Tiger on Top at Southern Hills

By Associated PressAugust 10, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Another record for Tiger Woods. Another major might not be far behind. Woods matched the major championship record with a 63 in the PGA Championship on Friday, turning away in disbelief when a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole spun 270 degrees around the cup that would have given him the record alone.
 
Of greater interest is adding to his collection of majors, and Woods took a big step on a steamy afternoon with eight birdies and one key par save that carried him to a two-shot lead over Scott Verplank.
 
Tiger Woods
All eyes were on Tiger Woods during his record-tying round on Friday. (Getty Images)
A gallery dripping with sweat rose to their feet when Woods hit his approach into 15 feet on the final hole, and they braced for history when Woods' birdie putt took a dip inside the cup before spinning out the other side. Woods began to raise his putter when he turned away and let it fall from his fingers.
 
'I knew if I made that putt on the last hole it would have been a nice little record to have,' Woods said. 'A 62 1/2 is all right.'
 
Woods is 7-0 when he has the 36-hole lead going into the weekend at a major, and even more history is on his side at Southern Hills. The past six major champions on this course all had the lead after 36 holes.
 
'We've got a long way to go,' Woods said, trying to avoid getting shut out in the majors this year.
 
It might seem even longer to those trying to catch Woods, who was at 6-under 134, two better than Verplank, who had a 66.
 
Former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy was matching Woods birdie-for-birdie on the back nine until he closed with two bogeys for a 68 that left him at 3-under 137 with Stephen Ames (69).
 
Ernie Els did well to shoot 68 to reach even par, but the Big Easy could not ignore the daunting name atop the leaderboard.
 
'You can't think or believe that it's over,' Els said. 'I want to believe it's not. I've got two rounds left. We all know he's No. 1 and he's on form. That's kind of dangerous. But I'm playing well myself.'
 
John Daly put on a different show, whipping out driver and lumbering through the rough and the trees to find it. He hit enough good shots to salvage a 73 that left him six shots behind and asking an important question.
 
'How do you cool Tiger off?' Daly said.
 
It was the 23rd round of 63 in the majors, but only four others have gone on to win - Johnny Miller in the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont, Jack Nicklaus in the 1980 U.S. Open at Baltusrol, Greg Norman in the 1986 British Open at Turnberry, and Raymond Floyd in the 1982 PGA Championship at Southern Hills.
 
Woods will be in the final group Saturday with Verplank, whose bogey-free round fired up a gallery who have been cheering him since he won the U.S. Amateur title and a PGA Tour event while at Oklahoma State. It looked like it would be enough to give the 43-year-old his first lead in a major championship.
 
Then Woods teed off, made birdie on the first hole, and began a swift and stunning charge up the leaderboard.
 
Coming off his lone bogey at No. 7 when he caught an awkward stance in the bunker, Woods stuffed his approach into 2 feet on the ninth and 3 feet on the 10th to get within one shot of the lead.
 
Even though a putt for 62 rimmed out, his biggest putt of the second round might have been for par.
 
Woods found another bunker at No. 12 and blasted out some 30 feet by the pin. He started walking to the side when his par putt broke toward the cup and pumped his fist when it curled in the right side.
 
'The putt on 12 was huge to keep the round going,' Woods said.
 
Then came a charge into the lead and into the record books. He got up-and-down from a bunker at the par-5 13th for birdie, chipped in from 15 feet from just behind the green at No. 14 and holed a 30-foot birdie putt on the 15th.
 
Needing one more birdie over the final three holes, Woods gave himself three good chances, especially on 18. The immediate emotion didn't belong to someone who had shot 63 for a two-shot lead in a major.
 
'Mad,' Woods said. 'I hit a good putt and thought I made it. It would've been nice to have gotten a record and a three-shot lead going into the weekend. The good thing is, I hit a good putt. That's the important point.'
 
Thomas Bjorn was the last player to shoot 63 in a major, in the third round at the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol. Woods might not have predicted a record-tying round, but even after opening with a 71, he said he hit the ball far better than he scored. This time, he made a few putts - only 24 in the second round.
 
'I was just trying to get myself back in this tournament,' Woods said. 'And lo and behold, here I am.'
 
The company is getting smaller.
 
Only eight players remained under par, with Woods and Ogilvy the only ones in that group who have won a major.
 
Woody Austin (70) was at 138, while John Senden (70), Niclas Fasth (68) and Pat Perez (69) were another shot back. Daly joined Els in the large group at 140.
 
Ogilvy was among those who refused to concede the PGA Championship only halfway through.
 
'He does pretty good when he leads for two rounds and even better when he leads for three rounds,' Ogilvy said. 'So I guess that is kind of ominous. But at some point, he's not going to win.'
 
For some, victory was simply getting a chance to play two more rounds.
 
Chad Campbell ran off four straight birdies on his back nine for a 68, while Steve Stricker birdies his last hole for a 68, and both made the cut on the number at 5-over 145. Colin Montgomerie also made the cut at 145, the first time he will play the weekend in a major since he took double bogey on the final hole at Winged Foot and finished second in the U.S. Open last year.
 
Also making the cut with no room to spare was Sergio Garcia, who suffered through a swift turn of fate. He was one shot out of the lead until taking three shots to get out of a bunker on No. 11, then finished off a 41 on the back to post a 75.
 
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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    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

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    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.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    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

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    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."


    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


    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.