Remarkable Shot Puts Tiger in the Hunt
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
McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School
One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.
McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.
It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.
McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).
Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).
Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.
Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award
The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.
The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.
Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.
The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.
A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.
Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4
Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.
Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.
South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.
Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.
The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.
Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout
It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.
Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.
Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.
"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."
Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.
Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.