Tiger Woods looked like any other player trying to survive a US Open, head bowed in frustration with each shot that found trouble and kept him farther from the lead. But one hole changed everything. With his metal spikes on a cement path and a tree over his head, he fired an 8-iron around the branches and over the bunker to 18 feet for a birdie that sent him charging into contention at Torrey Pines yesterday. And he never missed another fairway or another green.
He found a rhythm that made it hard to believe he had been missing for two months while recovering from knee surgery. And with four more birdies for a 30 on the back nine, Woods rallied for a 3-under 68 that left him one shot behind Stuart Appleby. "I felt that if I played well in that back nine, I could definitely get back to even par for the tournament and I would be right back in the championship," Woods said. "And all of a sudden, I started running them in from everywhere."