Sports Outside the Beltway

Tiger, Ryder and Morgan

With one round to go, Tiger Woods is tied for the lead at the PGA Championship. If he wins, this will be Woods 12th Major Championship. From AP-

MEDINAH, Ill. – The PGA Championship has rarely looked so easy. With Tiger Woods atop the leaderboard, winning the final major of the year could still be as hard as ever.

His final birdie Saturday came on the par-3 17th hole, a 12-foot putt that nearly spun out of the side of the cup. Woods was walking to the hole when he stopped, sighed when it dropped, then pointed his finger at the cup as if reminding his golf ball to behave.

It led to a 7-under 65, matching the course record at Medinah.

And it left him tied at the top with British-born Luke Donald, who knows as well as anyone that Woods is 11-0 when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead in the majors.

“His numbers are obviously impressive and that’s why he’s the best player in the world,” Donald said after his 66. “He knows that just playing his game is going to be good enough, usually.”

But this is a new game for Woods.

The notion of par being a good score in the Grand Slam events was laughable at Medinah, where soft greens have allowed Woods, Donald and everyone else to take dead aim at the flag, forcing them to make birdies simply to stay in the hunt.

Both made their share to finish at 14-under 202, matching the record in relation to par for this major. David Toms led at 14-under 196 when he won the PGA Championship five years ago in Atlanta.

“Most majors … you’re just trying to survive and make pars,” Woods said. “Tomorrow, I think anyone who wants to win this championship has to make some birdies.”

Mike Weir made nine of them and also shot 65, putting him two shots behind at 204. U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy recovered from a double bogey on his first hole to shoot 68 and was at 11-under 205. Another shot behind was Sergio Garcia, runner-up to Woods at Medinah seven years ago, and former PGA champion Shaun Micheel.

Last month at the British Open I thought Tiger’s win streak of winning every major he led going into Sunday was going to end. No such prediction this time, I think Tiger will shoot a 68 and win by three.

Tiger has plenty of challengers. I’d be most concerned about Mike Weir. I just don’t see Woods losing.

Other golf notes

*- If Tiger wins today he’ll become the first golfer to win the PGA Championship twice on the same course. He won the 99 PGA at Medinah also.

CBS announcers acted surprised during yesterday’s broadcast at this feat never happening before. It doesn’t surprise me. The PGA has had a history of playing the championship on mediocre courses as one shot deals. Look at where the PGA was played in the 60′s, Columbine, Pecan Valley, Columbus CC. You probably say what? Some of the PGA’s choices in the late 80′s weren’t very inspired either, Kemper Lakes, Oak Tree and PGA National. Don’t forget Vahalla either, if not for a change of heart by the PGA it would have hosted three PGAs from 96 to 2004. Vahalla is not a championship golf course.

With the exception of the 96 and 00 Championships at Vahalla, all PGAs held at the same course have come at least 6 years(Firestone CC for the 1960 and 1966 PGAs) apart. Most come over 10 years apart.(82 and 94 at Southern Hills) When a major is played at the same course with a gap of over 10 years, the chances are different winners will occur

*- Unlike last year, the golf is likely to end today. CBS for some unknown reason likes to tempt the Gods by having their majors run till dusk. Last year’s PGA had to be finished on Monday morning. I didn’t mind since I was in the hospital recovering from a pulmonary embolism at the time. It gave me something to do besides watch John Wayne movies on AMC. CBS let down millions of other golf viewers with their dumb programming schedule.

This year’s PGA is being played outside of Chicago. The 7 pm EST time finish has a two hour cushion in case of a playoff or weather delays.

*- The finish of the PGA is important to determining who will be on the Ryder Cup team this fall. Lucas Glover, Tim Herron and Davis Love can all make the team if they finish in the top 10.

US Ryder Cup Captain Tom Lehman will make his two Captain’s selections tomorrow morning. I’d pick David Toms and Davis Love.

*- South Florida teenager Morgan Pressel is tied for the lead going into the final round of the LPGA’s Safeway Classic. Its been an up and door year for Morgan. The highly touted(and I may say over publicized) rookie is still seeking her first win on the ladies tour.

I won’t hazard a guess at who will win today. Morgan is in a four way tie for the lead with Jeong Jang, Candie Kung and Jenna Daniels. With stalwarts Hee Won Han and Juli Inkster one back and other fine players like Christina Kim, Mi Hyun ‘Peanut’ Kim, Pat Hurst and a few more within 3 shots, it should be a good finish.

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