Woods hits wonder shot to land him back in PGA contention

Tiger Woods called it "one of the best shots I've ever hit" - and that's all anyone needed to hear to know he was right back in the chase at the PGA Championshi

updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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Tiger Woods called it "one of the best shots I've ever hit" - and that's all anyone needed to hear to know he was right back in the chase at the PGA Championship. Resuming his rain-delayed second round Saturday morning on a drenched Hazeltine National course, Woods hit a 3-iron out of a fairway bunker to 12 feet on the par-4, 457-yard 18th and sank the birdie putt to move to 4 under. "I hit it so flush, it was scary," Woods said. He headed into the third round later Saturday two shots off the lead shared by five players, including Fred Funk, who fell out of sole possession of the lead when he finished his second round. "I was looking at a bogey and I turned it into a 3. It was a good shot,'' Woods said. Good? Playing partner Ernie Els, walking alongside Woods, turned to Woods and said, "Unbelievable." "It was a pretty good shot," Woods said, conceding the point with a big smile before he went to rest for his third round a couple of hours later. About the same time Woods was finishing up his second-round 69, the 46-year-old Funk was dropping a shot on No 5 - he started the round Friday on the back nine - to fall to 6 under. Funk got the shot back at No 7 to again go 1 up on the field, then promptly bogeyed the 8th to drop into the five-way tie for the lead with Mark Calcavecchia, Rich Beem, Retief Goosen and Justin Leonard. Remarkably, it was the second straight major with a five-way tie after the second round. Until the British Open last month, there hadn't been such a logjam after two rounds of a major in 30 years. As Woods, Els and defending champion David Toms resumed their second round on 17 in the morning, fire hoses crossed the fairway to pump water off the drenched course. The practice tee fairway was inches deep in water, and spectators slogged through ankle-deep mud in some spots. Again, it was terrible day for the third round of a major. But, unlike the British Open last month, where Woods shot himself out of Grand Slam contention with a weather-hampered 81, he quickly turned the momentum his way on this rainy Saturday. Getting up at 5 in the morning, he gave himself plenty of time to prepare for the final two holes of the second round. He parred the par-3, 182-yard 17th after driving into the short rough right of the green with a 6-iron. Toms hit off the back of the green into an ever-shifting wind with a 4-iron. Woods' tee shot on 18 then caught the bunker left, leaving him 202 yards short of the green. He had to stand close to the ball to keep his feet from touching the lip of the bunker, and tall trees blocked his way to the green. Then he hit what might turn out to be the pivotal shot of the tournament, one that easily cleared the edge of the bunker before sailing high and true to the green, undisturbed by the treacherous winds. "The only thing that I had to make sure was to not hit it right with the wind coming hard off the left like that," Woods said. "If I would have lost it, I could have actually hit it over the grandstand. I just tried to make sure I kept it level and hit it solid." He did, and it landed perfectly behind the hole, giving him a makable birdie putt - and he made it, unlike the handful he couldn't drop during a stretch of 10 consecutive holes earlier in the round in which he failed to birdie. To celebrate, he pumped his fists as he came off the green, celebrating what could be the turning point should he come back and win his ninth major. "With the conditions the way they were and the lie I had, it was one of the best shots I ever hit. It was a lot of luck and some pretty good timing," Woods said. Now, Woods said, the key became to remain patient and not make any mistakes with the winds whipping, swirling and changing not just from hole to hole, but shot to shot.(AP)