Singh Leonard Lead Tiger Survives

By Sports NetworkAugust 13, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 PGA ChampionshipHAVEN, Wis. -- Justin Leonard posted a three-under 69 and Vijay Singh carded a 4-under 68 on Friday to share the lead midway through the 86th PGA Championship. The duo stands at 9-under-par 135 and owns a one-shot lead at Whistling Straits.
 
Overnight leader Darren Clarke shot a 1-under 71 and is tied for third with Ernie Els (70) and Briny Baird (69). The trio is knotted at 8-under-par 136.
 
Tiger Woods' PGA Tour record of 128 consecutive cuts made was in serious jeopardy on Friday. He birdied the 16th and 17th holes to shoot a 69 and make the cut by a shot at even-par 144.
 
The last time Woods failed to make a cut was the 1998 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The tournament was reduced to 54 holes and due to weather problems, the final round was pushed from early February to mid-August. He did not return for the final round, so he failed to make the cut.
 
The Canadian Open in September of 1997 was the last time Woods missed the 36-hole cut in a traditional sense.
 
At last year's Tour Championship, Woods eclipsed Byron Nelson's 55-year-old record of 113 consecutive cuts. He made the first 14 cuts this season, but a terrible round of driving nearly cost Woods his first missed cut in a major since turning professional in 1996.
 
Woods started the second round at 3 over par and the projected cut line looked like plus-1. He opened Friday's second round with a 3-foot birdie putt that came from a beautiful approach out of the first cut of rough. Woods added a two-putt birdie at the par-5 second to get to 1-over, but trouble loomed for the two-time PGA Champion.
 
Woods found the water off the tee at the par-5 fifth and took his drop, then a questionable path to the green. He hit a 3-wood from the thick rough into thick rough near the putting surface. Woods pitched 40 yards right of the green, then hit his fifth to 5 feet. He holed that putt for bogey, then missed an 8-footer to save par at the sixth.
 
He continued to miss fairways, but scrambled for pars. Woods sank a 4-footer for par at the 15th and split the fairway at the par-5 16th. Woods' 6-iron from 207 landed 45 feet right of the hole and his eagle putt skimmed the hole on the left side. He ran home the 3-footer for birdie to get to the number.
 
Woods tacked on another birdie at the 17th when he got a great read from playing partner Singh's birdie putt. Woods rolled in the 20-footer to reach even-par for the championship.
 
The No. 1 player in the world for 331 weeks ripped his drive down the fairway at the last. Woods hit his second in the right rough, pin-high but gave himself very little green to work with. He pitched 4 feet short of the hole and converted the par putt to keep his hopes alive of breaking a major drought that dates back to the 2002 U.S. Open.
 
'I got off to the greatest start you could possibly have,' said Woods, who is now at 129 consecutive cuts and counting. 'I threw those shots away real quick. I wasn't playing very well. I had to keep trying to make pars.'
 
With the Woods drama out of the way, Leonard and Singh, who played with Woods in the first two rounds, stole the show at a Whistling Straits course that played more difficultly than in round one.
 
The wind blew harder and the course played more to the length that made it the longest course in major championship history.
 
Leonard began on the back nine Friday and wasted little time in getting into red figures. He rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt at the 10th, then missed a 7-footer for par at No. 12.
 
The 1997 British Open champion kicked in a short birdie putt at the par-5 16th and sank an 8-foot birdie putt at the first. Leonard hit a 7-iron to 20 feet at the third and made the putt for his fourth birdie of the round and a share of the lead at 9 under.
 
Leonard drove in a fairway bunker at the fourth and laid up short of the putting surface. His third landed 10 feet from the hole, but Leonard missed the par putt to fall from first. He hit a pitching-wedge to 2 feet at the next hole to reclaim his share of the lead.
 
'I felt like I played pretty solid today, not quite as well as yesterday, but still it was a good day,' said Leonard, who held the 54-hole lead of the PGA Championship in 2002. 'I'm just glad to shoot a couple of good rounds and be in good position going into this weekend.'
 
Singh, the 1998 winner of the Wanamaker Trophy, did not get off to a great start on Friday. He hit a horrible drive, then three-putted from 45 feet for a bogey.
 
He drained an 8-footer for birdie at two, then tallied back-to-back birdies at four and five. Singh hit a sand-wedge to 15 feet on No. 10 to set up birdie and get to 8 under for the championship. He knocked an 8-iron to 5 feet for another birdie at 14 and a share of the lead.
 
Singh quickly lost his piece of first. His drive at 15 landed in the bunker, then his 6-iron went left. Singh chipped to 20 feet and two-putted for a bogey, falling one behind Leonard.
 
Singh, who won the Masters in 2000, reached the green in two with a 5-iron at the par-5 16th. He two-putted from 25 feet for birdie, then nearly holed a 90-foot putt at the last that would have given him first by himself.
 
'I'm going to try my hardest to win this one,' said Singh, who has four wins in 2004, including a title at the Buick Open two weeks ago. 'Not winning from 2000, obviously I'm disappointed that I have not won any more majors, but there's always the next one. I always keep telling myself that, and this is another good opportunity right here.'
 
Clarke, who played with Leonard on Thursday and Friday, double bogeyed the 11th, his second, but tallied four birdies over his next 12 holes. He made a mess of the sixth and bogeyed the hole, then drained a 60-footer for birdie at No. 7. Clarke lipped out a 4-footer for par at eight to fall one of the lead.
 
Els built a two-stroke lead with four birdies over his opening 10 holes. He drove into the tall grass on the left side at 11 and made bogey.
 
This year's runner up at the Masters and British Open hit his tee ball in the left rough at the par-5 16th. His second went farther left into a bunker and all Els could do was play his third into another sand trap closer to the green. Els blasted that shot 35 feet past the stick and two-putted for a bogey that dropped him into the share of second.
 
Baird played in the morning and recorded four birdies in his first seven. He went 1-over the rest of the way, but is in position for not only his first major, but victory No. 1 on the PGA Tour.
 
'I can't come in thinking I've got a great shot at winning, because the fact of the matter is, Ernie has a better chance of winning this golf tournament than I do, or Tiger or Vijay,' said Baird. 'They have done it, and I'm still sitting here hoping to talk to you guys on Sunday. Until I do it, it's hard for me to say that.'
 
Chris DiMarco holed out for an eagle at the 14th en route to a 2-under 70. He is alone in sixth at minus-6, followed by Stephen Ames (71), K.J. Choi (71), Padraig Harrington (71) and Chris Riley (70). That group finished two rounds at 5-under-par 139.
 
Reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson shot an even-par 72 and is part of a group tied for 13th, along with Miguel Angel Jimenez, who fired the low round of the day with a 7-under 65. Mickelson and Jimenez headline a logjam at minus-3.
 
Defending champion Shaun Micheel rebounded with a 4-under 68 on Friday and made the cut at 1-over-par 145. Among the notable players who will not be around on the weekend are: Sergio Garcia (146), Mike Weir (146), Davis Love III (148), Jim Furyk (153) and Ryder Cup hopeful Jerry Kelly (153).
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - PGA Championship
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  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Course Tour - Whistling Straits
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    Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

    RISING

    Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

    Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

    Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

    Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

    Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


    FALLING

    Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

    Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

    Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

    Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

    Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.