The fifth set was tied at 14 when he was on the putting green. When he arrived at the practice range, he heard Federer had finally broken the serve of Andy Roddick to win 16-14, capturing a record 15th title in Grand Slam events, one more than Woods has majors.
He paused to take his cell phone from his golf bag and send Federer a text message: "Great job. Now it's my turn."
He smiled as a room full of reporters laughed at his story. He knew what they were thinking and quickly corrected them.
"Not by 15," Woods said. "I meant win today."
He took care of that Sunday at Congressional, though it wasn't quite as dramatic. Woods wound up with 3-under 67 and a one-shot victory, his third this season in nine starts.
It was reason enough for CBS to celebrate. The final round drew an overnight TV rating more than three times higher than last year, when Woods was injured.
It would seem Tiger's timing was impeccable. What better way to go into a major than by winning? But that hasn't helped him lately. Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in his final start before the Masters Tournament, then struggled with his swing and finished four shots behind. Then came a victory at the Memorial, where he rarely missed a fairway, only to go to the U.S. Open without being able to make a putt.
Asked whether that had crossed his mind, Woods smiled.
"It has now," he said. "Hopefully, I can play like I did this week and continue to build next week. Our practice sessions, hopefully we'll do some good work and continue to build on what we're doing right now."
The British Open is at Turnberry, a links course Woods has never seen. That shouldn't be an issue. He had never been to Royal Liverpool in 2006 until dismantling the course to win by two at 18-under 270.
He made it clear last week, however, that he needs all facets of his game to be working -- driving, iron play, chipping and putting -- to win a major because the Grand Slam events demand so much.
The left knee that caused Woods to miss the British Open and the second half of last year is no longer an issue. Woods said that's one reason he is driving the ball so well, which was evident at Congressional.
A victory would give him 15 majors, though he is pursuing Jack Nicklaus and his 18 majors, not Federer and his 15.
"Our playing career is a little bit longer than theirs," Woods said. "So I've got one good thing there."
Sunday was the second time this year that Woods and Federer have won on the same day. He was a few minutes late getting to the practice range at the Memorial last month because he wanted to see the end of the French Open, which Federer won to complete the Grand Slam. More text messages followed, and Woods rallied from five shots behind.
There's one big difference between their victories, however.
"He won the French and I won Memorial, so it was kind of, 'Let's do it on the same day. Let's do it again today,' " Woods said. "His are a hell of a lot bigger than mine, though. He won two Slams, and I won two tour events. Hopefully, I can get the majors now."
MICKELSON'S MOM HAS BREAST CANCER
Six weeks after Phil Mickelson announced his wife had breast cancer, his mother was diagnosed with the disease and is to have surgery later this week.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on its Web site that Mary Mickelson discovered she had breast cancer last week. She is to have surgery Friday at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, the same hospital where Mickelson's wife, Amy, had surgery last Wednesday.
Mickelson's sister, Tina, told the newspaper she wanted to make her mother's condition known so she could receive the same outpouring of support and prayers that meant so much to Amy Mickelson.
-- Associated Press