Tiger Woods leads by four at PGA Championship

By Doug FergusonAugust 14, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' Tiger Woods watched the last of his three straight birdies take one last turn and drop into the cup. Walking toward the hole, he nodded his head and dangled his tongue out of the side of his mouth, a swagger that spoke volumes.
 
Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship
Tiger Woods seeks his 15th career major championship victory. (Getty Images)
In blustery conditions and on bumpy greens, Woods made key par putts early in his round and big birdies toward the end for a 2-under 70 that gave him a four-shot lead in the final major of the year.
 
The late string of birdies came in the final hour Friday at Hazeltine, and it changed everything. The final birdie putt gave this major that look of inevitability, with some frightening figures to back it up.
 
Woods is 8-0 in the majors when leading after 36 holes. He has never lost any tournament when leading by four shots going into the weekend. Of the top 16 players going into the second round, he was the only player to break par.
 
In order to have a lead in a major championship, you cant be playing poorly, said Woods, who was at 7-under 137. And all the times that Ive been in this position, I have played well. And Im playing well now.
 
Padraig Harrington, who tried to keep pace and hit one shot that Woods called one of the best he had ever seen, was asked after staggering to a 73 whether a four-shot lead was different when it belonged to the worlds No. 1 player.
 
What do you think? the Irishman said, grinning. Thats self-evident. Were all well aware of his ability to lead in the front. He gets better from the front. I think he likes that position.
 
Woods was four shots clear of five players who have their work cut out for them.
 
Vijay Singh (72), U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover (70) and Brendan Jones (70), the Australian whom Woods beat in his return to competition in February at Match Play, all played in the morning. Harrington and Ross Fisher, who closed with two bogeys for a 68 to become the third player to fall out of the lead, had to cope with the fierce conditions of the afternoon.
 
It was Woods largest 36-hole lead in a major since he led by five in the 2005 British Open at St. Andrews.
 
I mean, yes, Tiger is the greatest golf I think weve ever seen, Fisher said. But at the end of the day, hes just like me and you. Hes just a human being. He just happens to be damn good at golf. So weve got to work really, really hard to try and compete with him and catch him.
 
Woods has not lost a 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour in five years, dating to the Byron Nelson when he was revamping his swing. He came to Hazeltine having won his last two tournaments, however, and appears to be hitting his stride.
 
His finishing kick Friday was particularly impressive.
 
He avoided his second bogey in three holes with a 12-foot par save at No. 12, missed a birdie opportunity to take the lead on the 13th, then poured it on. The tees on the 352-yard 14th hole were moved up, giving players the option of trying to drive the green. At only 299 with the wind in their favor, it wasnt much of a choice.
 
Woods flushed his 3-wood onto the green and just onto the fringe, nearly holing the eagle putt. On the par-5 15th, he hit 3-wood through the green and chipped to tap-in range to widen the lead. Then came the 16th, and a 20-foot birdie that allowed Woods to seize control as he goes for a record-tying fifth title at the PGA Championship.
 
His game looked solid again today, Harrington said after playing with Woods for the third straight round, dating to Sunday at Firestone when Woods overcame a three-shot deficit to beat him. I think hes in a good position. The reason hes a good front-runner is he can pick and choose his shots, and hes not been pushed into shots that he doesnt have to hit. And hes very good at that.
 
Harrington faced one of those shots, and it was a dandy.
 
Trying to get back into the game at the 15th, his ball on a slope in the bunker, Harrington thought the slope would help him reach the green, and he pounded a 3-wood that was perfect. It stopped 15 feet from the cup.
 
Woods called it one of the best shots he had ever seen, worth the price of admission.
 
He did say to me actually he would have paid to have seen it, Harrington said. So I asked him for 50 bucks.
 
Woods gave nothing to anyone at Hazeltine ' not even himself.
 
Theres a long way to go, he said.
 
Still, it was the first time Woods has opened a major with consecutive rounds under par since the 2006 PGA at Medinah.
 
He will be paired in the final group Saturday with Singh, one of his many rivals. They have not played together since the opening two rounds at the Deutsche Bank Classic in 2007, and not in a major since the first two rounds of the 2004 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which Singh won for his third major.
 
Tomorrow, you position yourself, Woods said. You have to make sure youre there and in position, and I know Vijay isnt going to make a lot of mistakes. He doesnt. Hes going to be very consistent.
 
A dozen players from nine countries remained under par going into the weekend, five of them major champions. The group included Ernie Els, who rebounded with a 68 despite again missing a half-dozen birdie chances inside 8 feet.
 
Woods built his lead with birdies at the end. Equally important were pars throughout his round.
 
He made back-to-back 6-foot par putts, the latter after hitting into the bunker on the par-3 fourth, and regained control with a birdie from 20 feet on the sixth and a chip to 4 feet for birdie on the par-5 seventh.
 
Then came the struggle. After a three-putt bogey from 70 feet on the 10th, he had to scramble for par on the 11th by making a tricky 4-footer, then followed that by going from the right rough through the 12th green, an average chip and a 12-foot par that felt just as good as some of his birdies.
 
I could have easily shot a couple over par, he said. But I turned it into an under par round.
 
Not so for Phil Mickelson, playing his first major since the U.S. Open while missing most of the summer as his wife and mother battle breast cancer. Lefty again struggled on the greens, particularly the short putts that could have kept his round going.
 
He wound up with a 74 for the second straight day, the first time he has failed to shoot par or better in the opening two rounds of the PGA Championship. Only late in the day, as the greens turned bumpy, did he make the cut on the number at 4-over 148.
 
Im not going to beat many people putting the way I am, Mickelson said. Ive got to get this thing turned around.
 
For Woods, he again is headed in the right direction.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Getty Images

    Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

    Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

    Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

    “I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

    The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

    “I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
    Getty Images

    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.