Moments after putting the finishing touches on his third round in the Players Championship last Saturday, golf's foremost obsessive-compulsive set up shop on the practice green. Tiger Woods's 66 had been the low score of the day at the TPC at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., propelling him to within two strokes of leader Jerry Kelly, but shoddy work with his wedges had vexed Woods during an otherwise scintillating performance. So now he was bouncing one tricky little chip after another at various flagsticks. Clearly he was fixated on winning his first Players, the only important title missing from his resume. Right, Tiger? Actually, he said, "I was getting ready for Augusta."
The practice paid off early. On the 2nd hole of the final round of the Players, Woods was just short of the green after his second shot on the 532-yard par-5, nearly 100 feet of contoured green from the hole. With a perfectly executed bump-and-run, he buried the chip for a tide-turning eagle that tied him for the lead. Woods completed the rain-delayed victory with a clutch nine holes on Monday morning, closing the books on a final-round 67 and a one-stroke win over Vijay Singh. In analyzing the key blow, Woods couldn't help but turn his thoughts to Augusta National yet again. "It's the same chip you would find there on number 11 if you bail out to the right and have to chip it across the green," he said.