No Definitive Player of the Year


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -- The PGA Championship failed to provide a clear front-runner in what remains a tight race for player of the year.
And that's quite a difference after Tiger Woods handily won the honor in each of the past four years.
'It's fun to have it up in the air,' Fred Funk said Sunday. 'It's usually, 'Just give it to Tiger. Just write 'Tiger.'''
Jay Haas joked that he might even work his way into the race after finishing in a tie for fifth Sunday.
'I'm not done yet,' Haas said. 'I might win five in a row or something.'
The winner is decided on a points system that takes into account tournament wins, money standings and scoring averages.
Masters champion Mike Weir had a slight lead heading into last week, with Woods, Davis Love III and U.S. Open champ Jim Furyk among those close behind.
Weir was in a position to all but lock up first place with a win at Oak Hill Country Club, before falling out of contention in the final round, and finishing in a tie for seventh.
Funk favors Furyk, who's won twice this season, and has 11 top-10 finishes.
'It seems like he's won eight times,' Funk said. 'But you throw that U.S. Open in there, that's huge.'
Oak Hill Country Club answered its critics who questioned whether the 77-year-old course could hold up against today's longer hitters.
Deep rough that in some places measured eight inches and narrow fairways challenged a field that included 96 of the world's top 100 golfers.
'That was the most difficult test I've ever been put to in all the majors I've played in,' said Kenny Perry, who finished in a tie for ninth at 5-over 285.
Added Hal Sutton: 'I think there is all the golf course out there that you want.'
That's a relief for course officials, who feared Oak Hill might play too soft after being soaked by two weeks of rain leading up to the tournament.
And it goes against what Tom Watson suggested, believing older courses such as this are becoming obsolete with the introduction of better drivers and golf balls.
The field played the 7,134-yard, par-70 course at an average score of 74.3.
Oak Hill yielded just five eagles, including Robert Allenby's ace on No. 11 in the opening round. There were only 468 birdies as compared to 1,217 bogeys or worse.
Number 17, an intimidating 495-yard, par-4, played the hardest through the tournament, giving up only 17 birdies. There were a tournament-high 233 bogeys or worse carded on the hole.
The 570-yard, par-5 fourth played the easiest, the only one that averaged under par, coming in at 4.975.
Oak Hill is no stranger to majors. This is where Jack Nicklaus won his fifth major, tying Walter Hagen, at the 1980 PGA Championship. It has also hosted the U.S. Open in 1956, 1968 and 1989, and the Ryder Cup in 1995.
Jay Haas recalled the day his son, Bill, carded a 10-under 60 at the Porter Cup amateur in nearby Niagara Falls last month.
Jay had just finished shooting an opening-round 63 to take the lead at the Greater Hartford Open when he got a message from his son.
'He said, 'Dad, nice going. Way to play, keep it up. But, by the way, I nipped you by three,'' Haas said.
The senior Haas is very familiar with the Porter Cup, once finishing second prior to turning pro in 1978.
Haas added that he's expecting his son to turn pro next spring after completing his college eligibility at Wake Forest.
By winning, Shaun Micheel earned a lifetime PGA Championship exemption, five-year exemptions to compete at the three other majors, and a five-year PGA Tour exemption. ... Micheel also joins the three other major winners to compete at the Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii in December. ... Along with Micheel, Chad Campbell, Timothy Clark and Alex Cejka are eligible to compete in next year's Masters for finishing in the top four. ... Veteran Tom Watson was almost perfect in his pre-tournament prediction in saying that the winning score would be 5 under and there would only be three players to break par. Micheel finished at 4 under, with Campbell and Clark the only others under par. ... Rod Pampling, the first-round co-leader, finished at 6 over in a tie for 14th. That's much better than how he fared at the 1999 British Open, when he went from first-round leader to missing the cut. 'This is only my third major to be in and realistically, I led two of them,' Pampling said. 'Hopefully, a few more down the track, I might be able to stick all the way to the end.'
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