June 15, 2008

THE SORT OF PERFORMANCE THAT MAKES EVEN AN OVERDOG BELOVED:

Something to Shout About: Two Late Eagles Help Woods Soar To One-Shot Lead (Leonard Shapiro, 6/15/08, Washington Post)

By the end of a cool, overcast afternoon hard by the Pacific Ocean, the No. 1 player in the world had made a magnificent, 70-foot eagle putt at the 539-yard 13th hole, holed a 50-foot flop shot at the 441-yard 17th for birdie and sunk a 30-foot eagle putt at the 530-yard 18th hole to take over this tournament with a stunning round of 70 and a three-day total of 3-under-par 210 at Torrey Pines South Course. [...]

Playing in his first tournament eight weeks after knee surgery, he winced in pain after countless shots during the round. He said his knee was "more sore" than it was in the first two rounds and "there are certain shots I'll feel it. You can't say it's the drive, you can't say it's a wedge because I don't know which one it's going to happen on."

Pain or no pain, precedent is very much on Woods's side as he attempts to win the 14th major title of his career. In each of his 13 major victories, he was either tied for the lead or held it outright after 54 holes. On Sunday, he will be in the final group (paired with Westwood) for the sixth time in the last eight majors, courtesy of those two final exclamation points on his memorable round.

The first came at No. 17. In deep greenside grass, he lofted a third-shot wedge from about 50 feet of the hole and watched in some disbelief as it took one bounce and jumped into the cup for a thoroughly improbable birdie 3.

After he missed the fairway for the fifth consecutive hole, "honestly, I was just thinking whatever you do, don't make six here; just give yourself a chance of making four," he said. "All of a sudden, I walk away with three."

At 18, he finally did hit the fairway, then sent his second shot soaring to the green. From 30 feet out, he watched his eagle putt trickle inexorably into the cup for a birdie-eagle finish that had thousands standing and cheering as if the hometown Chargers had just won the Super Bowl. [...]

Where to begin on the demolition derby front? How about Phil Mickelson making a quadruple-bogey 9 at the 539-yard 13th hole from a perfect lie in the fairway, with three consecutive wedges that went up to the elevated green, only to spin back down the hill? A few hours later, Ernie Els (74) had two shots at the same hole that mimicked Mickelson's comical script, but at least Els was able to make a 15-footer to save bogey.

"I've had a nine on 13 before," Mickelson said. "I was eight years old."


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Posted by Orrin Judd at June 15, 2008 8:56 AM
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