PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Tiger Woods chipped in from behind the ninth green and the roar was unmistakable, the tree-rattling variety that belongs to only one player in golf. Moments later, Woods raised the putter in his left hand as another birdie putt dropped for a share of the lead at the Valspar Championship.

Corey Conners heard the whole round and it made him smile.

Never mind that Conners had six birdies in his round of 3-under 68 for a one-shot lead Saturday as he tries for his first PGA Tour victory. Even the players trying to beat Woods got swept up in the emotions of seeing him closer than ever to having a chance to win again.

“I can confirm he’s back. The roars are back,” said Brandt Snedeker, who was along for the ride with Woods and matched his 67. “It’s fun to hear the crowd going crazy again, and realize how excited we are in having him back out here and play the way he is. He’s playing great.”

Conners, the Canadian rookie in only his 17th start on the PGA Tour as a pro, saved par from the bunker on the par-3 17th and kept his cool when his ball moved slightly on the 18th green – no longer a penalty in those circumstances – before he tapped in for par.

He was at 9-under 204 and will play with Justin Rose (66), who joined Woods and Snedeker at one shot behind. For the second straight day, Woods and his thousands upon thousands of fans will be ahead of him.

“I kind of knew what was going on without even having to see it,” Conners said. “But it will be cool. It’s fun seeing him out there, and I’m sure he’ll be battling hard (Sunday). But hopefully I can play my game and have a good day.”

Conners smiled when he heard the cheer for Woods when he chipped in at No. 9.

For so many years, such a roar caused far more consternation than celebration among the rest of the field. Conners grew up idolizing Woods for his 14 majors and 79 victories on the PGA Tour, and it was hard not to get caught up in so much hysteria.

Conners still settled himself with a wedge he nearly holed on No. 9 for a birdie of his own.

Woods looked as though he might seize control after his birdie on No. 10 to reach 8 under, tied for the lead.

He hit a wedge into 7 feet below the hole on the par-5 11th and another roar erupted. But Woods missed.

On the 12th, Woods played it beyond the pin and used the slope to get the ball rolling back to 8 feet.

At this point, the gallery was so delirious they couldn’t sync up their chants. Some were yelling, “Tiger! Tiger!” Others were yelling, “U-S-A!” Most were just screaming. And then Woods missed again.

He dropped his only shot on the next hole when his tee shot sailed over the green into matted, thin grass where the gallery had been standing.

“I am excited,” Woods said. “I feel like I’m playing a bit better and cleaner. I moved myself up the board. I know it’s packed up there but at least I got a shot.”

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Tom Pernice Jr. remained patient in cool, rainy and breezy conditions, and held a one-shot lead after two rounds of the Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach, California.

Pernice shot a 1-under 70 with a sloppy bogey on the par-5 18th as the leaderboard began to bunch up. Joe Durant, Scott McCarron and Vijay Singh were among the players who challenged Pernice throughout the afternoon, and 13 players were within four shots of the lead heading into the final round.

EUROPEAN TOUR: Shubhankar Sharma of India shared the lead with Matt Wallace of England in the Indian Open at New Delhi after the third round.

Sharma, who four days ago received a special invitation to play in the Masters, shot a par 72 with five birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey. He and Wallace are on 7-under 209. The Englishman eagled the par-4 No. 9.

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