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Woods Almost a Cut Below

August 14, 2004|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

KOHLER, Wis. — That was quite a high-wire act performed Friday by Tiger Woods, who teetered on the line of missing his first cut in a tournament since 1998 until he birdied three of the last six holes at Whistling Straits and finished with a 69.

"That was interesting, wasn't it?" he asked.

More than that, it would have been historic. As it is, Woods stands at even-par 144 at the PGA Championship, nine shots behind co-leaders Vijay Singh and Justin Leonard, but also one shot better than the cut line, at 145.

Woods' streak of consecutive cuts grew to a PGA Tour-record 129 tournaments -- every one he has played in the six years since the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

That tournament was begun in February, but not completed until August after heavy rain limited it to only two rounds and forced a postponement.

Woods, who'd shot 76-72 in the first two rounds, didn't return six months later for the last round, so it went into the PGA Tour record book as a missed cut. The only other cut Woods has missed in his pro career, which began eight years ago and totals 174 tournaments, was in the 1997 Bell Canadian Open.

Three over par Friday and needing to pick up two shots to make the cut, Woods birdied the 13th hole when he made a four-foot putt, then made birdies at the 16th and 17th. He hit a six-iron to the middle of the green at the par-five 16th and two-putted. At the 17th, Woods stood over a 20-foot, left-to-right breaking putt and buried it.

Woods also saved par with a 10-footer at the 11th hole, recovering from a bad drive.

"You know, I'm grinding on that putt and made it in there and just tried to keep the momentum going, just take little baby steps, build on one shot," he said.

Woods has been ranked No. 1 for a record 331 weeks, but he could be replaced by Ernie Els.

Els will assume the No. 1 ranking if he wins and Woods is not second by himself or tied for second with one or two players. Els will also be No. 1 if he is second by himself and Woods is not 16th with one other player or better.

Vijay Singh could have replaced Woods as No. 1 if Woods had missed the cut, provided Singh had won and Els was not second on his own.

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