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Tiger runs out of holes at Hazeltine

8/19/2002

CHASKA, Minn. -- Tiger Woods still hasn't come from behind to win a major championship.

Sunday, he might have had his best chance.

Woods, five shots out of the lead entering play, got to within a shot of the lead after 10 holes. Justin Leonard, who has one major championship under his belt, was fading quickly. Fred Funk and Mark Calcavecchia, both veteran PGA Tour pros, weren't making any sort of a run.

All that stood between Woods and a ninth major title was Rich Beem, who sold cell phones and car stereos for a living the same year Woods began winning majors.

But as has happened to him so often this week at the PGA Championship, Woods' driver got him in trouble. He sprayed it right on the par-5 11th, leaving him no shot at the green. He got back in the fairway, but his pitch from 66 yards away checked up, leaving him 25 feet for birdie. He missed and tapped in for par.

Minutes later, Beem made eagle to stretch his lead to three.

Woods made back-to-back bogeys at 13 and 14 to fall back to 5-under, six shots out of the lead. After telling caddie Steve Williams that four straight birdies to end the round would win him the championship, he did just that to get to 9-under.

But it wasn't enough. Despite a three-putt at 18, Beem finished at 10-under. Woods finished second in a major for the first time in his career (leaving him only 18 behind Jack Nicklaus, who had 19 runner-up finishes in the majors).

"I gave it absolutely everything I had," Woods said. "You know, that's the way I play each and every time I tee it up, and this was no exception. I made a few mistakes today, or a couple of mistakes, and I came right back and sucked it up and got the job done coming in."

Woods was most unhappy with his three-putt at the 13th hole. He had about 12 feet for birdie, but rolled the putt well past the hole. And he missed the comebacker.

"I knew from the practice rounds, that putt has been fast," Woods said. "The greens were slow today and I kept telling myself this putt is not as fast as what it looks, and blah, blah, blah. And I went ahead and hit it the way I thought the greens were running today and it fooled me."

Woods hit a 4-iron off the tee at the 357-yard 14th, but missed the fairway to the left. His 9-iron from the heavy rough was just short of the green, and he couldn't get it up-and-down for par.

"I'm frustrated I made the mistakes on 13 and 14, but then again, I'm also pumped at the way I finished," Woods said.

Woods made an 8-foot putt for birdie on the 15th, a 10-footer on the 16th, a 10-footer on the 17th and a four-footer after a sizzling 7-iron to the green on 18.

It was one shot short.

A little more than four weeks ago, Woods had two major titles this year and couldn't escape talk of a calendar year Grand Slam.

Four weeks later, he has this to chew on: an 81 on Saturday at the British Open, leading him to a tie for 28th (he was 10-under in the other three rounds) and two un-Woods-like bogeys -- at the 13th and 14th on Sunday -- that ultimately likely cost him the PGA Championship.

"I had a bad round at the British," Woods said, "... and in this tournament, I finished second, one shot back. So I came close here."

Close. But not a win in a major. Such is the standard that Woods is held to.

"Any time you win one major in any year, it's a successful year in the major championships," Woods said. "And I won two."

He didn't win Sunday, however, despite matching the best round of the day at Hazeltine National.

"I thought I played well all day," Woods said. "I mean I hit the ball well. I hit a lot of good shots, and on top of that, I really hit a lot of good putts."

Three of them happened to come on one hole. And because of that, Hazeltine will go on Woods' resume as an opportunity that slipped away.