Just Like Old Times

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2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill. -- The 1999 PGA Championship will forever be remembered for Tiger Woods winning and Sergio Garcia chasing ' both Tiger and his ball up to the green on 16.
 
That was the first major championship which I ever attended. And when I recall the event, I always think back to something else that happened that Sunday.
 
Mike Weir
Mike Weir is looking to win his second career major championship.
While Woods was basking in the glow of his first major triumph in 2 years, and Garcia was finding warmth in the prospect of a very bright future, there was Mike Weir, face ashen, looking like the victim of a hit-and-run.
 
Weir was competing in his first PGA Championship that week, just his third career major, and managed to make his way into the final twosome alongside Woods in the final round.
 
Then came Sunday. Sunday, bloody Sunday. If their physical appearances had matched their scorecards, Weir would have looked like Gerry Cooney to Tigers Larry Holmes.
 
Weir shot 80 that day, eight worse than Woods.
 
It would have been easy for Weir to just walk away after that. Not from the game, but from the scorers tent, into his courtesy car, and to any place not named Medinah.
 
But he didnt. He stopped and allowed a group of reporters and television types, myself included, to hound him about his most miserable performance.
 
He answered every question. Never made a snarky comment. Never made excuses. All he did was praise Woods and say, Its not like I was trying to shoot 80. Thats just the best I could shoot today. I tried my best.
 
He was the definition of professional. It was quite impressive.
 
Looking back, Weir, who was just in his second full season on the PGA TOUR at the time, admits that the situation was just too overwhelming. Everything in the periphery distorted his focus.
 
It was painful. It wasnt a fun day, Weir recalled. I remember feeling after about nine holes, just kind of spacey, just kind of spun out. I couldnt believe what was going on.
 
I think it was just inexperience.
 
Of course, Weir has since redeemed himself on a major level, winning the Masters Tournament in 2003 while playing in the final group. Now, a veteran winner of seven TOUR events, he has a chance to take a measure of revenge on Medinah.
 
To do so, hell once again have to beat Woods, this time from arrears, and he may have to fend off Garcia as well.
 
While this years principals hearken back to 1999; the event itself is reminiscent of 2000.
 
Woods won his second straight PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club, doing so in a Sunday shoot-out with Bob May. The winning score that year was 18 under, seven lower than it was the year before, and it appears were headed in that direction.
 
Woods, who hasnt won the PGA since 2000, held the 54-hole lead that year at 13 under ' one higher than this year. The big difference this time, however, is that many of his pursuers have major credibility.
 
May, Scott Dunlap, J.P. Hayes and Greg Chalmers have been replaced with Luke Donald, Weir, U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, Garcia and 2003 winner Shaun Micheel.
 
On a day in which red numbers reigned, Woods tied the course record, shooting 7-under 65 to grab a share of the third-round lead with Donald, who had a 66.
 
Weir is alone in second place after his own 65, two back at 12 under. Ogilvy overcame a first-hole double bogey to shoot 68 and get to 11 under. Garcia (67) and Micheel (67) are four back.
 
In most major championships, you make par and sprinkle in a couple of birdies here and there, youre looking pretty good. Today, you would have just been run over, Woods said. Tomorrow, I think anyone who wants to win this championship has to make birdies.
 
'Somebody from the pack is going to charge out and make some early birdies and go low,' Donald said. 'So pars are not going to be very good tomorrow.'
 
'It's going to take something pretty special,' said Ogilvy. 'It would not be out of the realm of possibility a 20-under (score) could win this tournament. That (means) me shooting 9 under.'
 
Ive got to go out there and Ive got to do it, said Garcia. Its as simple as that.
 
Fate and Destiny appear to be on hand this week. But for whom are they rooting?
 
Are they for Woods, who won here the last time the tournament was contested? Are they for Donald, who lives in the area and attended nearby Northwestern University? Are they for Garcia, whose best major performance came here in 99? Are they for Micheel, who told his caddie prior to the start of the tournament that Medinah reminded him a lot of Oak Hill, where he won his one and only TOUR title?
 
Or are they conspiring for Weir, whom they double-kicked in the choppers in the final round here seven years ago?
 
Weir hasnt won on TOUR since the 2004 Nissan Open. The one time he had a chance to do so this year, when he held a share of the 54-hole lead at Pebble Beach, he closed in 78.
 
Things didnt look promising out of the gates this week either, opening with a modest 72. But he has since turned things around, even to his surprise, going 67-65.
 
History tells us that Fate and Destiny are always in the corner of Woods in this situation. Hes 11-0 when holding at least a share of the lead entering the final round of a major championship.
 
But, as Weir says: Im about due.
 
I know everybodys expectations are that (Tigers) going to go out and go win the championship, because hes done it so many times from the front, Weir said. But theres always a time to stop the streak. Hopefully I can do it.
 
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