Dressed head to foot in white, Tiger Woods produced appropriately
angelic golf to remind the world of golf exactly why we love to watch him play
on Saturday at Pebble Beach.
After a terrible start with two bogeys in his first three
holes, Woods used an easy birdie on the drive and chip 4th to get himself
going: after that, a laser-guided shot to the 5th and two good hits up the
sixth got him going.
But it was on the 11th green that he really started looking like
Tiger again: for as he looked at his birdie putt, Woods once again stalked as
he used to.
That elegant prowl has been missing from golf far too long: the
precise, ballet-esque steps around the green which make him look like his pants
are too tight; the excitement in the way he drops to his haunches to visualise
the line; the utter focus which makes you think a bomb could be detonated
beneath a neighbouring green without him even blinking.
For the first time in what feels like years, Tiger stalked
that putt on the 11th like the Tiger of old, and seeing it drop was a moment
filled with giddy inevitability.
Watching Woods putt like that gives you a feel for what it
must be like to be able to predict the future: you know you shouldn't know, but
the fact that you do is exhilarating.
Just a few weeks ago it seemed like Woods's powers were
fading. He kept playing terrible golf, clearly unable to deal with the pressure
brought upon him by the media circus that his life has become since
People began to question openly whether he would still beat
the Jack Nicklaus record of 18 Major titles, something considered inevitable a
couple of years ago. The Tiger had become a pussy cat.
Now, such talk suddenly seems ridiculous. Sure, it's only one
good round of golf, and Woods may well not win tomorrow. Yet he showed on
Saturday at Pebble Beach that it's only a matter of time before he is roaring
louder than ever.
- - - - -
Shot of the day:
Tiger's incredible 3-wood to the 18th would have been the obvious pick - but
we're taking the award away from him on the basis that he followed it up by
committing golf's number one deadly sin: he left an eagle putt short. That
leaves Dustin Johnson to win for his fabulous shot to the 99-yard par-3 seventh.
Ian Poulter (see 'sly grin of the day') had earlier claimed that it was an
impossible target, but Johnson proved that the USGA's test was fair after all
by smashing a lob wedge to the rock-hard, downwind green - and spinning the
ball back to tap-in range.
Sly grin of the day:
We couldn't help but chuckle at Ian Poulter's rage for the cameras on the 7th.
The par-3 was playing just 99 yards, but with the wind blowing behind the
players' backs and the pin on the front of the rock-hard green it was a hell of
a job to get anywhere close. "I mean, how on earth are you meant to hit to
that?" raged Poulter to nobody in particular, for the benefit of the TV
Prediction of the day
sponsored by Rose Tinted Glasses Ltd: The disappointment of seeing Messrs
Casey, Poulter and Westwood drop out of contention will be magnified by Graeme
McDowell doing the same on Sunday. But when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and
Ernie Els finish tied after 72 holes, the stage will be set for the greatest 18-hole
play-off in modern golf history.