TIGER WATCH: On the Third Day, He Stayed in the Hunt

The world's most watched golfer faltered a bit, but was just four strokes back.

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  SATURDAY APRIL 10

            Tiger Woods was sinking fast, bogeying three of five holes starting with No. 6, in danger of falling out of contention Saturday at the Masters. It appeared that the adrenaline rush of Thursday and Friday had run out, and everything he’s been through since Thanksgiving had finally caught up to him. But he kept battling and scratching and clawing, and finished with birdies on four of the last six holes, leaving him closer to the lead than he was at the outset.

            “I was fighting all day,” Woods said afterward, heading into Sunday’s final round just four shots behind leader Lee Westwood, only Phil Mickelson between them. “My warm-up wasn’t very good. I was struggling with the pace of the greens. It was a tough day.”

            It goes to show how ridiculously how Woods has set the bar for himself. He shot 2-under par with seven birdies and five bogeys, a round that virtually any other golfer would be thrilled to have.

 

MORE SALT

            Saturday is called “moving day” in golf and Woods was upwardly mobile in a hurry, recording birdies on the first and third holes to quickly move into a tie for second place. At that point it seemed like the long layoff and salacious scandal hadn’t affected his prowess; we soon learned that it hadn’t affected his profanity, either.

            After a poor tee shot at the sixth hole, Woods cursed himself and took the Lord’s name in vain, too, loud enough to be heard by CBS’ microphones. When he issued his mea culpa in February, Woods pledged to conduct himself more professionally, saying “I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game on the golf course.”

            Announcer Jim Nance pounced on Woods’ language right away, but colleague Nick Faldo was more understanding: “It’s going to be a test,” Faldo said. “He’s under tremendous scrutiny. I’m sure he’s going to fail at times.”