Having missed the cut at three consecutive majors -- an unthinkable low for the greatest golfer of the past two decades -- the 39-year-old was just two shots off the lead going into the final round of the Wyndham Championship.
It's an event Woods has never played before, but victory Sunday would surely rate among the most satisfying of the 79 titles he has amassed on the PGA Tour.
Having been ridiculed and written off in the past year, Woods has struggled with injuries and the intricacies of yet again remodeling his game.
His first-round 64 was his best score in two years.
He admitted Friday's 65 wasn't quite so convincing, but it still gave him a share of the lead.
A bogey at Saturday's final hole -- only his fourth dropped shot of the week -- meant he signed for a two-under-par 68 to be two strokes behind outright leader Jason Gore.
Gore scorched around the course in Greensboro, North Carolina, carding a 62.
That score was matched by Sweden's Jonas Blixt, who was tied for second on 13 under with Woods and another American, Scott Brown.
Perhaps a good indication of Woods' rapid improvement is that he did not hit a bunker until the 51st hole of the tournament; an unfortunate feature of his play this year has been waywardness off the tee.
His presence at Sedgefield Country Club has been popular -- the PGA Tour reported that 34,000 spectators attended on Saturday, which organizers called "a modern-day record" for an event that has been run in various guises since 1938.
"I'm having a good time," Woods said. "It helps to play better, and the atmosphere is incredible."