But he's gone 15 majors now without winning a title, his longest drought since turning pro. He insisted earlier in the week that he remained on target to break the record, but like most of his recent proclamations, his words rang hollow.
For two days he looked like the player he once was, methodically making his way around Olympic Club and hitting fairways and greens with amazing accuracy. His new swing and new life seemed to be finally coming together, and it seemed a given he would be in the hunt on Sunday.
A good final round might be enough to salvage some of his confidence. But it probably won't be enough now to win the U.S. Open.
Woods is still a baffling work in progress, his game a puzzle even to himself.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg