Woods turns back the clock

Shows glimpses of old brilliance as he climbs into contention on a packed leaderboard

It had been 2,226 days since Tiger Woods had led at the end of a round at a major, but for a short while at the British Open on Saturday it looked like he might do just that going into the final day.

The 42-year-old’s much anticipated return to The Open after a two-year hiatus had been a bit of a damp squib on the first two days at Carnoustie.

However, in an event he has won three times, most recently in 2006, the old fire returned on the Scottish links to reward the packed gallery of spectators following him.

The 14-time major winner — plagued in the past eight years by personal issues and back problems — fired in six birdies in a round only marred by a bogey at the 16th as he seeks a first tournament win in five years.

A brilliant par on the ultra-demanding 18th — having benefited from a huge stroke of luck — briefly made him the clubhouse leader on five under par and he was smiling from ear to ear as he strode off the green.

He has not topped the leaderboard at the end of a round in a major since the second round of the US Open in 2012.

Woods may have struggled to make par on the first but from then on some of his golf resembled that of him at his peak, back when he appeared to be on another level entirely compared to his rivals.

A monster birdie putt on the ninth had him punching the air in celebration and took him to three-under for the day and the tournament.

Fired up by that, he played even better on the next hole as he turned for home.

His approach shot to the 10th green landed a foot from the cup and he duly tapped in for another birdie, flashing a contented smile.

A massive drive on the following hole almost took him to the green and he duly went on to birdie that as well to pile the pressure on overnight leaders Kevin Kisner and Zach Johnson.

Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma carded a second successive even-par 71 even as he failed to break into the top-50 spot.

The 22-year-old, who was tied 52nd after the first two rounds, took his three-day total to two-over par. He was tied 56th with many players still yet to complete their round.

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