Beware the wounded Tiger at US Open
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2008 US Open | Round Three | 15 Jun 2008
An almost indescribable finish from Tiger Woods has given him the 54 hole lead at US Open, timing his run to perfection with a 35 foot eagle putt at the last to edge one ahead of Lee Westwood and two ahead of the long time leader in round three, Rocco Mediate.
Three shots will reverberate around the golfing world over the next 24 hours as it awaits what promises to be a fascinating climax to this event. A stunning eagle at the 13th, after a five iron from almost the adjacent 12th fairway finished on the back edge of the green and some 70 feet from the hole, started a run that would sweep him to the lead.
At the par four 17th Woods missed the fairway from the tee and then was left of the green with his second. From an uphill lie he chipped in although Woods later confirmed how lucky he was when he stated that it had ‘come out a little warm’, caught the flagstick, and dropped in the hole.
At the last Woods was just finding a way to get the ball in the fairway from the tee as the pain his knee was becoming an even greater issue.
“I hit a little duck slice there into the fairway and had 227 to the hole,” said Woods after his round. “I had practiced that very shot on the practice fairway this morning as I thought I might need it at the 16th hole.”
Woods hit a fine shot to 30 feet behind the hole and then hit a curling left to right putt into the hole to record his second eagle in six holes and his third of the week. He had grabbed the lead off Westwood, who had earlier appeared as if he would take at least a one shot and perhaps two shot lead into the final round.
“If I hadn’t seen Robert’s putt on a similar line a little earlier I probably wouldn’t have made mine,” said Woods referring to the amount of break there was in that final putt.
An opening double bogey in round three had Woods back at even par and three behind the leader, Stuart Appleby. He dropped another when he missed the fairway then the green at the 4th and was still three behind but this time it was Rocco Mediate who had taken the lead with two birdies in his first four holes.
As Appleby’s hopes disintegrated with a horror start that saw him five over through six holes, it was initially left to Lee Westwood to mount a serious challenge to the 45-year-old Mediate.
Westwood, whose best finishes previously in a major have been 4th at the Open Championship in 2004 and 5th in this event in 1998, was playing with a good friend from the European Tour, Miguel Angel Jimenez, and both were enjoying the chance to play ahead of the drama behind.
Westwood’s round of 70 left him at 2 under, missing a good opportunity at the last after his second had finished just off the back edge at the par five. He is however just one behind and with Woods’ knee still of some concern he must fancy his chances.
Mediate recovered after a shaky stretch of holes with a birdie at the 17th from 15 feet and despite not being able to birdie the last he is well placed just two behind. For much of the round he was faultless, hitting fairways and greens at will. He will be disappointed at letting such a great position slip but he is enjoying himself and might still be a factor.
The best of the Australians is Geoff Ogilvy, who recovered from a slow start to finish with 72 and is within striking distance. Ogilvy’s three putt double bogey at the 14th but he bounced back with a great approach at the 15th to three feet and was back at 1 over. He found the back of the green at the last but was not able to get up and down for birdie which could yet make a difference.
D.J. Trahan is also at 1 over along with Ogilvy while a large group at two over, including Robert Allenby, may yet have a chance dependant on how the Woods knee performs on day four.
The best round of the day came from Brandt Snedeker whose 68 moved him from the cutline to a share of 15th at 3 over.
Amongst the remaining Australians other than Ogilvy and Allenby, Aaron Baddeley and Stuart Appleby are at 5 over, Rod Pampling at 6 over, Adam Scott at 8 over and Jarrod Lyle at 10 over.