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.
 
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    Watson back in top 40 after OWGR free fall

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Bubba Watson ended his free fall in the Official World Golf Ranking with a two-shot victory Sunday at the Genesis Open.

    Watson, a fixture in the top 10 in the world as recently as 13 months ago, had dropped all the way to 117th after a 2017 season in which he struggled with poor form, illness and desire.

    After his third career win at Riviera, he is up to 40th.

    Kevin Na rose from 95th to 65th after tying for second in Los Angeles, while Tony Finau jumped from 41st to 33rd.

    Tiger Woods actually improved in the world ranking, from No. 550 to No. 544, despite a missed cut at the Genesis Open.

    On the European Tour, Joost Luiten surged from 90th to 68th after his victory in Oman.

    The top 10 in the world remained unchanged as the PGA Tour heads into the Florida swing: Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy.

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    Bubba catapults, Phil creeps up in Ryder Cup standings

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 1:21 pm

    Bubba Watson was an assistant on the 2016 Ryder Cup team. He doesn’t want to be driving a cart in Paris.

    Watson, thanks to his victory in the Genesis Open, jumped from 60th to 10th in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings. The top eight after the PGA Championship qualify automatically for this year’s edition at Le Golf National in France.

    Phil Mickelson moved up one spot to 11th after tying for sixth at Riviera Country Club.

    Players will receive one point per dollar earned in regular events this year, with 1.5 points per dollar in majors and two points per dollar for winning a major. Here's a look at the current U.S. standings:

    1. Dustin Johnson

    2. Brooks Koepka

    3. Justin Thomas

    4. Jordan Spieth

    5. Matt Kuchar

    6. Brian Harman

    7. Gary Woodland

    8. Rickie Fowler

    ---

    9. Chez Reavie

    10. Bubba Watson

    11. Phil Mickelson

    12. Patrick Reed


    On the European side, the top four players from the Ryder Cup points list will be joined by the top four qualifiers from the world points list, with captain Thomas Bjorn making four additional selections. Here's a look at the current top names:

    Ryder Cup Points

    1. Justin Rose

    2. Tyrrell Hatton

    3. Ross Fisher

    4. Matthew Fitzpatrick

    World Points

    1. Jon Rahm

    2. Tommy Fleetwood

    3. Sergio Garcia

    4. Rory McIlroy

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    Genesis Open purse payout: Bubba makes bank

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 1:03 pm

    Bubba Watson won the Genesis Open for a third time on Sunday, moving his career PGA Tour win total to 10. Here's a look at how the purse paid out at Riviera Country Club.

    1 Bubba Watson -12 $1,296,000
    T2 Kevin Na -10 $633,600
    T2 Tony Finau -10 $633,600
    T4 Scott Stallings -9 $316,800
    T4 Patrick Cantlay -9 $316,800
    T6 Adam Hadwin -8 $241,200
    T6 Phil Mickelson -8 $241,200
    T6 Cameron Smith -8 $241,200
    T9 Jordan Spieth -7 $180,000
    T9 Martin Laird -7 $180,000
    T9 Xander Schauffele -7 $180,000
    T9 Ryan Moore -7 $180,000
    T9 Justin Thomas -7 $180,000
    T14 James Hahn -6 $133,200
    T14 Aaron Baddeley -6 $133,200
    T16 Alex Noren -4 $111,600
    T16 Sung-hoon Kang -4 $111,600
    T16 Dustin Johnson -4 $111,600
    T16 Derek Fathauer -4 $111,600
    T20 Rory McIlroy -3 $78,000
    T20 Bud Cauley -3 $78,000
    T20 Kevin Chappell -3 $78,000
    T20 Talor Gooch -3 $78,000
    T20 Jason Kokrak -3 $78,000
    T20 Vaughn Taylor -3 $78,000
    T26 John Huh -2 $46,996
    T26 Peter Uihlein -2 $46,996
    T26 Luke List -2 $46,996
    T26 Rafael Cabrera Bello -2 $46,996
    T26 Patrick Rodgers -2 $46,996
    T26 Jamie Lovemark -2 $46,996
    T26 Dominic Bozzelli -2 $46,996
    T26 Matt Kuchar -2 $46,996
    T26 Anirban Lahiri -2 $46,996
    T26 Sam Saunders -2 $46,996
    T26 Graeme McDowell -2 $46,996
    T37 Branden Grace -1 $33,120
    T37 Tommy Fleetwood -1 $33,120
    T37 Charles Howell III -1 $33,120
    T37 Luke Donald -1 $33,120
    T41 Bryson DeChambeau E $24,516
    T41 Troy Merritt E $24,516
    T41 Kevin Streelman E $24,516
    T41 Pat Perez E $24,516
    T41 Charley Hoffman E $24,516
    T41 Brandon Harkins E $24,516
    T41 Jonas Blixt E $24,516
    T41 Nick Taylor E $24,516
    T49 Austin Cook 1 $17,964
    T49 Brendan Steele 1 $17,964
    T49 Paul Casey 1 $17,964
    T49 Chad Campbell 1 $17,964
    T53 Tom Hoge 2 $16,437
    T53 Benjamin Silverman 2 $16,437
    T53 Li HaoTong 2 $16,437
    T53 Retief Goosen 2 $16,437
    T53 Martin Kaymer 2 $16,437
    T53 Adam Schenk 2 $16,437
    T53 Adam Scott 2 $16,437
    T60 Ryan Blaum 3 $15,696
    T60 J.B. Holmes 3 $15,696
    T60 Harold Varner, III 3 $15,696
    63 Kelly Kraft 4 $15,408
    T64 Padraig Harrington 5 $15,120
    T64 Ryan Armour 5 $15,120
    T64 Sean O'Hair 5 $15,120
    67 Martin Piller 6 $14,832
    T68 Thomas Pieters 7 $14,400
    T68 Greg Chalmers 7 $14,400
    T68 Abraham Ancer 7 $14,400
    T68 Tyrone van Aswegen 7 $14,400
    T68 Charl Schwartzel 7 $14,400
    T73 Vijay Singh 8 $13,896
    T73 Chez Reavie 8 $13,896
    T75 Sang-Moon Bae 10 $13,608
    T75 David Lingmerth 10 $13,608
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    After Further Review: Haas crash strikes a chord

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 2:39 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.


    On the horrifying car crash involving Bill Haas ...

    I spent a lot of time this week thinking about Bill Haas. He was the passenger in a car crash that killed a member of his host family. That man, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was a successful businessman in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a new friend.

    Haas escaped without any major injuries, but he withdrew from the Genesis Open to return home to Greenville, S.C. When he’ll return to the Tour is anyone’s guess. It could be a while, as he grapples with the many emotions after surviving that horrifying crash – seriously, check out the photos – while the man next to him did not.

    The entire Haas clan is some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Wish them the best in their recovery. – Ryan Lavner


    On TIger Woods' missed cut at the Genesis Open ...

    After missing the cut at the Genesis Open by more than a few car lengths, Tiger Woods appeared to take his early exit in stride. Perhaps that in and of itself is a form of progress.

    Years ago, a second-round 76 with a tattered back-nine scorecard would have elicited a wide range of emotions. But none of them would have been particularly tempered, or optimistic, looking ahead to his next start. At age 42, though, Woods has finally ceded that a win-or-bust mentality is no longer helpful or productive.

    The road back from his latest surgery will be a winding one, mixed with both ups and downs. His return at Torrey Pines qualified as the former, while his trunk slam at Riviera certainly served as the latter. There will surely be more of both in the coming weeks and months, and Woods’ ability to stomach the rough patches could prove pivotal for his long-term prognosis. - Will Gray


    On the debate over increased driving distance on the PGA Tour ...

    The drumbeat is only going to get louder as the game’s best get longer. On Sunday, Bubba Watson pounded his way to his 10th PGA Tour title at the Genesis Open and the average driving distance continues to climb.

    Lost in the debate over driving distances and potential fixes, none of which seem to be simple, is a beacon of sanity, Riviera Country Club’s par-4 10th hole. The 10th played just over 300 yards for the week and yet yielded almost as many bogeys (86) as birdies (87) with a 4.053 stroke average.

    That ranks the 10th as the 94th toughest par 4 on Tour this season, ahead of behemoths like the 480-yard first at Waialae and 549-yard 17th at Kapalua. Maybe the game doesn’t need new rules that limit how far the golf ball goes, maybe it just needs better-designed golf holes. - Rex Hoggard


    On the depth of LPGA talent coming out of South Korea ...

    The South Korean pipeline to the LPGA shows no signs of drying up any time soon. Jin Young Ko, 22, won her LPGA debut as a tour member Sunday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and Hyejin Choi, 18, nearly won the right to claim LPGA membership there.

    The former world No. 1 amateur who just turned pro finished second playing on a sponsor exemption. Sung Hyun Park, who shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last year, is set to make her 2018 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

    And Inbee Park is set to make her return to the LPGA in two weeks at the HSBC Women’s World Championship after missing most of last year due to injury. The LPGA continues to go through South Korea no matter where this tour goes. - Randall Mell