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Woods surges into contention at US Open

other Updated: Jun 20, 2010 13:11 IST

AFP
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Tiger Woods birdied the last three holes of a five-under par 66 on Saturday to thrust himself into contention at the US Open golf championship.

While Graeme McDowell and Dustin Johnson wrestled for the lead in the last group of the day, Woods made good on his assertion that his seven-shot second-round deficit would still allow him to strike on the weekend.

Woods made five birdies with no bogeys on the back nine and gave himself a chance at eagle at 18 as he moved to one-under par 212 for the tournament.

"It was nice to actually put it together on the back nine and put myself right back in the championship," Woods said. "And everyone was just so excited and fired up that it was just a great atmosphere to play in front of."

His five-under effort matched the best round of the championship so far, and moved him into third place.

Northern Ireland's McDowell took a two-stroke lead into the round, and started birdie-birdie.

But Johnson, one of four players sharing second coming in, kept pace with an eagle at the par-four fourth. Birdies at six and seven saw Johnson briefly move atop the leaderboard at five-under.

But McDowell, who had dropped to four-under with a bogey at the third, was back on top through nine - where he birdied and Johnson bogeyed.

Woods, however, was the man electrifying the crowd.

The 14-time major champion, whose season has been disrupted by scandal and injury, strode the fairways with his old swagger as the birdies piled up on the back nine.

"All the US Opens - all the ones that I've won, you have to have a nice stretch of nine holes, and that's what I did on Sunday," said Woods, whose three US Open titles include a record 15-stroke victory here at Pebble Beach in 2000.

He rolled in a curling birdie putt at the par-three 17th - the hardest hole on the course through the first two rounds - and lifted his right arm as the gallery roared.

"Today I hit shots the way I know I can hit shots," Woods said. "The putt on 17 was a joke. I'm just trying to get it close and walk out of there. And it happened to go in."

At the par-five 18th he cut his second shot around a tree, peering ahead after the shot to see if his plan panned out. When he saw it had, he pumped his fist and headed toward the green with a grin.

When he walked off 18, Woods was one of just three players under par for the tournament - and that after bogeys at two of his first three holes.

"I just felt good that I turned it around," said Woods, who gave a glimpse of things to come with three straight birdies from the fourth.

He gave a shot back at eight and made a good par putt at nine to make the turn even for the day. He birdied 11 and 13 before his closing burst.

South African Ernie Els, who started the day tied with Johnson, Ryo Ishikawa and Phil Mickelson sharing second on one-under par, was even for the tournament through 11 holes.

France's Gregory Havret, who started the day two-over, was also at even-par through 14.

Masters champion Mickelson and Ishikawa had fallen even further back.

Mickelson opened with two bogeys and was two-over through 14. Ishikawa was three-over through 14.