Throughout this week, ESPN.com golf editor Jason Sobel will be live blogging from the PGA Championship, bringing you inside information and analysis from Southern Hills Country Club. Refresh this page often to keep track of all the entries during each round.
Have a question or comment for Sobel? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6:00 p.m.: Nice, tidy, four-hour round. Nice, tidy, four-hour blog.
That'll do it for me. Thanks for the questions and comments. I'll be right back here tomorrow for the coronation, er, final round of the PGA. Talk to you then.
5:58 p.m.: For the second straight day, Tiger's birdie putt on 18 does everything but go into the hole. That's a par for 69 -- or 68½, since he referred to his 63 as a "62½" yesterday -- and Woods owns a three-shot 54-hole lead.
5:56 p.m.: Dan in D.C. gets a free round at the 19th hole for being the e-mailer of the day. One more good question to ponder from him:
- If Tigers holds on to this lead, that will be four PGA titles, equaling his four Masters. Do you think he'll end up with more Wanamaker Trophies than green jackets?
Bob Harig, Ron Sirak and myself were actually posed this question in our Fact or Fiction piece prior to the tournament. I say he wins more PGA titles; Bob and Ron each said he'd win more Masters.
5:51 p.m.: Sorry, I serged earlier when I said Stephen Ames had made par on 18. He just finished his round with a birdie on the final hole, cementing his place in the final pairing with Tiger tomorrow.
Remember what he said about Woods prior to getting waxed 9 and 8 in the first round of last year's Accenture Match Play Championship: "Anything can happen, especially where he's hitting the ball."
Perhaps Ames will amend that statement to: "Nothing can happen but a Tiger victory, especially where he's hitting the ball."
5:43 p.m.: From Dan in D.C.:
- I say it's now just a matter of time before Tiger catches Jack Nicklaus for total victories in majors. Assuming you agree on that thought, how soon do you see that happening? I put the over/under at five years.
Well, if he wins tomorrow, that means Woods will be five away from the record. One per year for the next five years? He's been winning 'em at a greater rate than that, so I think it will happen sooner. Put me down for Tiger getting major No. 18 at the 2011 Masters.
And by the way, I've been on record for a while as saying Tiger wins 24 in his career, passing Jack by six. That would be 12 before he turned 30 and 12 more afterward.
5:36 p.m.: Being in this job, most folks I associate with and discuss golf with on a daily basis are pretty close to the game. And they're watching the majors and paying close attention to events all the time.
So it's interesting to get this perspective from Christopher in Parts Unknown:
- Not boring to me. I'm one of those non-golfer types who raises TV ratings 50 percent when Tiger's in the lead. I was hooked on the guy when he won Pebble Beach by 15 in 2000. Something about watching excellence and grace in any athlete, regardless of the sport, running away from his so-called peers. Go, Tiger! I'll be watching.
Of course, I also wonder how many folks would tune in if any other player -- Woody Austin, Stephen Ames, John Senden or any of the other guys in contention -- was leading by 5 or 6 going into the final day, even if they were exuding the "excellence and grace" it takes to be a champion.
5:27 p.m.: ESPNEWS interview. Back in a few ...
5:19 p.m.: Par for Tiger on 15. Par for Woody on 17. Par for Ames on 18.
If you've watched this entire round without dozing off a few times, you clearly have too much energy.
5:11 p.m.: Tiger Woods makes bogey on 14 -- his first since carding one on the seventh hole yesterday -- and falls to 7-under. The lead is down to three.
5:08 p.m.: Back-to-back birdies for Woody Austin on 15 and 16 moves him into a share of second place with Stephen Ames at 4-under.
If Austin and Woods play in the final pairing together tomorrow, I think they should exchange shirts at the end of the round, like soccer players do after a match. We need to see Tiger holding up the Wanamaker while rocking the Tabasco duds.
5:02 p.m.: From Michael in Parts Unknown:
- I'm sure the Tiger Fan Club will try having my citizenship revoked for saying this, but the majors are boring when Tiger has a 36-hole lead. As much as it's exciting when (like at Augusta and the Open) Tiger is trying to catch someone on Sunday, it is equally dreadful when he's ahead like this. He's hitting 2-irons off the tee, to middle of the greens, and mostly two-putting. Not denying that he is proving (yet again) how much better he is than the rest of the tour. Just saying it is incredibly boring to watch 36 holes of defensive golf on the weekend.
I was just having a discussion with a few of my colleagues here in the media center about what the TV ratings for tomorrow's final round will be like if Tiger enters the day with a six-shot lead. Obviously, he moves the needle and people want to witness a dominating performance, but it's not all that exciting.
Don't get me wrong; the current strategy he's employing is the perfect way of attacking this course. That doesn't make it fun golf to watch, though.
4:57 p.m.: Woods pars the par-5 13th hole. If you had told me before the round that he would make par on each of the par-5s, I'd have thought he'd be in some trouble. Over the first two rounds, Woods birdied both of the par-5s each day.
4:51 p.m.: From Tiger in Memphis, Tenn.
- A Tiger math question: Does 9 and 8 = PGA Championship on Sunday if he's paired with Ames?
Yeah, like Tiger needed any extra motivation to win this thing. I get the feeling it's not going to matter who he's paired with tomorrow.
What will be interesting, though, is Stephen Ames' post-round comments today when asked about Woods. Ames has a reputation for speaking off the cuff and making joking remarks that are often seen as inflammatory. Not sure there's anything he can say to denounce Tiger right now, but it remains to be seen.
4:39 p.m.: Guess what, folks? Tiger Woods isn't going anywhere. And his lead just got a lot bigger.
Woods drains a 10-footer for birdie on No. 12, while playing partner Scott Verplank makes double. That moves Tiger to 8-under, five clear of Stephen Ames.
And yes, it would be fun to see the two of them, who have some history, in the final pairing tomorrow.
4:26 p.m.: Haven't made fun of Woody Austin's wardrobe in a few minutes. Apologies for the oversight. From Dave in Parts Unknown:
- I've seen the picture on Woody's shirt before, it was on the side of my
neighbor's conversion van in the mid-'80s. And why don't people do that anymore?
If Woody wins this week, I say everyone has to start airbrushing Austin-ish scenes on their vans, cars, golf carts ... whatever you can. And, of course, you have to buy the shirts. Why? Because this may be our last chance to see them. Here's what Woody said yesterday:
- "From what I understand, though, this will be the last year for me. So they are not making these shirts anymore. So everybody can leave me alone, I guess."
Well, if every golf fan buys one Woody Austin-style Tabasco shirt, they can't stop making them, right? Let's make this happen, folks.
And from Matt in Atlanta:
I think it is time to have Woody Austin design the team shirts for the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup. Remember last time the Americans had a hideous shirt to wear as a team?
Jack Nicklaus and Paul Azinger, are you reading this? Shades of 1999 at The Country Club, but like Matt alluded to, they helped bring a victory.
4:23 p.m.: Right on cue, Stephen Ames drains a lengthy birdie putt on 12 to move into sole possession of third place. There we go. Time to see a little movement on this board!
4:16 p.m.: Can we get some action out here, please? Leaderboard check shows Tiger Woods still at 7-under through 10 holes, three shots better than Scott Verplank and five clear of Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Geoff Ogilvy. Of the 20 players on the course right now, none is better than 1-under for the day (Woods, Ernie Els and Adam Scott) and none is worse than 4-over (Niclas Fasth).
Where's the excitement? Everyone accused Augusta National officials of taking the excitement out of the Masters with their course setup, but there were a lot more cheers on that weekend in April than there have been here so far today.
4:12 p.m.: From Nabil in Saipan:
- Tiger's gone 20 holes in a row now without a boogy. What's his personal record for most holes in a row without one? In a major? How about golf's records?
No idea. (Though I'd guess his personal record may have come at Pebble Beach in 2000.) I just like the fact that an over-par score is called a "boogy" in Saipan. I can't wait to play golf there. I'll have an entire round filled with boogies, sexies and septies.
3:55 p.m.: Tiger Woods makes par on No. 9 and completes his front side in a nice, tidy 34. No real drama yet. He's got to be happy with that.
Off to do an interview with ESPNEWS. Back in a few ...
3:46 p.m.: From Steve in Parts Unknown:
- Can you give us your take on Boo Weekley's 5-under 65 today? He was all set for a 64 until he bogeyed 18. His golf is almost getting as good as his quotes.
I can do you one better. I can give you Boo's take:
- Q. I suppose you know as you're playing 18 what birdie there does for you, right, had somebody told you what 63 would have meant and all that since it had been shot yesterday?
BOO WEEKLEY: No, I didn't know.
Q. It would have matched the lowest score ever in a major championship, 63.
BOO WEEKLEY: Really, that would have been nice.
Q. You're kidding me, right, you had no idea?
BOO WEEKLEY: No, I was just trying to make par. You try to make par, look where I ended up (laughter), trying to be safe.
No surprise. This is the same guy who was paired with 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie at the Scottish Open and asked him if he would be playing in Carnoustie and how did he qualify. Let's just say Boo isn't sitting around reading one of Daniel Wexler's hefty books on golf history in the locker room.
Weekley has shown he is a very good ball-striker on these types of tracks, though. And that early 65 sent a warning signal to the leaders -- and maybe Tiger, in particular, if he was paying attention -- that shooting even-par may not shoot you up the leaderboard. there are scores to be had out here and Boo proved it.
3:42 p.m.: A few discrepencies in people's tastes for Woody's threads. From Paul in Parts Unknown:
- Can we all agree that Woody Austin's apparel, not just today, every day, is a throwback to the old school days when golfers wore the ugliest and most eye-catching clothing to draw attention to themselves? That's awesome. Tiger's fashion-sensitive Nike polos are fine if you're the greatest golfer ever (until the shirt and pants get
soaked with nasty sweat, like today), but if you're back in the pack, you've got to do something special. Woody is an eyesore of the the highest order. Can we get back to some old school plaid and chartruse please?
Not sure I'm buying that. If anyone is a throwback to the days of Doug Sanders, it's guys like Darren Clarke and Ian Poulter, who wear the plaid and chartruse with a little flair and style.
From Greg in Utah:
- Hey, Woody Austin, 1982 called. It wants its golf shirt back.
3:37 p.m.: From Mike in Little Rock, Ark.:
- Why does everyone give Woody Austin a tough time about his wardrobe? I think he dresses like a million bucks.
True, "The Duffy" can give Woody a run for his money on any given day, but I'd say Austin dresses more like $12.99 than a million bucks.
Today's number? A simple yellow-mountain-sunset deal that's positively ravishing. In any case, it's working for him. Austin saves par with a nice putt on No. 9 to remain at 3-under, four shots behind Woods.
3:25 p.m.: Bill Moore, Executive Director of the New York State Golf Association e-mails with his take on the "signing an incorrect scorecard" rule:
- I think you are ove-simplifying the rule regarding signing your scorecard correctly. I agree that there was no intention of cheating in this case, but where does the PGA draw the line? Should he be allowed to fix it if they get him just outside the scoring trailer? The parking lot? His hotel room?
After five hours of work, I don't think (and I am sure the USGA and R&A agree) that taking three minutes to get your scorecard right is too much to ask. I would also be shocked if the walking scorer and both caddies weren't in there with Garcia and Weekley ... and none of them saw this error? The players aren't even on the hook for the addition for crying out loud. They just have to get the hole-by-hole scores correct!!!
All solid points, Bill. And I agree that a line must be drawn. I think that if a player is still on the course premises and the mistake is found, then he should be able to return to the scoring trailer and make amends. Just seems silly to be disqualified from a golf tournament for a simple error in addition (counting up the total number of strokes on a hole, not for the entire round).
3:21 p.m.: Scott Verplank makes bogey on the par-5 fifth hole -- it's a 653-yard hole and he's not a long hitter by any means, but a 6 on the card always hurts -- and Tiger now holds a three-stroke advantage.
Meanwhile, Woods is just going about his business. Four pars and birdie so far. Not sure if he had a number in mind going into the round, but I've got to think he'd be pretty pleased with no-drama 67 or 68.
3:11 p.m.: From Justin in N.Y.:
- Because he was unable to hang on to a Sunday lead at Augusta and Oakmont, do you think that there is any doubt that will now creep into Tiger's head as he prepares to fend off a pretty strong list of contenders this weekend? In the old days, he probably would never have thought twice about his pursuers. But he is only human, and now that he's had a taste of "failure" (probably way too strong a word), does he start to feel even slightly nervous about whether he can get this done, like a normal person would?
In a word: No. Though he certainly hasn't shrugged off the Masters and U.S. Open losses, I doubt the thought of either of those final rounds has even creeped into his head today. Tiger has been in this situation so many times before, that I don't think he'll be adversely affected by those occasions.
And for the record, when was the last time you read the words "failure," "nervous" and "normal" in reference to Tiger Woods?
3:07 p.m.: I just finished posting Bob Harig's take on the Sergio DQ (that's right; the live blogging is only a side job), which is a good read on his recent issues.
3:01 p.m.: Brian in South Carolina is onto something, reminding us of this exchange from earlier in the season:
- I think this might explain Boo's difficulties adding up Sergio's strokes ...
Q. You'll be playing in those tournaments, right, the FedEx Cup stuff?
BOO WEEKLEY: Yes, sir, I hope so.
Q. But you don't know much about the formula or anything?
BOO WEEKLEY: No, sir. I never was good at math (laughter).
2:54 p.m.: Tiger Woods makes birdie on No. 4, regains a two-shot advantage over Scott Verplank, who looks like he's not going away anytime soon.
2:44 p.m.: From Norm in Alabama:
- Ready to come down off that Stewart Cink prediction, Jason?
No way. Cink's at 5-over in a share of 43rd place ... in perfect position to make a move on the leaders. A few birdies coming in, a 59 tomorrow and I think he's got a good shot.
Seriously, though, a few things about the pre-tournament predictions I always make. First of all, trying to prognosticate golf tournaments is a more inexact science than choosing Powerball numbers. I use past results on that week's course and other like it, a player's recent form and speak with many of them to determine who may fare well and who may not, but that doesn't always work, of course.
Secondly, I get killed for my predictions anytime I don't pick Tiger Woods. He's the best golfer ever! Of course he's going to win! And I get killed for my predictions anytime I do pick him. Way to go out on a limb! Thanks for making a tough pick! The thing is, you can pick him every single week and be right about 30-35 percent of the time. But I'd like to think it's a more scientific process than that.
And for those of you who do think I should pick Woods every time? I have six words for you: Zach Johnson. Angel Cabrera. Padraig Harrington.
2:33 p.m.: One serious note on the topic of the incorrect scorecard: This is an absolutely archaic rule. As you'll note in the AP story, "Weekley said he called Garcia back to the scoring tent after the scorecard had been signed, in hopes the mistake could be fixed. But officials said once Garcia had left the area, there was no correcting the problem."
No correcting the problem? Why not? Shouldn't everything in the officials' power be done to ensure that scores are correct and the player not be disqualified? Just because Garcia "had left the area," there was no fixing the situation?
I know the Rules of Golf are stringent and they're in place to prevent certain problems from arising, but the governing bodies of golf (USGA and R&A) should take a good long look at the whole "signing an incorrect scorecard" penalty and see if there can't be more leniency in the rule -- at least on the professional level. This isn't like you knocking it around with your buddies, taking 10 swipes at it, but instead of recording a "sexy" you tell 'em to just put you down for a snowman. The players aren't cheating; there's just a little miscommunication that needed to be sorted out.
2:30 p.m.: One more. Can't help myself. From Derrick in Parts Unknown:
- Maybe with the rest of the weekend off, Sergio can film a couple more commercials, because he sure isn't moving up the money list this week.
It's not his fault he's not moving up on the money list this week. If the PGA paid players for third-round DQs, then he'd make some cash. It's all their fault.
2:25 p.m.: From Dan in D.C.:
- Which do you think Tiger is more likely to accomplish: 62 in a major or a Grand Slam?
I think just based on the fact that he came about a millimeter away from doing the former yesterday, it's gotta be the 62. Any one time occurence has to be easier than winning four consecutive major tournaments -- even if it is something that has never before been accomplished.
2:16 p.m.: CBS just showed the FedEx Cup points of the players on the leaderboard. Tiger Woods has 25,624 points. Scott Verplank has 9,949. John Daly has 935.
If he was a NASCAR driver, he'd still only be 40th in the points standings.
2:11 p.m.: The jokes are starting to pour in. From Cameron in L.A.:
- Go find Sergio. I think he's in the ladies locker room.
In other news, Tiger and Verplank both made par on No. 1.
2:04 p.m.: Big news of the day so far: Sergio Garcia has already "serged" his way out of Southern Hills. (For the derivation of this word, check yesterday's blog.)
I won't recount the whole story -- it's easier if you just click here to read about it -- but it sure sounds like another chapter in the story of how Garcia's petulant behavior has gotten the best of him.
Garcia didn't speak with reporters after the incident, but his playing partner, Boo Weekley, did -- and had some telling comments:
- "It's my fault for putting the wrong score in, but it's his fault for not checking. I just said 'Sergio, I put a 4 but in fact you had a 5.' He said, 'That just puts the icing on the cake.' ... He just took off. I called him back down and tried to get him before he got all the way up the stairs."
Makes me feel not so bad for spending nine straight hours making Sergio jokes yesterday. From Jesse in L.A.:
- Sergio got DQ'd for signing an incorrect scorecard? Clearly they didn't give him the right calculator when he was adding it up. It's almost like he does it on purpose; it's like shooting fish in a barrel.
If Sergio tried to shoot fish in a barrel, he would miss. But it would be the barrel's fault for being too narrow and the fish's fault for swimming too fast.
2:00 p.m.: Tiger Woods and Scott Verplank are just now going live on the first tee and the PGA Championship blog goes live as well. Good afternoon from Southern Hills, where the greatest lingering question is: Are we still watching a golf tournament or simply witnessing another coronation?
As you may have heard, Tiger tied the all-time major championship scoring record with a 63 yesterday, taking a 2-stroke lead over Verplank. Is lucky No. 13 just 36 holes away? It sure seems like it, but remember, entering the final rounds of both the Masters and U.S. Open, with Tiger playing in the last pairing of the day each time, many folks were writing off the rest of the field as contenders. In both situations, an off-the-radar player claimed the victory.
Now, don't read too much into that. Like anyone else with with any sense of golf history and at least one brain cell, if I had to choose a winner right now, at the midway mark, I'm picking Tiger Woods. Duh.
That said, I'm not so sure this is going to turn into a runaway rout by 7-8 shots. If you examine his victories, you'll find many more blowouts in the early part of Tiger's career as opposed to the last few years. Last week's 8-shot thumping at Firestone notwithstanding, Woods seems content lately to simply do whatever it takes to get the trophy, concerning himself more with the victory than the margin of victory. This week could be another of those instances.
Anyway, we'll be talking about Tiger for the next two days, so let's get on with the blog. You know the drill. Hit the link at the top to shoot me questions and comments throughout the round and hit the refresh button every 5-10 minutes to check the newest entry. Here we go ...