Woods putted well all day but lipped out twice on short par putts - a 2 1/2-footer at the 11th and a 4-footer at the 17th. But between the 11th and 17th, he 1-putted five times, including birdies at Nos. 14 and 16.
The birdie at 16 brought him within a stroke of the lead. But at 17, a par-3 playing downwind, he bunkered his tee shot, blasted out, and bricked the short putt. He closed with a routine par.
``I can tell you, I was glad Payne made that putt on 18,'' he said, referring to Payne Stewart's 15-foot par putt for the championship. ``If he had bogeyed 18, I would have been replaying that putt on 17 all night.''
The entire experience at Pinehurst left Woods feeling good. The winner of six United States Golf Association championships as an amateur, he believes he will soon pick up the organization's top professional plum.
``I'm very pleased with the way I played,'' he said. ``I grinded my butt off today. I was able to make key putts, a whole bunch of them from 10 feet and inside 10 feet for par. That's one of the things I'll take away from this. I know I can win this tournament.''
The Daly 11. John Daly conceded that the U.S. Open would be a test of patience for him. That patience ran out yesterday on the eighth hole, where he posted a septuple-bogey 11 that included a 2-stroke penalty for hitting a moving ball.
Daly flew his second shot down a slope behind the green at the 485-yard hole. He putted up the hill, but the ball rolled back to near his feet. He putted again, and the same thing happened, although this time he hit the ball while it was rolling back.
That shot, his fifth, rolled over the other side of the green. A chip and three putts later, he had scored a 9, but he was assessed a 2-stroke penalty to make it an 11.
``I told myself and [caddie Brian Alexander] that if the ball dares to come back down the hill, I'm going to do what [Kirk] Triplett did last year - take my 2 shots so I don't go stupid,'' explained Daly, who finished with an 83.
``It's frustrating. I lost my patience. I hit a wedge from 147 yards and pured it. I was playing pretty good and to watch it skip and go off the back was frustrating.''
Daly was a shot out of the lead after the first round, tied at 68 with Payne Stewart, the eventual champion, among others. He followed with rounds of 77, 81 and 83 to finish at 309, dead last among the 68 to make the cut.
``It's crazy,'' he said. ``I think the pins were very unfair [Saturday]. The U.S. Open is not John Daly's style of golf.''
Duval fades. David Duval couldn't explain what happened, how he went from contender to also-ran in the space of a few holes.
Duval, ranked No. 1 in the world, made back-to-back birdies at the second and third holes to close to within a shot of the lead. But he went 7 over par in an 11-hole stretch, including a killer double bogey at the ninth, en route to his second straight 75.
How disappointed was he?
``Probably more than you can imagine,'' he said.
``Coming in, I felt good about my chances,'' said Duval, who tied for seventh at 287, 8 shots behind Stewart. ``With the start I had, I felt even better. I was fortunate to start really well.''
Duval felt unlucky on No. 9. He hit his tee ball in the left bunker, then blasted out a shot that he thought would end up near the hole. Instead, it kept rolling and went down the hill on the other side. His next shot, a chip, went up the hill and rolled back down.
``I certainly didn't deserve that,'' he said. ``But the game doesn't care.''