Sunday, June 15, 2008
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SAN DIEGO - If they allowed first-hole mulligans at the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods might be running away with this thing.
Woods opened the third round with a drive into the left rough and a double-bogey Saturday - the second time he's done that in three rounds at Torrey Pines. He fell to even par after 10 holes, three shots behind leader Rocco Mediate.
Add a bogey at No. 10 on Friday, when he opened his round on the back nine, and Woods is 5 over on his opening holes over three days.
But 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.