ST. LOUIS – They came to Bellerive to believe.
Believing that the clock was turned back to 2006, when Tiger Woods was the # 1 player in the world. To believe that the player that almost every golfer was afraid of when he appeared on the leaderboard would re-use his magic in the leaderboard. Believing that Tiger Woods, aged 42, still had what it took to win his first major for more than 10 years.
Woods gave the buzzing gallery some credo at the PGA Championship in its third round on Saturday. A row of three birdies in a row pushed Woods down to 4 through his first eight holes of the round. The last birdie, with 8th place, brought him to 8 under the tournament and only two shots back to the leaders who were making their rounds.
"I somehow remembered that I was often in the vortex years ago," said playmate Stewart Cink. "It was fantastic to be in Tigers group is always exciting … to hear the crowd and Tiger is great it was like turning back the hands of the clock."
When Woods went to the ninth hole, his name was in fifth place behind Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas, three of the top ten players in the world and all under 30 years old. They were not there when Woods dominated the majors. Was it her time to feel what it was like to be on the receiving side of a wood? Will Tigers run into a ninth row that has made him fit throughout the week?
No. And it was such a fun.
Woods made the turn against 4 for the day, and there he finished it, leaving him four blows behind championship leader Brooks Koepka.
<p class = "Canvas Atom Canvas Text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "But he could – should – much, much closer. " data-reactid = "42"> But he could – should – be much, much closer
He had birdie-putts in 11th place and 12th and 13th and 14th and 15th place All legitimate possibilities. All missed.
The kicker came in 17.
When Woods grabbed a bat to attack the green of the Par-5, a cheer erupted. The cheers turned to a roar as Woods' second shot landed just under 20 yards in front of the hole and provided a usable Eagle Putt. A putt to put him under 10 for the tournament and possibly Koepka's next pursuer. A putt to clear the previous five failures.
If that was not the time that Woods made a statement that he was close to being his old self, what would?
And then the putt slid almost five feet behind the hole. And the birdie putt lipped out. And the cheers turned to moans that could have drained the Goodyear blimp buzzing above them. Instead of breaking double-digit in a major for the first time in a major note, Woods stayed below at 8.
He could have gone with 16 to 9 under 16 kept his putter in the air with his arm outstretched, sure he had hit his bird in the hole. It stopped.
Woods could have been 9 under 9 when he missed his birdie and only had one foot to the par. Or at # 11, when another birdie putt missed.
Or even at 18, when another 15-foot birdie opportunity ended within a foot of the hole.
"I pretty much left every single putt short of the rear nine," Woods said. "The greens blurred, they got slow and I did not hit the putts hard enough and I made sure it was the 17th and I blew it at about four feet and then pulled the next one."
Jared Sanders was one of those who wanted to believe. He traveled from Dallas to St. Louis for his first PGA Championship. He and his friend Seth Rogers wore Tiger Onesies for the third round and dropped seats off the fairway on the tenth hole when it was Woods turn.
The decision to wear the Onesies was simple. And of course.
"Tiger," Sanders said.
Sanders was in Bellerive on Wednesday. It was his first time seeing Woods. Woods was not part of any other PGA Tour event he had attended.
"I cried almost on Wednesday when I saw him," Sanders said. "Great fan, favorite athlete of all time."
The Oneses, who bought the pair for $ 33 each from Amazon, looked a bit cheesy on a sultry August afternoon in the Midwest. But the two did not seem to mind as they thought about which hole to see Woods next.
Others also had this plan. The masses came to a standstill each time Woods addressed his ball. When partners Cink and Webb Simpson were preparing to record, the galleries were constantly on the move as fans tried to figure out where Woods & # 39; was next and to catch a glimpse of him, probably the first and second possibly only time.
Woods played 29 holes on Saturday – 11 as a continuation of the rain-delayed round 2 and 18 for lap 3. And when he was done, the fatigue of the day came to light as the sweat dripped from his face. The 66 he scribbled could have been a course record, 63. Or a 64, when he guessed second, what he should have done with that eagle hit No. 17.
"I'm tired," Woods said , Twenty-nine holes, it's not necessarily the physical, it's this mind that grinds 29 holes so hard in this heat – it was a long day. "
He had a good opportunity on Sunday in to come to the final round. If not the top. And he knew it. Instead, Woods is four back from Koepka chasing four others in between.
When the 15th and most unlikely major win for Woods happens this weekend, it will be the first time he wins one while remaining behind after the third round. With nine years behind him at Bellerive he can not figure out and Koepka scoring his second major of the year, chances are far from being for him.
But unlikely is not impossible. The gallery of Bellerive has kept that for the dear life on Saturday. They'll grab harder on Sunday.
<p class = "Canvas Atom Canvas Text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" Type = "Text" Content = " More from Yahoo Sports:  • Orioles make the worst sort of story with the fastest division race elimination
• Marshawn Lynch sits anthem before Raiders preseason game against Lions
• Jordan Spieth loses his cool at PGA Championship
• LeBron jokes, he is ready to play center in Photoshop
"data-reactid =" 89 "> More from Yahoo Sports:
• Orioles make the worst sort of story with the fastest division race elimination
• Marshawn Lynch sits anthem in front of Raiders' preseason game against Lions
• Jordan Spieth loses his coolness at PGA Championship
• LeBron jokes, he's ready to play center in Photoshop