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Woods still focused on taking 1st

Although he was at 4-over-par 214, Tiger Woods still feels he has a chance at winning his fifth straight major.

By BOB HARIG

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 17, 2001


TULSA, Okla. -- An Arnie-like charge will be necessary if Tiger Woods is to hold on to his U.S. Open trophy. And he is not ready to give it back yet.

Woods managed 1-under-par 69 Saturday at Southern Hills Country Club, his first subpar score of the tournament but one that left him a long way from his fifth consecutive major championship.

"I'm not that far behind, only eight back," Woods said as the leaders still were on the front nine. "In the U.S. Open, that's not really as much as you might think. If I was playing in the Bob Hope, eight back, you're not looking too good. It's a tough spot, but you know what, if I go out there and play a good, solid round (today), you never know. I'm really not that angry at myself, because I've tried. I tried as hard as I could."

Arnold Palmer holds the record for the largest comeback in the final round of a U.S. Open. He came from seven strokes back at Cherry Hills Country Club in 1960, shooting a final-round 65 to win his only Open title.

Woods will need a similar effort today, and even that might not be enough. He was tied for 23rd at 4-over 214, nine behind the leaders.

The task would have been easier had Woods found his putting touch. After opening with rounds of 74-71, he was much more on his game Saturday, giving himself several birdie opportunities. But he missed six putts inside 10 feet, three touched the hole.

"It could have been a good one. It could have really been a good one," Woods said. "I hit a lot of good putts that grazed the edge. I think it could have been four or five shots lower. But that's the way it goes."

Woods overcame an eight-shot deficit to defeat Ernie Els at the 1998 Johnnie Walker Classic, but that was accomplished under far different circumstances. The course, for instance, was not nearly as severe.

"You can't force it," said six-time major winner Nick Faldo. "It's not that kind of golf course. You've got to be patient and hit great irons to keep it below the hole."

Last year at Pebble Beach, Woods held a 10-stroke lead heading into the final round and won by 15. This time, he's nearly as far behind as he was ahead.

"I think if you play well, you can shoot a low number, but you really need to play well," Woods said. "And you really need to make a few putts. You just need to have everything come together. And hopefully I can play just like I did (Saturday), just as solid, and make a few more putts."

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