Woods, Els and David Toms, who each had won major championships in 2001 and were the marquee threesome in the first two rounds at Hazeltine, hadn't finished their second round when a patch of horrid weather prompted play to be suspended on Friday. They restarted on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. and had two holes left, which means that by the time Woods climbed into the bunker on the 18th fairway, it wasn't yet 8 a.m.
"When I hit it, it was probably just the most pure shot I've ever hit," he said. "It just felt like nothing, like when guys hit a home run, [or] describe a home run, how easy it felt, even though it went 460 feet. It just felt effortless; that's how that shot felt. And I made the putt, too." The 18th at Hazeltine is a bear of a hole, a 465-yard par-4 that doglegs left and tilts slightly uphill. As the video indicates, with the wind still howling from the overnight storms, had the flags on the grandstands had flapped any harder, they would have frayed at the edges. A stand of five trees stood 72 yards in front of Woods, including one that towered 60 feet above him, caddie Steve Williams said. As Els and Roberts watched in disbelief, Toms, the defending PGA champion, spoke in hushed tones to caddie Scott Gneiser.
"When I saw him in the lip of the bunker, I figured he would try to get it somewhere up there short of the green," Toms said, laughing at the notion. "David and I were standing out in the fairway, going, 'He's going to try to hit that shot? What's he going to do, pop something up, lay up in front of the green?'" Gneiser said. "Then we saw the long iron come out. But if there was anybody that could hit that shot, it was Tiger. "It was unreal. I couldn't believe he had to hit that shot, couldn't believe he tried to hit that shot, and then he actually pulled off the shot. At that point in the tournament, I remember thinking he could make a big number and put himself out of the golf tournament. Best shot I have ever seen."
The fairways were wet and the air was heavy. Els had bombed a drive and a 2-iron onto the green from 210 yards on a shot that Roberts said "played like it was 240." Toms had barely reached the fairway with his drive and came up short of the green with a fairway wood. "It's blowing, it's cold, because there was that front that came through, remember?" Els said. "I mean, I hit a good drive and was in the fairway, and hit 2-iron for my second shot. I thought, 'Man, that's one of the best shots I have hit this week.' As I told Ricci, we had seen a lot of his great shots, but up to that point, it was the best shot he had ever hit. And he [Woods] basically agreed.
"See, the thing is, it was 7:30 in the morning, freezing cold, most of us are still trying to warm up and stretch, and here's a guy hitting 3-iron over a tree with the ball a foot below his feet. And then he makes the putt."I thought the shot was a hard to find, rare item on YouTube. But thankfully, I was wrong. Here it is. Enjoy.