Sports Outside the Beltway

Going for three- Tiger Woods vs. Aaron Baddeley at the US Open

The US Open finishes today-

OAKMONT, Pa. (AP) – Aaron Baddeley teetered on the edge of a collapse, staring at bogeys on the golf course and Tiger Woods’ name high on the leaderboard.

He showed he might be up to the challenge.

Baddeley escaped with an amazing par from deep rough at the base of a bunker on the 17th hole, finished strong with a birdie for an even-par 70 and wound up with a two-shot lead over Woods after three rounds of the U.S. Open on Saturday.

The Australian kid who was beating world-class players as an amateur now faces the biggest test of his career.

Woods was nearly perfect from tee-to-green, hitting every green in regulation until he had to lay up from the rough on the 18th hole and took his only bogey for a 69, one of only two rounds under par even though Oakmont’s fearsome greens showed a softer side.

Woods, who has never won a major when trailing going into the final round, will be playing in the last group at a major for the second time this year. He was one shot behind at the Masters and tied for second.

“I’ve been there before, and I know what it takes,” Woods said.

Paul Casey shot a 72 and was at 5-over 215 with Stephen Ames (73), Justin Rose (73) and Bubba Watson (75), who made a triple bogey from the left side of the ninth green but steadied himself with pars and a lone bogey the rest of the way.


Still, a dozen players were separated by five shots going into the final round on a course that is tough even when the USGA wants it to play slightly easier.

“This golf course doesn’t lend itself to too many birdies,” Ames said. “So the guy who makes the least mistakes will be the guy to win.”

Baddeley is a good golfer but never been in this spot before. He has two tour titles, Tiger has two US Open victories. If Tiger were to win today, he’d join Hale Irwin(1974, 79, 90) as the only other three-time US Champ. The group of two-time winners is large. Retief Goosen was tied for the lead going into the 2005 US Open final round before blowing up. Hale Irwin did similarly at the 84 Open when having a chance for his third.

You can’t bet against Tiger. If anyone were to sneak up from behind, I’d put my money on Jim Furyk, the 2003 Champ and a runnerup last year.

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Furyk put up a good performance until falling apart on the last four holes.

Cabrerra came out of nowhere, though. Still, if not for missing on a relatively easy birdie putt, Tiger would have pulled out a tie.

Posted by James Joyner | June 18, 2007 | 11:36 am | Permalink

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