those tied for 38th Woods, who made a cut for the first time since the Masters, was upbeat about his game and still thinking of winning with a low score Sunday, though he is nine shots behind.

Briny Baird, a non-winner in 14 seasons on tour, shot a 64 in the third round for a 200 total and has a two-shot lead over Paul Casey (68) and Ernie Els (67). Els is putting himself into contention after a disappointing season.

There are good scores out there for Woods to target. Will MacKenzie and Jim Renner shot 62s.

When someone suggested Woods' ball-striking had improved, he said, "I felt so good over the ball today. I felt that I hit a couple of bad iron shots, ones that I had wedges in. I should have stuffed those but I didn't.

"But I'm improving day by day. I would like to just keep building on it.''

Woods had not played competitively since missing the cut at the PGA Championship the second week in August. He began the Frys Thursday in the rain with a 2-over 73 which included a double-bogey when he lost a ball in a grass-filled ravine. He complained it was the "worst putting round I've ever had.''

He weight his putter with a couple of lead strips on the bottom and went to the practice green for a long session. Friday he had six birdies and three bogies, Saturday five birdies and two bogies.

"No doubt, now my speed is good,'' Woods explained, "my line is good.''

Held for a second year in Northern California, the Frys became a huge event because of the presence of Tiger, who on a 73-degree afternoon Saturday drew the majority of a crowd restricted to around 15,000.

Normally Woods doesn't enter any of the four Fall Series tournaments, but because he failed to qualify for the FedEx playoffs, he felt he needed competition.

Asked if he were getting into the feel and rhythm of tournament golf, Woods said, "Absolutely, absolutely. The shots, the feel, the trajectories, lining the ball at different numbers. It's not just the flag number here.''

Two weeks ago, Fred Couples, the captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup team, chose Woods as a wild card for the competition against the International squad next month in Australia. Now that decision appears to be validated.

More golf news


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months