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Woods stumbled over the branches while he practiced his swing with a 9-iron, a perfect intersection of weekend storylines. He stood over the ball with 165 yards to the front of the green and measured that his follow through would hit the tree. No worries.

“I had warned the gallery that, be careful, this club might snap, because obviously I’m hooking it, so I’ve got to throw it, I’ve got to put some speed into it, and I can’t ‑‑ I’m not 100 percent sure I can stop it before I hit the tree,” Woods said.

The club face whacked the trunk, as expected, leaving a bare spot the size of a 50-cent piece. The ball hooked, just as Woods intended, and rolled to within 33 feet of the cup.

Woods two-putted to save par, remain level with Van Pelt, and stay in position to capitalize when Van Pelt stumbled coming in.

“He seemed like he kept his rhythm for two days, and I think whenever you’re working on something in your golf swing, that’s the hardest thing to mesh is mesh the physical with the rhythm,” Van Pelt said. “I think that just goes to show you he’s getting way more comfortable what he’s doing golf swing-wise because his rhythm stayed the same for 36 holes under the heat.”

Woods tapped in his par on the 72nd hole to a standing ovation. A reporter noted later that Woods this year has now won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Memorial and this tournament. Those are the first three events he won in 2009 en route to six that year.

“That would be nice if I could get that same total,” Woods said, smiling, “with a couple majors in there.”