Rory: Tiger not as feared but still a major threat

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"When you put yourself in position enough times, it goes your way sometimes, it doesn't go your way sometimes", said Spieth, who was hoping to become only the third player to win four majors before turning 25, after Young Tom Morris and Woods.

"It would be nice if there weren't a lot of guys between myself and the lead, but not the way this golf course was going to set up, " Woods said.

The "where I was" referred to the years of debilitating back pain that was finally solved by a spinal fusion last April, allowing him to resume his career after four years of severely-curtailed appearances. I thought 9 [under] would be the number.

Molinari, when hot favourite at the Italian Open, nearly swept everyone away in the romance of it all by finishing runner up to Thorbjorn Olesen who stole a march on the final few holes. The ball cleared the lip by a solid margin and finished near the front of the green, leading to an easy par. He followed that with a bogey and never caught up.

There is plenty of room to debate his strategy. Now he seems a shoe-in for the TOUR Championship and is a top contender to win the season-long race. "If someone was expecting a charge, they probably weren't expecting it from me".

Woods said it was extra special for him as all his two children had witnessed before were his fall from grace both personally - divorcing their mother Elin Nordgren because of serial infidelities - and professionally.

Asked if he deserved to be put on the clock, Spieth said: 'I took over the allotted time on the tee on 11 to decide on 3 iron or 3 wood.

His anger over his mistakes was tempered by perspective, comparing it to Serena Williams losing in the finals at Wimbledon. "It didn't go my way, mainly because I just didn't make anything". It was his first Open since missing the cut at St. Andrews in 2015. It's the closest he's been to the lead in a major since five years ago at Muirfield.

"I got here only Monday lunchtime from the States and walked a few holes, and I saw it was firm and fast and the rough wasn't too bad", said Molinari, whose previous best finish was tied for ninth in 2013. As an example, defending champion Jordan Spieth, who had a share of the 54-hole lead, was going backward and ended up shooting 76.

Molinari made par on his first 13 holes. "I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling", he said.

"I know it's going to sting for a little bit here, but given where I was to where I am now, (I feel) blessed". "I've done it so many different ways". Yet he parred in from there, whereupon the four-time major victor said, "It was great, just to be a part of it and hear the roars". Now they just want to go play soccer with me. 6 player in the Official World Golf Rankings isn't still on the same path considering how he's found such a stellar game at this point in his career.

In his trademark red shirt the 42-year-old looked in complete control as he birdied the fourth and sixth holes.

His previous best finish in a major was tied second at last year's US PGA Championship, won by Justin Thomas. Woods made the turn with a 2-under 34 and held the solo lead by one at 7-under.

To do so, he needed to be among the top 50 by Sunday, one of the qualifying cutoffs for the event.

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