13 and COUNTING: Tiger Woods won his second straight PGA Championship, his fourth overall PGA title, and his 13th career major, by beating Woody Austin by two strokes Sunday at Southern Hills. Woods is now just five professional majors shy of Jack Nicklaus' all-time record of 18.
So much for the theory that Southern Hills didn't suit Tiger's game. With the 2008 Masters at Augusta (where he's won four times), the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines (where he's won five Buick Invit. titles), and the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale (where he finished 3rd in 1998), Woods has a great chance to already have the 'Tiger Slam' under his belt and the Grand Slam in his sights at next year's PGA at Oakland Hills.
CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR: A couple of times Sunday, Woods was pressed for a challenge. But each time, he made a clutch birdie -- first at No. 8 and then again at No. 15 -- to pull away. Once again, however, that challenge did not come from Tiger's final-round playing competitior as Stephen Ames shot 6-over 76 to finish 10 back.
Kudos to Woody Austin and Ernie Els. Both men held their own in the final round, and had it not been Tiger Woods in front of them then either one might well have the Wanamaker Trophy in their possession right now. On the other hand, Ames must be at a total loss. If he's critical of Tiger, Tiger kills him. If he's complementary of Tiger, Tiger kills him.
MR. PRESIDENTS: Austin's finish wasn't good enough to win, but it did vault him from 17th to 10th in the Presidents Cup standings, giving him a spot on the American team which will compete against the Internationals in Montreal in late September.
While the future of U.S. team golf wouldn't seem to benefit from having a 43-year-old first-time team member, it will be quite interesting to see what kind of influence Woody has. He's emotional, pretty confident at the moment, and a complete wild card in most every way. Wonder if captain Jack will go with the Tabasco golf shirt look?
A CLUB WITH NO MEMBERS: Woods pulled away from the field Friday, thanks to a major championship record-tying 63. His round included only 24 putts. Were it not for a vicious lipout on the final hole, that 63 would have been a 62 - something no man has ever shot in a major.
It's hard to believe that Tiger's ball didn't fall on 18 Friday. It's even harder to believe that no man has EVER shot 62 in a major championship. With Tiger, however, you have a feeling it's just a matter of time before he owns that record, too. While no man has ever shot 62 in a major, one woman has. The oft-overlooked Minea Blomqvist of Finland shot 62 (10 under) in the third round of the 2004 Women's British Open at Sunningdale.
THE DALY NEWS: John Daly grabbed the early headlines Thursday with a solid, opening-round 67 that put him second on the leaderboard behind little-known Graeme Storm. The wildly popular Daly could not, however, sustain his mojo, following it with back-to-back 73s.
In his now infamous response to how he prepared for the event at Southern Hills, Daly said he spent the early part of the week pulling on the arms of slot machines at a nearby casino and not pulling out clubs on the range. He did finish in a respectable tie for 32nd. And perhaps more impressively, despite a steady diet of cigarettes and diet soda, he didn't keel over in the extreme Tulsa heat.
THE HEAT IS ON!: Speaking of the oppressive heat, the PGA of America knew exactly what they were in for when they decided to hold their big event at Southern Hills in mid-August. During each round of the tournament the local heat index was well over 100 degrees, leaving players, fans and volunteers looking as if they all had taken a dip in the clubouse pool.
Players tried to keep a stiff, albeit sweating, upper lip about the harsh conditions, but did complain about the non-stop efforts of trying to keep their grips dry. Still, all they had to do was swing a golf club every now and again. Imagine being the caddies who were faced with having to lug a 40-pound bag for four (really six or seven) days. If caddies were animals, PETA would have put a stop to it.
ICING ON THE CAKE: In his first major tournament since losing the Open Championship in a playoff, Sergio Garcia was disqualified in the third round for signing an incorrect scorecard. Garcia, who was well out of contention by that point, signed for a four at the par-4 17th when he actually made a five.
So who was to blame this time? Well, certainly playing companion Boo Weekley must accept his fair share for having written down the wrong score. But Sergio? Nah. Couldn't be his fault. The Man isn't keeping Sergio down; the Whole Darn World is against him.
A (NOT SO) PERFECT 10: Angel Cabrera hit his tee shot (1) at the par-3 sixth into an unplayable lie, early in his round on Thursday. He went back to the tee box and hit another shot (3) that went out-of-bounds. From the tee again, he hit his next shot (5) into a greenside pond. After a drop, he chipped (7) onto the green, 30 feet from the pin. His first putt (8) rolled 5 feet past the pin. His comebacker (9) lipped out. He then drained (10) the 2-foot knee-knocker.
Cabrera was even par for the tournament entering the sixth hole, fresh off a birdie at No. 5. Twenty-five minutes later, he was 7 over and any thought of claiming a second major in 2007 was awash. Cabrera shot 81 and missed the cut. Masters champion Zach Johnson missed the cut as well. Open champ Padraig Harrington, who rounded out this Thursday/Friday threesome, finished tied for 42nd.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Jackie Burke, Jr. was honored last week with the PGA of America's Distinguished Service Award for his life-long contributions to the game; Brett Wetterich accepted an invitation to play in this year's Skins Game on Thanksgiving weekend; Catriona Matthew won the Scandiavian TPC; Maria Jose Uribe won the U.S. Women's Amateur, defeating Duke's Amanda Blumenherst, 1-up.
In his Hall of Fame career, Burke, Jr. was the winner of both the 1956 Masters and PGA Championship, and also competed on five winning Ryder Cup teams; Fred Couples, Zach Johnson, Stephen Ames and Wetterich - not exactly like the inaugural line up that featured Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Gary Player; Matthew won, while Annika Sorenstam finished in ninth place, nine back; Uribe is a 17-year-old freshman-to-be at UCLA. She almost seems old by today's standards.