Woods races into contention

By MIKE RABUN, UPI Sports Writer  |  April 12, 2003 at 8:19 PM
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AUGUSTA, Ga., April 12 (UPI) -- The rest of those who will play in the final round of the Masters Sunday did not need to be reminded.

Just in case, however, Tiger Woods stated the obvious.

"I know how to win a major championship," he said, "and I think that's the assurance that really means a lot."

Woods came into the 67th Masters with a chance to create yet another chapter of golfing history and it came close to all going out the window early Saturday.

He faced a slippery, 3 ½-foot putt on the final hole of his second round and if the ball had missed the hole, Woods would have been forced to sit on the sidelines while the Masters title was being fought over by 48 other players.

In addition, a missed putt would have ended his streak of consecutive cuts made in PGA Tour events, which stood at 100 and was just 13 short of the all-time record held by Byron Nelson.

Woods made the putt, allowing him to tie for 45th place after 36 holes -- a distant 11 shots out of the lead.

About six hours later, Woods was tied for fifth place, a mere four shots behind frontrunner Jeff Maggert. Now Woods has a realistic chance to become the first player to win the Masters three straight years.

His third-round 66 was a combination of good fortune and skill.

"We all know that game's not that easy," Woods said. "Those low rounds, well, you may have the mindset of going out there and shooting some occasionally. But a lot of times you just get out of your own way and it just happens.

"I won't be thinking about winning three in a row tomorrow. You just go out there and play to win the tournament. You just play for what the golf course has in front of you and that's it.

"I'm trying to win a tournament. If I win the tournament, obviously I take care of winning three in a row."

Woods will begin the final round tied with Jose Maria Olazabal and Phil Mickelson. He will be one shot behind Vijay Singh and Davis Toms, two back of Mike Weir and four behind leader Jeff Maggert.

The quantity or quality of the opposition matters little to Woods.

"Some have experience in this situation," Woods said. "DT (Toms) does. He's won (the PGA) and Vijay has won (the PGA and Masters). So there are some guys.

"You're always going to find that in just about every major championship, players who have been there and have won and other players who haven't.

"You just know that you need to get in position. Whoever is there doesn't really matter. You just need to get in position."

Even though he was 11 shots out of the lead to start the second round, Woods was not discouraged.

"I was still in the ball game," he said. "At the time, I was only seven shots out of second place. That's not that much out here on this golf course. We all know that. Anything can happen.

"If you could shoot a good number, you were going to get right back in it because it's really hard to go out and shoot a low number when you're leading the tournament. You're not going to be playing that aggressive if you have the lead."

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