Tiger Time Once Again at PGA Championship

By Associated PressAugust 11, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Tiger Woods saved his best golf for the last major.
 
Woods followed his record-tying 63 at Southern Hills with a round that wasn't anything special Saturday, but no less effective at the PGA Championship. He made 15 pars in his 1-under 69, giving him a three-shot lead over Stephen Ames going into the final round.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods didn't make every putt Saturday, but he made enough to extend his lead. (Getty Images)
It felt much larger considering the history of the world's No. 1 player.
 
Woods is 12-0 when going into the final round of major with at least a share of the lead, and he has never lost any tournament when leading by more than one shot after 54 holes.
 
'I accomplished my goal today,' Woods said. 'My goal was to shoot under par and increase my lead. And I was able to do that.'
 
A blue towel was draped over his shoulder as Woods, his shirt soaked with sweat from spending four hours in 100-plus degrees, sat in an air-conditioned room.
 
A white flag might be in order for everyone else.
 
'The statistics will tell you, yes, it is over,' Ernie Els said after a 69 left him six shots behind. 'But as a competitor, I can't sit there and tell you it's over. I can't ever do that.'
 
But if he were watching from his house?
 
'If I was not a golfer -- a fan on the couch -- I'd be putting my house on him, yeah,' Els said.
 
Woods made it look as though this were a Sunday afternoon and he was protecting his lead, not taking on many flags or working too hard for par. He picked up his lone birdies at Nos. 4 and 12, and had two par saves of about 10 feet on the front nine that allowed him to keep his distance from Scott Verplank and the rest of the field.
 
Woods finished at 7-under 203 and will play in the final round of a major for the third time this year. He was trailing at the Masters and U.S. Open and never caught up, but the odds are much higher in his favor of capturing his first major of the year.
 
Ames made a 12-foot birdie on the final hole for a 69 that put him in the final group of a major for the first time. Just his luck he gets Woods, spotting the 12-time major champion a three-shot lead.
 
Ames bristled when his loss to Woods in the Accenture Match Play Championship last year was brought up again. He jokingly said that anything could happen 'especially where he's hitting the ball,' and Woods went on to a record 9-and-8 victory two days later.
 
This time, Ames figures he has nothing to lose.
 
'For me, it's a great opportunity of being in the situation,' he said. 'Tiger's going for his 13th. I'm looking for my first.'
 
Only five players remained under par at Southern Hills.
 
Woody Austin lost his chance to be in the final group when he took bogey on the final hole for a 69, leaving him at 207. Johnson Senden had a 69 and was another shot back, followed by Els.
 
Verplank held his own until a double bogey from the rough and trees on the signature 12th hole, and a three-putt from the back of the 18th green for bogey sent him to a 74.
 
For the briefest moment, the former U.S. Amateur champion from Oklahoma State pulled within one shot. Verplank dribbled an 8-foot birdie putt down the hill and into the cup at No. 4 to reach 5 under, only to watch Woods hole a 6-foot putt to match his birdie and restore the margin to two shots.
 
Walking to the fifth tee, Verplank smirked and said, 'That guy makes everything.'
 
It sure looked that way.
 
Woods atoned for a poor chip on the third with a 10-foot par save, and saved par from 10 feet again on the eighth after hitting into a bunker. His streak of 24 straight holes without a bogey ended when he hit 6-iron into the bunker on the 14th and missed from 18 feet.
 
He led by as many as five shots on the back nine until that bogey on 14. Even so, it was his largest lead going into the final round of a major since the 2005 Masters, which he won in a playoff over Chris DiMarco.
 
'If you're trying to win a tournament like this, he's the wrong guy to let get out ahead of you,' Verplank said.
 
One after another, players finished their rounds, looked at the top of the leaderboard and figured it would require their best round to have any chance of winning. They have seen this before.
 
And so has Woods, even if he won't concede the tournament is over.
 
This is only the fifth time in his career that Woods came to the final major of the year without winning one, although he arrived at Southern Hills fresh off an eight-shot victory at a World Golf Championship. But the work is not done.
 
'I've always said in order to have a great year you have to win a major championship,' he said. 'You can win every tournament, but the majors are where it's at. And this year, I've had some opportunities to deal with this. I haven't done it. I'm in good shape going into tomorrow and hopefully, I can get it done.'
 
The only low scores were in the morning, when the greens were still smooth. Boo Weekley had a chance to shoot 63 until he hit his approach on the 18th about 45 feet away and took three putts for a bogey and a 65.
 
Playing with Weekley was Sergio Garcia, but not for long. Weekley marked down a 4 for Garcia on the 17th hole when the Spaniard made 5, and Garcia signed it anyway and was disqualified.
 
Trevor Immelman had a 66, but all that got him was to 1 over par, eight shots behind a guy who has never lost a lead in the majors.
 
Woods looked as though he might come back to the field, but he steadied himself quickly. He saved par twice on the first three holes, then wiggled his way out of trouble on the par-5 fifth when he bounced his third shot out of the rough, under a tree and tumbling up to the green about 35 feet left of the pin.
 
He left several birdie putts short, but rarely had to grind for par.
 
That left him where he wants to be -- in the lead at a major, daring anyone to catch him. The 11 guys who have been paired with him in the final round of a major (Garcia did it twice) still haven't figured it out.
 
Someone asked Woods what effect his presence atop the leaderboard had on the rest of the field, what would cause a three-time major champion like Els to say he would bet the house on Woods if he weren't trying to beat him.
 
'Maybe because I've won 12 majors,' he replied.
 
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    Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

    The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

    Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

    The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

    Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.



    Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

    "If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

    "Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

    "In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

    "I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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    Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

    PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

    Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

    ''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''


    Full-field scores from the BMW International Open


    Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

    ''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

    Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

    England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.

    Sunghyun Park (left) and Minchel Choi (right). Getty Images

    Choi, Park qualify for Carnoustie from Korean Open

    By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 2:54 pm

    Two players - Minchel Choi and Sanghyun Park - qualified for next month's Open Championship at Carnoustie via the Open Qualifying Series on Sunday.

    Choi (69) held off Park (66) to win the Korean Open by two shots.

    This was the Qualifying Series debut for the Korean Open, whiched awarded Open Championship exemptions to the tournament's top two finishers inside the top eight and ties who were not already qualified.

    Choi, the 532nd-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, punched his ticket in his first professional win.

    Park, the 146th in the world, is a six-time Korean Tour champion who has already won twice this season. 

    Both players will be making their first ever major starts.

    “I am absolutely honored to be playing in The Open and I wanted to win this championship to give me [that] opportunity," Choi said. "I cannot believe that I have won today. I am so happy and excited."

    “It is a great honor to have qualified for The Open and make my first appearance in the championship," Park added. "I’ve watched The Open on television every single year and I can’t really believe that I have qualified, it is amazing."

    The Open Qualifying Series continues next week at the Open de France, where as many as three exemptions will be awarded to the three leading players inside the top 10 and ties who are not already qualified.

    The 147th Open will be held at Carnoustie from July 19-22.

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    Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

    ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

    The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

    Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

    ''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

    The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.


    Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


    Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

    Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

    ''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

    Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

    First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.