A tale of three Tigers at Pebble Beach

He's won here before, convincingly. He played Saturday like a man on fire. And with his 5-under round, he's thrown a scare into the entire field.

But enough about Dustin Johnson. Let's talk a little Tiger, shall we?

Saturday, we saw the third straight different Tiger Woods challenge Pebble Beach. On Thursday, Tiger looked like a man adrift, completely out of control of most of his game, especially his putting. On Friday, Tiger's skills were there, but his decision-making was highly suspect, leading to some uncharacteristically awful shots. And on Saturday, it all came together in a masterful 5-under round capped by a perfect putt on 17 and an astonishing approach on 18. For a moment, all was forgotten, and the golf world reveled in another virtuoso Woods performance.

Still, if Woods does manage to win — though he's five shots behind Johnson, a charge is a near-certainty and a win a distinct possibility — Woods won't be greeted with universal praise, as he has been in the past. USGA executive director David Fay, for one, took direct aim at Woods for Tiger's criticism of the greens as "awful" on Thursday.

"I think two players used the word awful on Thursday," Fay said. "Phil [Mickelson] said he putted awful. Tiger said the greens were awful." You can read between the lines there, can't you?

It's only one round, yes. There are still 18 holes of golf yet to be played, and a lot can go very wrong over that period of time. But with Woods back in the mix, this tournament just got a whole lot more interesting. Only question is, which of the three Tigers will show up?

Hey, let's be honest here. I want Tiger to do well. Tiger on the leaderboard is always a better story than Tiger fumbling around deep in the field. There are millions of golf fans who also want Tiger to do well, if only to spit in the face of the negativity that's surrounded Woods over the last few months. (Negativity, lest we forget, that is fundamentally of his own creation.)

However, there is also a huge number of fans who now loathe Tiger, who want to see him crash and burn spectacularly. For them, one good round proves nothing. And for some, Tiger could win every tournament he ever plays and they'd still curse his name.

Look at it this way — now everybody has a reason for watching Sunday. Because there's absolutely no way to predict how this is going to turn out.

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