However, Woods now holds a four-stroke lead over McIlroy and Rose, and considering he is second on the PGA Tour in third round scoring ... things are looking good for the only man to have won multiple FedExCup titles.
"The game is hard enough without having to, without looking at other people", he said. "I was hitting it absolutely dead flush, the putts I was hitting were going in and from there I just tried to hang in there". And, if history is any guide, he'll be holding his first trophy in five years when it's all said and done.
The 14-time Major victor is a two-time former Tour Championship victor and enjoys a remarkable record of winning 54 of 57 PGA Tour events when holding the 54-hole lead. Denny McCarthy, who has already earned enough money to secure a return to the PGA Tour, was one shot back.
But here's how he can win the FedEx Cup.
However Woods has progressed steadily during his comeback season, leading the British Open during the final round in July before finishing second at last month's PGA Championship. "That helps. I don't have to shoot 63 or 64 and hope I get help".
American Woods and England's Rose, who will face off on opposite sides next week in the biennial team event in Paris, at one stage built a three-shot lead over their closest rivals in the 30-man field.
Woods has had four finishes in the top 5, a runner-up by one shot at Innisbrook and by two shots at the PGA Championship. This is a spot I'd much rather be in than four or five back.
The Saturday start was simply mesmerizing.
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"I wouldn't like to use that as an excuse, we had that type of crowd in the Champions League before and we were able to win", Arteta said.
He came out firing on the front nine Saturday at East Lake Golf Club with six birdies on his first seven holes. Two short birdies followed.
Woods birdied the last hole in a round of 68 to tie World No. 1 Rose (67) at seven-under par 133 on the East Lake golf course.
The cheers were endless, and there was no doubting what was going on.
"Sixty-four is my best on a Sunday which puts me at 11 [under], so if he's 12 I need to shoot my career best in the final round and he needs to do something very un-Tiger-like", Casey laughed. "What an atmosphere it is out there this week".
Woods considers it a victory to have made it to the Tour Championship coming off a fourth back surgery.
He went from the deep rough left of the 16th fairway to a plugged lie in a bunker that left him no choice but to play away from the green, and he missed a 12-foot putt to take double bogey.
McIlroy had his game face on as he contemplated the task ahead.
Rose won't be in the final group, but he has plenty on the line even if he doesn't catch Woods. If he finishes that way, Woods will win the $10 million prize for the FedEx Cup by winning the Tour Championship.