Tiger Woods finally looked like Tiger Woods again yesterday, pouring in one birdie after another—more than he had ever made in one round of the US Open—to move within striking distance of the lead at Pebble Beach. Each birdie was followed by cheers that could be heard down the Pacific coastline, but the leader, Dustin Johnson, didn't realize they were for Woods. Johnson turned in a prime-time performance of his own, closing with two birdies for a 5-under 66 to build a three-shot lead over Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.
Nine shots out of the lead after a pair of sloppy bogeys early in his round, Woods came to life by making the clutch putts and hitting the extraordinary shots that have been missing since he returned to competition two months ago. Woods closed out his round with three straight birdies. He shot a 66, his best score of the year, and his 31 on the back nine was eight shots better than the course average. "It's been a while," Woods said. "I hadn't played good enough for anyone to cheer anything. So it was nice to actually put it together on the back nine and put myself right back in the championship."