Sundays final round has the makings for a classic

By Rex HoggardAugust 15, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' Those of us who fill Web pages and airtime should be forgiven, what with a collective attention deficit disorder and history conspiring against us.
 
The vast majority of the press corps would have been tickled silly if the PGA called it a week after 36 holes, stuffed the Wanamaker Trophy in Tiger Woods Mercedes Benz courtesy car and put on an art festival or some such community meet-and-greet on Saturday and Sunday at the converted corn field in the middle of Minnesota.
 
But then they like to play the full 72 at these major shindigs, sticklers for history and habit and all.
 
Good thing, because on Saturday the lock looked human, of all things.
 
What was widely being billed as a foregone conclusion after Woods put the Heisman on the field with a closing nine of 35 on Friday for a four-stroke lead that may as well have been 40, now has the makings of a fiery classic.
 
Under threatening skies on Saturday, the lambs turned on the wolf, cutting Woods lead to two strokes, then one, then none. Thanks to Padraig Harrington and a serious Korean named Y.E. Yang the blowout at Hazeltine National turned into a bout.
 
Sure, the collective only trimmed two strokes off Woods advantage by the time a storm and Woods third-round 71 put an end to the proceedings, but its a start.
 
Sure, Woods is the games ' if not all of sports, with apologies to Mariano Rivera ' most vicious closer with a 47-for-50 victory line when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead.
 
Sure, that line gets even better when there is Grand Slam hardware to be had (14 for 14).
 
But Saturdays shuffling was at least a start and a reason for Minnesotans to brave a spotty forecast and a viewing public to hold off on preseason football.
 
All the world craves the drama sport supplies, and as historic as Woods 12-stroke romp at the 1997 Masters and 15-shot blowout at the 2000 U.S. Open were, head-to-head duels are what make magic.
 
Its not as if Woods is hearing FootJoy steps in his quest for his 15th major championship, but it is clear by his reaction to last weeks Stopwatch-gate at Firestone he savors a good tilt.
 
It is a rush and when you are in that position you know you are not playing poorly, Woods said. Its fun to go out and test what youve got when guys are throwing everything they have at you and youre throwing everything you have at them.
 
Its not as if Woods booted away his four-shot cushion. He wasnt kicking Taz when he made it off the course. He did what he does best at major championships ' survive. Truth be told, Hazeltine National is a delicate walk and Woods ' who cautioned against the early coronation on Thursday and Friday ' did well not to break any china on Saturday.
 
Its just Yang and Harrington did what they had to do, shooting 67 and 69, respectively, and saving us from the sleepiest of PGA Sundays.
 
I dont ever want it to be a walkover, said Steve Flesch, the only player who went out early Saturday to post a round in the 60s (69). I would think when people sit down on Sunday they will want someone to push Tiger. I want someone pushing Tiger.
 
Harrington knows the feeling. Five of his last 12 rounds have been played with the games preeminent buzz kill, at least for those who make a living coming up with ways to stop him.
 
Everybody wants to see a battle, said Harrington, who, for the second consecutive day, bogeyed the last to forfeit his seat at the big table. They want the underdog to catch up, but they still want the hero to win. Thats the fairytale.
 
It has been the year of the Heartbreak Slam, with near misses at the Masters (Kenny Perry), U.S. Open (Phil Mickelson and David Duval) and British Open (Tom Watson) and in many respects Harrington fits the bill of jilted also-ran.
 
The Irishman has been a work-in-progress for much of 2009 but remembered he was the winner of three major championships at last weeks Bridgestone Invitational only to fall victim to a stopwatch. Hes also been unfairly dogged by the notion that his last two Grand Slam titles (2008s British Open and PGA) were somehow cheapened by Woods surgery-induced absence. Its hogwash, of course, but a subplot to Sundays action nonetheless.
 
For Padraig thats what he wants more than anything, Michael Allen said. He won the PGA and the Open Championship without Tiger Woods in the field and this would mean more than any of the other victories because he is here.
 
And a challenge, be it from Harrington or Yang or the closet TBD on the tee sheet, is all the golf world craves. Is that too much to ask for?
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

    By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

    Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

    Getty Images

    LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

    The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

    LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

    "The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

    It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

    "He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

    After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

    The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

    At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

    But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

    What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

    Woods' initial comeback short-lived, leads to another back surgery

    Article: Woods undergoes "successful" fourth back surgery

    Article: Woods (back spasm) withdraws from Dubai

    Article: Players disappointed Woods withdraws from Dubai

    Really, again: Tiger undergoes fourth back surgery

    Begay on Tiger: Future is 'extremely uncertain'


    Woods arrested for DUI, enters diversion program after getting "professional help"

    Article: Woods arrested for DUI in May

    Article: Police say Woods had 5 drugs in system when arrested

    Article: DUI affidavit states Tiger asleep in parked car

    Dashcam video released of Tiger's DUI arrest

    Begay, Rolfing: Tiger's arrest needs to be wakeup call

    Photos: Tiger Woods' car during DUI arrest

    Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

    Photos: Tiger Woods in court for DUI hearing

    Article: Tiger gets 'professional help' for prescription meds

    Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

    Article: Woods pleads in court guilty to reckless driving


    Woods goes from unsure of his pro golf future to resuming full golf activities

    Article: Doctor clears Woods for full golf activity six months after back surgery

    Article: Tiger doesn't know what future holds

    Article: Woods back to making full swings

    Woods admits he might never return to competition

    Making progress: Breaking down Tiger's driver swing


    Woods returns to competition for first time since February at Hero World Challenge

    Article: Hero comeback a success for healthy Woods

    Article: Woods discusses his back: 'No issues at all, none'

    Tiger Tracker: Woods finished T-9 in return to competition

    Chamblee: 'I was wrong' about some of my Woods skepticism

    Tiger, if you were hurting, would you tell us? 'Yeah, I'd tell you'


    Woods out and about in 2017

    Article: Video, images of Tiger's round with Trump

    Article: Woods posts photo as 'Mac Daddy Santa'

    Article: Tiger at U.S. Open sitting in Nadal's box

    Article: Shirtless Tiger holds up a massive lobster

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm