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Top 25 golf stories of 2013, No. 18: Tiger Woods threatens 59

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Tiger Woods caused a stir during the second round of the WGC-Birdgestone Invitational, but came up just shy of the magic 59.

Sam Greenwood

Tiger Woods has accomplished nearly everything there is to accomplish on the PGA Tour ... except shoot a 59. He's won and won and won some more. He's set scoring records and won player of the year awards, but he's never joined the 59 club. For a least a few hours last August, it appeared he might do just that.

It was the second round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, played at Firestone Country Club. Firestone has been the site of some of Woods' greatest moments -- including his famous shot in the dark -- and for 13 holes it looked like he would make more history on the Ohio track.

His round started off about as well as possible. A birdie on No. 1 followed by an eagle on the par-5 second hole and just like that Woods was 3-under. After another birdie at No. 3, a 59 became a legitimate possibility. Woods was only able to record one more birdie on the front nine. Still, with three birdies, an eagle and five pars, he made the turn at 30 and well within range of the elusive 59.

Then things escalated. A birdie at No. 10 and another at No. 11 moved Woods to 7-under on the round. Suddenly, Twitter and other social media networks were buzzing and 59 watch was officially on. While viewers scrambled to find second-round television coverage, Woods kept pushing further into the red. He made it three straight birdies on No. 12 and moved to 9-under on the round with yet another birdie at No. 13.

With five holes to play, Woods was riding four straight birdies and needed to finish 2-under the rest of the way to join the 59 club. The way he was stringing birdies together it seemed like an almost certainty Woods would join Stuart Appleby, Paul Goydos, David Duval, Chip Beck and Al Geiberger as the only players to shoot 59 in a PGA Tour event.

His chances took a hit with pars on No. 14 and No. 15, but he still had a great opportunity. Especially with the par-5 16th hole to play. He hit a wonderful second shot, putting a wedge in his hand from 100 yards away. Having watched him hit clutch shot time-after-time in big moments, it felt like Woods would drill a wedge to within kick-in birdie range. Instead, his shot sailed way over the pin and he settled for another par.

Woods 59 watch had lost some considerable buzz, but it still wasn't dead. He could still finish birdie-birdie and go sub-60. The 17th hole got off to a good start and he had a short birdie put to move to 10-under on the round. Surely, there was no way he would miss, not with the way he was playing. He did, pulling it to the left.

The chance of a 59 was over, but Woods still finished the round in style, sinking a breaking 25-foot par putt on No. 18. If the putt had been to save a 59, it may have been an all-timer. Instead, he was forced to settle for a 61. For a few hours "Woods 59 watch" was all the rage. After it was over, the golf world simply returned the seemingly perpetual conversation of whether it meant Woods was "back."

It was fun while it lasted.

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