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Devil Ball Golf

With twin 67s, Tiger Woods is officially in the hunt at the British Open

Tiger Woods hadn't found one of Royal Lytham's dreaded pot bunkers all week. Hadn't had to deal with the muck and the mire that most of his compatriots faced as they negotiated the muddy soup at the bottom of each bunker. Until 18, that is, when his final approach shot on Friday found a greenside bunker. Woods was lying five strokes behind second-round leader Brandt Snedeker, looking at dropping another. Woods walked up to the bunker, settled his feet in the muck, gripped the club, and dialed up 2006.

He holed it.

Sure, we've heard this story before: Woods plays well early in majors but fades late. Happened as recently as the U.S. Open, matter of fact. But he continues to put himself in position to make a charge at his 15th major.

Woods now sits three strokes behind Adam Scott and four behind Snedeker. All three players have turned in spectacular efforts; Snedeker hasn't yet bogeyed a hole, and Scott lopped three strokes off Snedeker's lead on Friday afternoon.

[Related: British Open: Phil Mickelson shoots 78, misses the cut]

Still, Scott and Snedeker have a combined zero major wins. How will that lack of experience come into play as we head deeper into the weekend? Woods has been here before, but it's been a long time — six years — since he was in position to win a British Open.

Plus, there's the matter of the course itself. "We have forecasts for wind on Sunday," Woods said afterward. "This golf course, we haven't seen it yet with the wind we're supposed to get in this place."

How much of the exceptional play of the top three has been the result of good golf, and how much is the result of exceptional conditions? We'll find out soon enough. Still, Woods has put himself in exceptional position to make a charge. He'll need two more days of quality play, but that next major looks as close as it has since Torrey Pines in 2008.

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