This was beyond Greg Norman in the '96 Masters. That was Norman, with a six-shot lead, going head-to-head in the final twosome with Nick Faldo in the tournament Norman wanted to win more than any other.
Norman shot a 78. Goosen (nine bogeys and a double bogey) didn't par even half the holes. So that left only Campbell between Woods and the Slam's second leg.
But the New Tiger's bogeys on 16 and 17 gave Campbell a four-shot lead. Those stunningly mortal failures gave little ol' Campbell the confidence to shoot at the flag on the par-3 17th and to take a run at a 22-foot birdie putt, which fell right in the heart, as the heart of every Tiger fan fell.
Naturally, the New Tiger gave us one more electrifying tease with a birdie on 18. Yet Campbell strolled to the 18th tee with a three-shot lead. He wasn't even threatened enough go with an iron he hit with the driver. Even though he pulled it into the deep rough left, he spoke to the TV camera as he walked after it, wishing a happy Father's Day to his dad back in New Zealand.
If the New Tiger had merely gotten pars on 16 and 17, Campbell would have walked jelly-legged onto the 18th tee with a one-shot lead.
I could be wrong but with only a one-shot cushion, I don't believe Michael Campbell could have pulled off a par to win the U.S. Open and avoid an 18-hole Monday playoff against Tiger Woods. And I do not believe Campbell could have beaten even the New Tiger with the Carolina throngs roaring him on over 18 holes.
The Old Tiger would have won this Open by two or three shots. The old one would have hit more fairways, made more putts, and led Goosen going into the final round. Woods, a classic intimidating front-runner, has never won a major coming from behind.
The New Tiger can't sustain a rally because he's sensationally inconsistent.
He's still the world's most talented player. Each week, a part of his game will be Old-Tiger awesome. At the Open, he and his hot new ball led the field in driving distance (325.9 yards). His iron play was masterful even beyond Vijay Singh's.
But through the first three rounds, he was dead last in putting, and he hit only 50 percent of the fairways. The Old Tiger hit 71 percent for the year in 2000.
On Sunday, he didn't drive or putt for dough.
Woods missed the first three fairways and bogeyed Nos. 1 and 2, dropping him eight shots back of Goosen. Yet tenacity is the one trait the New Tiger shares with the Old. He will not give up.
He also won't quit kidding himself.
"I played beautifully all week," he said. "I just didn't feel well any day with my putter."
Beautifully? If you keep driving the ball in the deep rough at a U.S. Open, bad things will eventually happen. On the par-4 16th, the second shot he hacked out of the long Bermuda grass left him an uphill chip to the green. Yet the New Tiger who still has golf's best short game miss-hit the chip, leaving it 7 feet short.
He just doesn't have the indomitable confidence he once had. A decelerating New Tiger stroke left the par putt right.