Ailing Tiger Woods still in last place

WINDERMERE, Fla. -- Battling a fever, a persistent cough and nausea, Tiger Woods shot his best round of the Hero World Challenge on Saturday, but was still unable to pull himself out of last place in the elite 18-player field.

Woods was visibly ill on the driving range prior to the third round at Isleworth, vomited when walking to the second tee box and sweated profusely on a warm, central Florida day.

But aside from a few more issues with his short game, Woods played nicely, finishing off his round with a striped 300-yard drive at the 18th to set up a birdie and a 3-under-par 69.

Despite turning in his best round of the tournament, Woods is 20 strokes back of tournament leader Jordan Spieth, who has a seven-shot lead.

After his round, Woods was barely audible, his voice hoarse, as he talked for a few minutes.

"It wasn't easy and I fought hard,'' he said. "That's about all I had.''

Asked if he thought about withdrawing, Woods said: "Well, I wasn't doing too good at the beginning, but I thought I would be all right. It finally broke on the front nine.''

This is hardly a tournament from which Woods wanted to withdraw, for both golf and personal reasons.

This is just his ninth tournament of 2014 and he had not competed since missing the cut at the PGA Championship four months ago, including two months away from the game to rehab his back.

Then there is the fact that the Hero World Championship is his annual tournament, raising funds for the Tiger Woods Foundation.

"I like to compete,'' said Woods, who is at 216, even par. "If I can go, I can go. I'll give it everything I have. This is different. I wasn't in pain. Just was a bit under the weather.''

Woods had a 102-degree fever on Friday but thought he might be past the problems. Instead, they got worse. Woods looked terrible on the driving range, and several times stopped and bent over as if to vomit. He nonetheless birdied the first hole then added a bogey and birdie on the front side to turn in 35.

He made four more birdies on the back nine, including the final three. His drive at the 18th might have been his most impressive.

"Initially, I didn't have the explosiveness,'' he said. "I was just pretty slow. As the round built on, I was starting to feel better and started hitting the ball around my normal numbers.''