Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tiger takes control at U.S. Open

The U.S. Open went prime time, and so did Tiger Woods.
With unbearable pain and three unforgettable shots, Woods turned in one of his most memorable performances in a major Saturday by holing two long eagle putts, chipping in for birdie and somehow taking a one-shot lead over Lee Westwood.
Right when some 50,000 fans at Torrey Pines thought they had seen it all, Woods knocked in a 30-foot eagle on the 18th for a 1-under 70 and his first 54-hole lead in the U.S. Open since he won at Bethpage Black in 2002.
That he made it to the finish line was nearly as impressive as a magical array of shots.
His tender left knee first buckled on the 15th hole, and Woods used his club as a cane to get down the fairway, limping along while trying to stay in the hunt. He played the final six holes in 4 under - and that included a bogey - and will play in the final group for the sixth time in the last eight majors.
This time he has the lead, and he has never lost a major from the front.
But he has never won a major with a limp, either.
"Is it getting worse? Yes, it is," said Woods, playing for the first time since surgery April 15 to clean out cartilage in his left knee. "Certain shots, I'll feel it. I can't say it's a drive, can't say it's a wedge. I'm not sure what shot it's going to happen on."
Woods was at 3-under 210, one of only three players still under par.
As spectacular as Woods played, Westwood got it done with steady golf so often required at this major. He holed a short birdie putt on the par-5 13th and finished with six straight pars, missing a 4-foot birdie on the last hole for a 70. The 35-year-old from England has never had this good an opportunity in a major.
"It will be nice going out last tomorrow and having a chance," Westwood said.
Rocco Mediate, trying to become the oldest U.S. Open champion at age 45, looked as though he would leave everyone behind when he made an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 10 to reach 4-under and kept putting his shots in the fairway and on the green.
But a three-putt bogey on the 13th was the start of a four-hole stretch that he played 4-over par. That included a chip he bladed over the green and into a bunker for double bogey on the 15th. He had to settle for a 72 and was at 1-under 212.
(courtesy of Associated Press)

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