Tiger Woods has never lost a major championship when leading after 54 holes.
Judging by that fact, the competition might as well look forward to next year, when the U.S. Open returns to Bethpage in New York.
Woods, doing his most heroic Kirk Gibson impressions, completed a marvelous third round, shooting 33 on the final nine holes. Woods came into the round at 2-under par, but struggled early. After a double bogey on the first hole, Tiger lost another shot at the treacherous fourth hole, sending him back into the black numbers.
Once Tiger hit hole thirteen, however, the momentum took a giant swing in his favor. After a poor drive into the right rough, Tiger was left with a reasonable lie and angle to the green. He delivered a beautiful shot that stopped 25 feet from the cup. The sidewinder putt figured to be extremely difficult, but Woods drained it for an eagle to move into red figures.
After bogeying the fourteenth hole, Woods sat at even-par with two holes remaining.
Those last two holes of his day were perhaps the two most exciting holes of the tournament thus far. At seventeen, Woods faced a tough chip out of thick grass, hoping to get within 6-8 feet of the cup to save par. After hitting a mediocre shot, Woods pleaded for the ball to get down. It did, resting at the bottom of the cup. Tiger knew he stole one with some help from the flagstick, but getting to 1-under sounded good as well.
At eighteen, he needed no luck. Woods used a monstrous drive and an equally good approach shot to reach the green in two with a chance for eagle on the par-5. In typical Woods fashion, he read the break to perfection, draining the difficult putt in the heart of the cup. Tiger moved to 3-under, overtaking Lee Westwood for the lead.
The most impressive part about this week for Woods is that he is doing this all on one good knee. Sure, we've seen Woods play like this before in majors, but we have never have we seen Tiger in such an ailing condition. He could barely walk the course, and was visibly pained on the majority of his shots. To be honest, it was painful watching some of his post-shot reactions.
Lo and behold, Woods kept on the gas, passing Stuart Appleby, Rocco Mediate, and Westwood in the process.
It is now almost a forgone conclusion that Woods will capture his 14th major championship, in what has been one of the greatest careers in golf history. It would certainly be tough to bet against Tiger given the situation.
Although he has looked shaky to say the least with his driver, his approach shots and putts have been not only phenomenal but timely as well.
Don't be surprised to see Woods come out Sunday and fire a great round, because it certainly wouldn't be the first time.
Westwood will see Tiger's game in person tomorrow as they make up the final pairing, teeing off at 4:30 E.T.