Resuming his rain-delayed second round Saturday morning on a drenched Hazeltine National course, Woods hit an iron out of a fairway bunker to 12 feet on the par-4 18th and sank the birdie putt to move to 4-under.
'I hit it so flush, it was scary,' Woods said.
He headed into the third round later Saturday two shots off the lead shared by five players, including Fred Funk, who fell out of sole possession of the lead when he finished his second round.
'I was looking at a bogey and I turned it into a 3,' Woods said. 'It was a good shot.'
Good? Playing partner Ernie Els, walking alongside Woods, turned to Woods and said, 'Unbelievable.'
'It was a pretty good shot,' Woods said, conceding the point with a big smile before he went to rest for his third round a couple of hours later.
About the same time Woods was finishing up his second-round 69, the 46-year-old Funk was dropping a shot on No. 5 - he started the round Friday on the back nine - to fall to 6-under.
Funk got the shot back at No. 7 to again go 1 up on the field, then promptly bogeyed the 8th to drop into the five-way tie for the lead with Mark Calcavecchia, Rich Beem, Retief Goosen and Justin Leonard.
Saturday's play was scheduled to begin at 7:30 AM CDT, but was held up two hours because the course wasn't ready. That pushed back the start of the third round to 12:30 PM, with play starting off both the No. 1 and 10 tees in order to get the round in.
As Woods, Els and defending champion David Toms resumed their round on 17, fire hoses crossed the fairway to pump water off the drenched course. The practice tee fairway was inches deep in water, and spectators slogged through ankle-deep mud at some points.
Again, it was terrible day for the third round of a major. But, unlike the British Open last month, where Woods shot himself out of Grand Slam contention with a weather-hampered 81, he quickly turned the momentum his way on this rainy Saturday.
Getting up at 5 AM, he gave himself plenty of time to prepare for the final two holes of the second round. He parred the par-3 17th after driving into the short rough right of the green with a 6-iron, after Toms hit off the back of the green into an ever-shifting wind with the same club.
Woods' tee shot on 17 then caught a bunker left, leaving him 202 yards short of the green. He had to stand close to the ball to keep his feet from touching the lip of the bunker.
Then he hit what might turn out to be the pivotal shot of the tournament.
'If I don't hit it right, I might have hit it over the grandstand,' Woods said.
Instead, it landed perfectly behind the hole, giving him a makable birdie putt - and he made it, unlike the handful he couldn't drop during a stretch of 10 consecutive holes earlier in the round in which he failed to birdie.
'With the conditions the way they were and the lie I had, it was one of the best shots I ever hit,' Woods said.
Now, Woods said, the key became to remain patient and not make any mistakes with the winds whipping, swirling and changing not just from hole to hole, but shot to shot.
Full Coverage of the 84th PGA Championship