Tiger's not about
to give up at Open
Despite third-round 73, Woods says
he 'can still win' thanks to eagle on 18
Lenny Ignelzi / AP
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. - Tiger Woods threw the bag over his shoulder and gladly lugged it to the green.
He finally had something to smile about at the U.S. Open.
On a brutal day at Shinnecock Hills, Woods holed out his final shot from 106 yards for an eagle, giving himself the slightest bit of hope for an improbable comeback Sunday.
“I tell you what, that definitely put me back in the tournament,” Woods insisted. “If the wind blows and I play a great round of golf, I can still win this tournament.”
History is working against him.
Despite the eagle, Woods shot a 3-over-par 73 Saturday, leaving him 4 over for the tournament and nine strokes behind Retief Goosen. Just as daunting: 17 players stand between Woods and the leader.
It’s hard to imagine anyone shooting 65 on this course. Crusty fairways and rock-hard greens brought some of the world’s best players to their knees. The wind kicked up in the afternoon, giving the fearsome course even more bite.
Only three players broke par. Vijay Singh, who has been playing as well as anyone in the world, stumbled to a 77, failing to make even one birdie.
As if Woods didn’t have enough on his mind, he faced questions about a couple of issues away from the course.
He seemed genuinely hurt by former coach Butch Harmon’s comments to a British television network. He said Woods might be in a “bit of denial” over the state of his game.
The two split after Harmon modeled the swing that won seven of 11 majors in one stretch.
“I don’t understand why he would ever say anything like that, especially when we’ve been as close as we are,” Woods said. “And we resolved everything, I thought. I thought everything would have been cool.”
Woods was especially upset that Harmon made his critique in public, without going to his former pupil first.
“If you go say something like that, you go right up to my face and say it,” Woods said. “Maybe he’s just trying to be on TV and trying to be more controversial and saying things. I don’t know.”
“I didn’t find out until I got home and Stevie told me,” Woods said. “I think it build up over the entire week of dealing with a lot of different distractions that we don’t have to face at a regular tournament.”
The course is distracting enough, especially when Woods is struggling to control his shots off the tee. At least he’s getting better, hitting 8-of-14 fairways in the third round — his best performance of the week.
“It’s really tough right now, because the fairways are really fast as they can be,” Woods said. “It’s hard to keep the ball in the fairway.”
It was hard, too, reaching the 10th green. Woods had a 6-iron to the flag, but left it short and watched it roll back down the steep slope. He then botched a wedge, the ball repeating its tumble off the ridge. He finally got on with his third attempt and took double bogey.
“It was no fun getting up the hill,” Woods said.
His mood changed at the 18th, where he pulled off the eagle with his sand wedge. Williams turned the bag over to Woods, who hauled it to the green with an embarrassed grin on his face.
“That was all spontaneity,” Woods said. “He threw the bag on my shoulder and, hey, I was happy to oblige.”
He hasn’t given up on winning this tournament, either.
“Hopefully, the wind will be blowing,” Woods said. “If I can get to even par, if not under par, for the tournament, you never know.”