|Tiger Woods and caddie Steve Williams both gave the same read to the putt on No. 17.|
Once Woods arrived at his ball, he shook his head and looked as if he rolled his eyes. He was at 11-under-par, and getting up-and-down would give him a nice cushion going to the 72nd hole of the championship. But he couldn't get the chip close, causing more gasps from the crowd.
"I hit a pretty good chip and I landed it, to be honest with you, just about four inches too short," Woods said. "I wanted to land the ball just in the fringe and let it go. Unfortunately, I landed it in kind of a dead spot. I needed to carry over that dead spot. I didn't do it and it came up short."
The 8-foot par putt was hardly a gimme under any circumstances, let alone at a major championship under the glare of a shrinking lead. Woods and caddie Steve Williams conferred for a few moments before the player went about trying to save his destiny.
Although the gallery had been raucous throughout the round, there was hardly a murmur as Woods began his pre-shot routine. He had missed a longer par-saving putt on the 16th, and this one seemed to be equally as tricky.
"As I was reading the putt, I kept seeing it on top of the hole, but I was thinking 'I know this putt doesn't break as much. There's not enough grass for it to break,' " Woods said. "And Stevie said, 'Inside left (edge of the hole)' and I said, 'That's perfect.'
"So I went ahead and trusted the read and then ran it inside left, making sure I stayed steady, making sure the blade (of the putter) released through the ball, because a lot of times the left-to-right putt is very easy to block. And I released the blade, but I don't remember seeing it start off because I was keeping my head steady."
Woods looked up toward the ball about 18 inches in front of the hole, just as it started to break. As it dropped for par, he shot his fist out in celebration. Or perhaps in relief.
"As it went in, it was just 'OK, now time to go to 18,' " he said. "I was thinking I had to make 3 in order to win because I expected Sergio, as I've always said, 'You've got to expect the best out of your competitor and your opponent.' I expected Sergio to make 3 and I would have to make 3 to win. So I went ahead and hit 3-wood off the tee to make sure I got it into the fairway.
"And when I found out Sergio didn't make 3, all I needed to do was play it safe and take my chances with a nice little two-putt."