Watney Furyk trail Kuchar at PGA Championship

By Associated PressAugust 14, 2010, 8:33 pm

2010 PGA Championship

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Now that the fog has lifted at the PGA Championship, things are getting interesting.

Matt Kuchar held onto his lead without hitting a shot, Jim Furyk climbed up the leaderboard with a flurry of birdies and Tiger Woods is on the prowl with two rounds in the books. And after two days of wind, rain and fog, conditions are just about perfect for the big names to make some big moves when the third round begins Saturday afternoon.

“With the dots where they are for this afternoon, there’s some really tough pins, but there’s some pretty accessible pins,” Woods said of the third-round setup at Whistling Straits. “Pins that you can take, be pretty aggressive at. You’ll probably see some pretty good scores this afternoon.”

Seventy-two players made the cut at 1-over. Among those who didn’t were Padraig Harrington, who had gotten himself back to even par only to double-bogey the 18th hole. British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell, defending PGA champ Y.E. Yang and Ryder Cup captains Corey Pavin and Colin Montgomerie also missed the cut.

Players will go off of both tees and in groups of three Saturday afternoon in hopes of making up some of the time lost in the long fog delays that delayed the start of play Thursday and Friday.

Kuchar was at 8 under after a 69 Friday, and had to wait until lunchtime to see if his lead would hold up.

It did.

Furyk birdied four of his first five holes after play resumed Saturday morning, finishing with a 68 that got him to 6 under. J.B. Holmes (66) is also at 6 under, trailing Kuchar by two strokes and Nick Watney by one. Bubba Watson (71), Vijay Singh (66) and Ryan Palmer (68) joined the big group at 5 under.

But the biggest mover was Woods.

The turmoil in his personal life has spilled over onto the golf course, and he arrived at Whistling Straits fresh off the worst performance of his career. After showing flashes of his old masterful self in the first round, Woods was back to the unpredictable play that’s dogged him all season.

It looked like more of the same Saturday, when he had to scramble early just to make the turn at even par. But he settled down with a birdie to start the back nine, and his 70 has him at 3 under – close enough that Kuchar and everyone else ahead of Woods ought to keep an eye on him.

This was the first time he was under par in back-to-back rounds since the Memorial. And it could have been even better.

After hitting to 8 feet for a birdie on 17, he pulled off a spectacular 5-wood out of the bunker on 18.

“I had no play straight at it,” Woods said of the bunker shot. “I couldn’t build a stance. But because of the slice I had to play, I had a stance for that. And so I went in and tried to play it and I pulled it off.”

Almost made birdie there, too, but his long putt stopped a few inches short of the hole.

“As I explained earlier … I was hitting it great and putting like a dog. And look where I was,” Woods said of his recent struggles. “I’m not hitting it well here and I’m putting well, and I’m right in the ballgame.”

The fog that has wreaked havoc on tee times at the PGA and further muddled what was already a wide-open championship finally lifted Saturday, and the golfers who came back early to finish their second rounds found far more favorable conditions. The wind that had been gusting Friday night was down to a whisper, the humidity was less oppressive and skies were mostly clear.

“Today was pretty much perfect,” Holmes said. “A little bit of breeze, but not much. The greens were good. So it was an opportunity to make some birdies.”

Furyk had birdied No. 9 just before the horn blew Friday night, and picked right back up Saturday morning with a birdie on his first hole. He bogeyed the par-5 11th, picking the wrong target on his second shot and landing in the rough.

But he rebounded with three straight birdies, giving him seven for the round.

“In a stretch of nine holes – over two days,” Furyk said. “The only disappointing part is I played the par-5s one over – three pars and a bogey, which is poor. But the other 14 holes I played beautifully and scored very well.”

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Azinger: 'Can't see anybody beating Tiger' at his best

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:44 pm

There's a new world No. 1, and a fresh crop of young guns eager to make their mark on the PGA Tour in 2019. But according to Paul Azinger, the player with the highest ceiling is still the same as it was when he was walking inside the ropes.

Azinger was named Monday as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports, and on "Morning Drive" he was asked which player is the best when all are playing their best. The former PGA champion pondered new world No. 1 Brooks Koepka and former No. 1 Dustin Johnson, but he came back around to a familiar answer: Tiger Woods.

"I just can't see anybody beating Tiger when Tiger's at his best. I just can't see it," Azinger said. "He's not his best yet, but he's almost his best. And when Tiger's his best, there's more that comes with Tiger than just the score he shoots. That crowd comes with Tiger, and it's a whole 'nother dynamic when Tiger's at his best. And I'm just going to have to say that when Tiger's at his best, he's still the best."

Woods, 42, started this year ranked No. 656 in the world but had a resurgent season that included a pair of near-misses at The Open and PGA Championship and culminated with his win at the Tour Championship that ended a five-year victory drought. For Azinger, the question now becomes how he can follow up a breakthrough campaign as he looks to contend consistently against players from a younger generation.

"That's why we watch, to see if he can maintain that. To see what he's capable of," Azinger said. "Now longevity becomes the issue for Tiger Woods. In seven or eight years, he's going to be 50 years old. That goes fast. I'm telling you, that goes really fast."

When Woods returns to action, he'll do so with a focus on the upcoming Masters as he looks to capture the 15th major title that has eluded him for more than a decade. With bombers like Koepka and Johnson currently reigning on the PGA Tour, Azinger believes the key for Woods will be remaining accurate while relying on the world-class iron play that has been a strength throughout his career.

"I think he's going to have to recognize that he's not the beast out there when it comes to smacking that ball off the tee. But I'd like to see him try to hit a couple more fairways periodically. That'd be nice," he said. "If he can drive that ball in the fairway, with that putter, we've seen what his putter is capable of. The sky's the limit, boys."

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Spieth drops out of top 10 for first time since 2014

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 2:08 pm

As Brooks Koepka ascended to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking, a former No. 1 continued a notable decline.

Jordan Spieth didn't play last week's CJ Cup, where Koepka won by four shots. But Jason Day did, and his T-5 finish in South Korea moved him up two spots from No. 12 to No. 10 in the latest rankings. Spieth dropped from 10th to 11th, marking the first time that he has been outside the top 10 in the world rankings since November 2014.

Since that time, he has won 12 times around the world, including three majors, while spending 26 weeks as world No. 1. But he hasn't won a tournament since The Open last July, and this year he missed the Tour Championship for the first time in his career. Spieth is expected to make his season debut next week in Las Vegas at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


Koepka and Day were the only movers among the top 10 on a week that saw many top players remain in place. Sergio Garcia's rain-delayed win at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters moved him up four spots to No. 27, while Gary Woodland went from 38th to 30th after finishing second behind Koepka on Jeju Island.

Koepka will tee off as world No. 1 for the first time this week at the WGC-HSBC Champions, where new No. 2 Dustin Johnson will look to regain the top spot. Justin Rose is now third in the world, with Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Day rounding out the top 10.

With his next competitive start unknown, Tiger Woods remained 13th in the world for the fifth straight week.

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Pavin's season nearly ends after slow-play penalty

By Will GrayOctober 22, 2018, 1:50 pm

Corey Pavin's season on the PGA Tour Champions nearly came to an end because of a slow-play penalty.

Penalties for pace are often discussed or threatened, but rarely doled out on either the PGA Tour or the over-50 circuit. But that changed Sunday during the final round of the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, where Pavin was told by a rules official after completing his round that he would receive a 1-stroke penalty for slow play.

The penalty was on the surface rather harmless, turning an even-par 72 into a 1-over 73 and dropping Pavin into a tie for 15th. But this was the first event of a three-tournament postseason for PGA Tour Champions players, and only the top 54 in points advanced to this week's Invesco QQQ Championship.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


Pavin, who has two top-10 finishes in 20 starts this season, barely held on at 53rd place after the penalty was enforced.

Slow-play discussions came up earlier this season surrounding Bernhard Langer at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, but Golf Channel analyst Lanny Wadkins expressed his surprise on the telecast that it was Pavin who got a shot added to his score.

"Of all the things to happen with all the times I have played - I can't even count the number of rounds - I never thought Corey Pavin was a slow player," Wadkins said. "All the guys we know are slow players have never been penalized out here. Where has this been for the last 15 years?"

The subject of the penalty also raised an eyebrow from Stephen Ames, who finished alongside Pavin in 15th place while Langer finished second behind Woody Austin:

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Azinger 'lobbied' to captain Ryder Cup team a second time

By Rex HoggardOctober 22, 2018, 1:47 pm

In 2008, Paul Azinger became the first U.S. Ryder Cup captain in nearly a decade to lead a team to victory, doing so at Valhalla with his innovative “pod” system and a player-driven approach to leadership.

In the wake of that victory there were many, including the vast majority of his players, who said Azinger deserved a second chance to captain, but at the time the 12-time PGA Tour winner appeared to be undecided and the PGA of America named Corey Pavin the 2010 captain.

On Monday, Azinger was named NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst starting next year and among many revelations during an extended interview on “Morning Drive” he explained how much he wanted a second chance to captain.

“I wanted to do it again, I lobbied to do it again after we won in ’08, but I think I waited a little too long and they had already made a decision,” Azinger said. “The excuse I got was that there are more captains than there are Ryder Cups and I thought that was fair, but then they asked [Tom] Watson to do it again shortly afterward and I was like, ‘What, huh?’”

Watson was named captain of the 2014 U.S. team, which lost by five points and led to the creation of the Ryder Cup task force, which adopted many of Azinger’s ideas including his use of four-player pods.

It’s even more curious that Azinger was never given a second chance considering that Davis Love III was also named a captain twice, first in 2012 and again in ’16.

“I didn’t do it again, I didn’t carry the flag to Europe in 2010, which is fine, and now I’m never going to get to do it again,” he said.

As for who may be named the next U.S. captain after another loss to the Europeans last month in France Azinger could only speculate. “Looks like Wisconsin [site of the 2020 matches at Whistling Straits] and Steve Stricker are going to be a perfect match,” he said.