Ames Gets Final Pairing with Tiger

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PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- This time, Stephen Ames is spotting Tiger Woods three strokes and keeping his mouth shut.
 
Even with that, it's hard to imagine Ames will end up as much more than a trivia question when the PGA Championship is over Sunday.
 
Ames closed his third round with a birdie Saturday to put himself in second place and in the final pairing with Woods. Next up, a rematch of sorts of their infamous match play debacle 18 months ago.
 
That was the one in which Ames had a first-round match against Woods and, asked to handicap that match, said, 'Anything can happen, especially where he's hitting the ball.'
 
Woods responded by spanking him 9 and 8.
 
Later, Ames claimed he was merely joking when he suggested Woods wasn't playing his best. Woods didn't see it that way.
 
Asked about the incident in the interview room Saturday -- well, not surprisingly -- Ames didn't want to go there.
 
'Are we here at the PGA Championship or are we here at the Match Play? Which one are we talking about?' he said after rolling his eyes in disgust.
 
He claimed his statement had been taken out of context. OK, so how about recasting the quote so it can't be misconstrued?
 
'I don't know if I want to go there because you might take it out of context again. So we'll leave it at that. Next question,' he said.
 
Woods remembered the whole thing. Or at least the most important parts.
 
'I don't know about the whole out-of-context thing,' Woods said. 'All I know is, I read the quote and I knew if I went out there and played well that I felt pretty good about it. And I won 10 and 8.'
 
Ten and 8, 9 and 8 -- that's mere nitpicking. Suffice to say that in an 18-hole match, there is no bigger possible blowout.
 
Woods said he wouldn't use that year-and-a-half-old statement as motivation on Sunday.
 
'I know what I have to do,' he said. 'I'll stick to my guns.'
 
He has a reputation, though, for using any perceived slight as fuel for his nonstop climb to golf immortality.
 
And somebody else is offering up options this week.
 
It's Woody Austin, who until Ames made his late putt, figured to have the spot in that final pairing sewn up.
 
Austin has been beating himself up most of the week for opportunities squandered, believing he coulda, shoulda been closer to Woods than four strokes heading into the final round.
 
He reiterated that point Saturday, after his 1-under-par round left him at 3 under for the tournament -- not bad for a guy who's never finished better than 16th in a major.
 
Woods tied the major record with a 63 on Friday. Austin shot 70.
 
'I could go through his round yesterday and I outplayed him at least four or five shots and he beat me by seven,' Austin said. 'I could run down his round because I watched it. And I had it inside him all day long, and he beat me by seven shots. So if I have his round and I play that way, then I think I can shoot 63, also.'
 
Austin did concede that the nerves that figure to get to him Sunday could 'make the odds a little bit tough.'
 
'But if I play that way and I do that, then yeah, I can go as low as anybody,' he said.
 
Maybe not bulletin-board material, but confident indeed.
 
Ames has a bit different attitude, knowing he'll be playing with Woods, instead of in front of him.
 
The 12 players who have played alongside Woods in the final rounds of majors he has won have averaged nearly 73, hardly the score of champions.
 
Part of it is the golf course. Part of it is the competition.
 
'He has that influence on players,' Ames said, offering a much different kind of candor than the last time.
 
'It's probably going to happen to me.'
 
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