Conners leads, Woods lurks at Valspar

Canadian rookie Corey Conners maintained the lead at the Valspar Championship on Saturday, firing a three-under par round of 68 to stay ahead of a pack of three players.

Conners finished at nine-under par, just one shot ahead of Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker and the resurgent Tiger Woods, as the Canadian looks for a first PGA Tour victory.

With a raucous crowd following the 14-time major winner just up ahead of him, Conners did well to keep his cool, saving par from the bunker on the 17th to keep hold of the lead.

Woods got the crowd roaring as he chipped in for birdie from the back of the ninth green to tie for the lead, and holed out from 20-feet at the next for another birdie.

His momentum slowed on the 13th with a bogey, but gained it back at the next before finishing with four straight pars for a 67.

Conners, making just his 17th start on the tour as a pro had a nervy moment on the final green when his ball moved as he was preparing to putt. After a discussion with an official to confirm there was no penalty he holed out for a par.

He will be paired with Rose on Sunday, who enjoyed four birdies and an eagle in his 66.

Woods will partner Snedeker, who shot five birdies of his own in his 67.

Woods’ return to form following his back problems has been remarkable considering he only started hitting balls five months ago.

He last tasted victory at the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in 2013.