Tiger Woods admitted a bogey at the last hole overshadowed his sparkling third round in the US Open at Oakmont on Saturday.
Woods put on a near-flawless display of ball striking at the US Open to move into contention but a last-ditch dropped shot took a little of the lustre off a stellar effort.
A one-under-par 69, the first sub-par round of the tournament for Woods, moved the world number one into second place after starting the round in a tie for 13th.
Finishing on a four-over-par score of 214, Woods trails Australian Aaron Baddeley by two shots.
Woods will be in the final group with Baddeley but he was more concerned with the final hole of his third round.
“I was pissed, 17 holes and then you end on a dropped shot,” Woods said. “I played so hard all day not to drop a shot and I didn’t quite get it done on the last hole.”
A player will always take a sub-par round at the US Open, more so on a weekend. And while Woods did miss a few opportunities to go lower, he was not about to beat himself up over it.
Once again there were only two under-par rounds on the day, Steve Stricker carded the other with a 68, and Oakmont will continue to yield little.
“I’d be miffed at myself if I hit bad putts, but I hit good ones, so it’s just the way it goes,” Woods said.
“Obviously it could have been really low but in these greens, like on five and seven, they were downhill breaking two, three feet. Those putts you can’t take a run at.”
But Woods gave it about as good a run as he could and is in prime position to challenge for his 13th major. However, he will have to do it in unprecedented fashion.
Woods is 12-from-12 at majors when he has had at least a share of the 54-hole lead, and none-from-28 when trying to come from behind.
Who knows what Baddeley is thinking having to go for his first major title in a pairing with Woods, but there is one player who likes the world number one’s chances to break his comeback drought.
“It will take someone pretty special to beat him,” said Nick Dougherty, who played with Woods in the third round.
“It was unbelievable and a great experience. What a day to play with Tiger,”
Woods nearly recorded a special round but had to settle for merely good. What could have been great was undermined in part by an average putter.
Watching Woods you never got the sense he was putting badly as he burned the edges all day but never got on a roll.
Woods took 35 putts, in part because he hit 17 of 18 greens. But what he missed on the greens in the third round he hopes to make up for with experience.
Of the eight other players within four shots of the lead, only Jim Furyk has won a major, and that is a fact that can only help Woods as he tries to make 13 his lucky number.
“They’re going to deal with emotions that they’ve probably never dealt with before and things like that,” Woods said.
“It helps to have experience. I’ve been there before and I know what it takes.”