Woods set fair for US Open test
Tiger Woods said that humility and dogged determination would be key to victory at the US Open this weekend over the exacting Olympic Club Lake Course.
The 36-year-old world superstar was the joint leader going into Saturday's third round having "plodded along" to a one-under par total of 139.
Alongside him will be his old Ryder Cup partner Jim Furyk and another crusty US veteran in the shape of David Toms.
They were the only players under par and two strokes clear of a quartet consisting of 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, rising Belgian player Nicolas Colsaerts, and US qualifiers Michael Thompson and John Peterson.
Woods is in a familiar position. Nine times previously he has been in the lead or tied for the lead at the halfway stage of a major and only once has he failed to close the deal.
But times have changed since Torrey Pines four years ago when Woods won the last of his 14 major titles.
Marital strife, crippling injuries and swing machinations have stripped him of the paramount status he hitherto enjoyed in golf, and he says that only hard grind will do if he is to once again close the gap on Jack Nicklaus's alltime major record of 18.
"This tournament you just have to keep plodding along," he said. "This is a different tournament.
"You have to stay patient, got to stay in the present, and you're just playing for pars.
"This is not a tournament where we have to make a bunch of birdies. Just got to hang in there with a bunch of pars."
Hanging in there at tough US Open courses is what 42-year-old Furyk does best.
To date the high-point of his career came when he won the US Open title at Olympia Fields in 2003 and he has five top five finishes in the year's second major since making his debut in 1994.
While admitting that his best days may be behind him, the popular Furyk believes he has "some gas left in the tank", enough maybe for a second major title.
A total of 72 players made it through to the weekend with nine strokes separating the leaders from the rump of the field.
Five-time runner-up Phil Mickelson will be among the early starters, having just sneaked past the cut at seven over despite a troubled first round.
World No 3 Lee Westwood is still well in contention at five over having seen the two players ranked above him - Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy - pack their bags for home after dire performances.
And there is the story of 17-year-old US high-school student Beau Hossler, who briefly led the tournament half-way through his second round but who ended the day at three over.
Saturday was forecast to be the hottest day of the tournament and with the greens and fairways already rock hard, scoring was expected to be extra tough with anyone ducking under par likely to be in or near the lead for Sunday's final round.