Closer look saves Tiger Woods on 17th
Had he not been able to, his ball would have been declared lost, meaning he'd have to go back to the tee. Instead, he was allowed to take a drop, and while he made a bogey, a double-bogey was possible if he would have had to go back to the tee.
With binoculars, it was determined that the line on his ball was his, aided by dozens of spectators who saw his drive fly into the tree.
"It's been an interesting last couple of weeks,'' Woods said. "I had two lost balls last week, and then I got one struck in the tree this week.''
Woods has a career-best 24 birdies through 54 holes, surpassing by two birdies his previous high totals of 22 at the 2007 Tour Championship and 2005 Ford Championship at Doral, where he defeated Phil Mickelson by a stroke.
Woods also has a career- best 74 putts through 54 holes.
Mickelson does not believe making up a 5-stroke deficit is out of the question despite his squandering of numerous chances.
"Look, I shot 69," he said. "I 3-putted from 4 feet on [No. 3]. I didn't get up and down from off the edge on 8 and 10. I missed a 5-footer on 15. There were shots out there that could have brought it down to the score I need for [Sunday], but I really don't have to play that much differently.''
Mickelson has twice come from six strokes back to win, including last year's Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -- where he shot 64 to Woods' 75 in the final round.