CHASKA, Minn. -- Those who sloshed around Hazeltine National
just to watch Tiger Woods play two holes Saturday morning were not
disappointed. They saw a shot Woods described as one of his best
Any birdie on No. 18 Saturday morning in the PGA Championship
would be one to savor, especially since the 457-yard hole played
into gusts approaching 35 mph.
But this was something special.
''With the conditions the way they were and the lie I had, it
was one of the best shots I ever hit,'' Woods said.
The statistics will show that he hit a 3-iron from 202 yards in
a fairway bunker to 12 feet and then made the birdie putt,
finishing a second-round 3-under 69 that put him two shots out of
Woods pumped his fist when the putt dropped, rare emotion for so
early in the tournament. It only showed how much Woods wanted to
give a great shot the proper ending.
Reaction from those around him spoke volumes, too.
''UN-believable,'' Ernie Els told him.
When Els' caddie, Rica Robbers, walked off the 18th green, he
looked at a reporter, widened his eyes and shook his head.
It began with a drive that was anything but great. The ball was
pulled badly to the left and wound up on the left side of a fairway
Woods faced the green with his arms crossed, studying his
options. He had 202 yards to a pin that was back and to the right.
The ball was below his feet, he had a steep lip of the bunker in
front of him, tall greens blocking the green and not much of a
''He only had 3 feet from the lip, so he had to stand close to
the ball,'' caddie Steve Williams said.
Was playing short of the green a consideration? Apparently not.
''He wanted to hit 4-iron,'' Williams said. ''I thought it was a
A slight miss could have led to big problems -- in thick rough,
in the trees, over the grandstand.
''I hit it so flush it was scary,'' Woods said.
The ball cleared the lip, and started tracking to the flag,
fighting the gusts along the way. It landed about 6 feet from the
hole, and a crowded grandstand erupted in cheers.
''That was the single greatest shot I've ever seen him hit,''
Williams said, who has been on Woods' bag for 30 victories and
seven major championships.
''Canada doesn't even touch this one.''
That would be the Canadian Open, which was equally stunning and
has been regarded as one of Woods' most memorable shots.
At Glen Abbey outside Toronto two years ago, Woods had a
one-stroke lead over Grant Waite when he hit a 6-iron from 218
yards out of a bunker, over water and right at the flag to set up a
two-putt birdie that clinched his ninth victory of the season.
''That was a feasible shot,'' Williams said. ''This was
Whether it was one of the greatest golf shots ever is open to
Among the most memorable in history: Jack Nicklaus hitting the
flagstick on the 17th at Pebble Beach with a 1-iron in the 1972
U.S. Open; Bobby Jones hitting the 17th green at Royal Lytham from
a sandy waste area in the 1926 British Open; Ben Hogan's 1-iron to
the 18th green at Merion in the 1950 U.S. Open; Seve Ballesteros
reaching the 18th green with a 3-wood from a fairway bunker in the
final singles match at the 1983 Ryder Cup.
And in recent memory, it might not even have been as good as the
shot Sergio Garcia gouged out of a tree with his eyes closed on the
16th hole at Medinah in the '99 PGA Championship.
The thousands of fans who turned up at Hazeltine on a gray,
blustery Saturday were in no mood for a debate. All that mattered
was a chance to see a shot they'll talk about for years to come.