And then two key moments on the back side: At the par-3 16th, Westwood hit his tee shot left into the high-as-your-thigh grass, came up with a nasty lie, hacked it out, watched it roll back to his feet and hit a poor chip. But the 20-footer he made to salvage bogey was, in his estimation, “probably the biggest momentum thing I did all day.” He and Woods shared the lead at 2 under.
Then, as Westwood was on his way to birdieing the par-5 17th, Woods made a crucial error. He had 238 yards to clear a bunker on his second shot. “If I hit it flat and flush, it’s fine,” he said. He didn’t, and when the ball found the bunker, birdie opportunity became bogey, and Woods finished with 72, falling out of the final group Sunday.
“I’ve got 14 of these things, and I know what it takes to win it,” Woods said. “He’s won tournaments all over the world. He knows how to win golf tournaments. He’s two shots ahead, and we’re going to go out there and both compete and play. And it’s not just us two.”
That is a salient point, not least because precisely zero of Woods’s major titles have come when he trailed entering the final round. So pay attention to Mahan, who played in the final group Sunday at this year’s U.S. Open and tied for fourth. His 68 on Saturday tied for the best round of the day and featured a gutsy, par-saving putt of 18 feet at the last. He will play Sunday with Westwood, thinking many of the same thoughts.
“You kind of have to believe before you can win,” Mahan said. “You’ve got to have that confidence knowing that ‘I can play well and I can win a major.’ ”
Scott has it because he turned last year’s fall-on-the-sword loss in the British Open — in which he bogeyed the final four holes — into victory at the Masters.
“It’s completely different,” Scott said after his third-round 70. “I think I go out there tomorrow not carrying the weight of the lead or not having won a major.”
That weight, then, would fall to Westwood. As he considered that afterward, he made it clear: While a victory could define his career, a loss won’t, and damn what other people think anyway.
“I don’t really live my life outside-in,” he said. “I don’t live it and run it according to what other people think. . . . I have my own ideas and my own dreams and my own plans.”
By now, they are well-stated, clearly envisioned. The only thing that remains is carrying them out.