Sobel: PGA Championship Live Blog

Throughout this week, ESPN.com golf writer Jason Sobel will be live blogging from the 90th PGA Championship, bringing you inside information and analysis from Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Mich. Refresh this page often to keep track of all the entries in each round. (All times are ET.)

Have a question or comment for Sobel? E-mail him at pgaliveblog@gmail.com.

Round 1 Live Blog
Round 2 Live Blog
Round 3 Live Blog

7:45 p.m.: Nothing left to do but shut down the live blog from the major championships for the year.

This isn't the last of 'em, though. I'll be back with a live blog from the Ryder Cup, plus some semi-live blogs from a few of the FedEx Cup events.

Thanks for reading all week. Until next time, hit 'em straight ...

7:43 p.m.: One of the best things about Harrington winning these past two majors? No one can try to place an asterisk on them, with Tiger Woods not in the field. Since he already won one with Woods in the field last year, he'll never receive any questions like, "Why can't you win a major when Tiger Woods is in the field?"

7:41 p.m.: E-mail from Jason in East Lansing, Mich.:

    Any chance we could see a Paddy Slam next year?

Hey, it's very possible. The way he's won the past two, it'll be hard not to enlist Harrington as one of the favorites at both the Masters and U.S. Open next year.

7:37 p.m.: Ben Curtis for a birdie on 18 and solo second-place finish ... and it stops just barely short of the hole.

Curtis will finish in a share of second place, though.

And yes, that will be good enough to bump Steve Stricker from the Ryder Cup team.

The share of second place gives Curtis 1,320 points, putting him at 3,120.062.That will move him from 20th on the points list to seventh, moving Boo Weekley to eighth (but still on the team) and leaving Stricker on the outside looking in.

7:35 p.m.: Good exchange between Harrington and a young fan as he's signing autographs:

    Fan: "Can I have your glove?"
    Harrington: "Oh, no. I'm holding onto that."

He is, however, out there signing for fans right after winning. Pretty cool gesture.

7:32 p.m.: E-mail from Steven on Long Island:

    When was the last time a major winner didn't come from the last group on Sunday?

That would be last year's British Open, when the winner was ... Padraig Harrington.

7:29 p.m.: Ben Curtis from 211 yards, needs to hole out to tie Harrington ... and it finds the green, but it's not good enough. It's all over. Padraig Harrington wins the PGA!

7:28 p.m.: Others with three career major wins: Payne Stewart, Nick Price, Hale Irwin, Larry Nelson, Billy Casper, Julius Boros, Cary Middlecoff, Jimmy Demaret, Henry Cotton, Ralph Guldahl, Denny Shute, Tommy Armour, Bob Ferguson and Jamie Anderson.

7:25 p.m.: Someone on Wikipedia has already decided that Curtis won't hole out for eagle, as Padraig Harrington has been listed as the 2008 PGA Championship winner.

7:24 p.m.: Barring an all-time unreal shot by Ben Curtis, Padraig Harrington now has won three of the past six major championships and owns as many career major titles as Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh.

7:23 p.m.: It didn't matter -- and maybe the outcome would have been different if it did matter -- but Sergio Garcia misses his par putt on 18. He'll finish the tournament at 1-under.

7:22 p.m.: Sergio Garcia's par attempt is now irrelevant. The only thing standing between Harrington and the Wanamaker Trophy is if Ben Curtis makes a ridiculous eagle on the ultra-tough last hole.

7:21 p.m.: AND HE MAKES IT!

Padraig Harrington holes his par putt -- an incredible par -- and he has won his second straight major championship!


7:20 p.m.: Padraig Harrington will be first up on 18. If he makes it for par, this thing is all but over.

7:17 p.m.: Ben Curtis with a 25-footer for par on 17 ... and it misses by inches on the right side. That's a bogey for Curtis, dropping him to 1-under.

Is he out of it if Harrington can't convert his par on 18? Well, no ... but there's only been one birdie on 18 all day -- and that was from Steve Flesch, who dunked a bunker shot from some 120 yards away.

7:16 p.m.: Considering there's a chance he couldn't even see the flagstick from where his ball was in the bunker, that's a pretty good shot for Sergio Garcia, who will have about 10 feet left for par.

7:14 p.m.: Padraig Harrington slashes one out of the rough ... and it lands pin-high, about 20 feet away. He'll have that for par. If he makes, he's very likely the next PGA champion.

7:12 p.m.: Sergio Garcia just took off running for the porta-potty. While one of my colleagues just suggested that you can't go to the bathroom on the 72nd hole of a major, I totally disagree. Ever try standing over a crucial putt when you've gotta go? How about one to win the PGA Championship?

Can't fault Garcia for taking off for the toilets.

7:11 p.m.: Laying up out of the bunker, Padraig Harrington leaves his ball way right in the thick stuff. Awful mistake.

7:09 p.m.: With the ball well above his feet, Sergio Garcia makes great contact, but finds the left greenside bunker. Can he get up and down from there?

7:08 p.m.: Ben Curtis with his tee shot on 17 ... and it bounds through the green and looks like he has a gnarly lie in the rough just behind the green.

7:06 p.m.: E-mail from Zach in Tennessee:

    This final round has been way more entertaining than any event I've seen this year, including Tiger's busted knee U.S. Open final round. Bring on the arguments.

OK, I'll argue that forever. This is fun, exciting, thrilling, dramatic ... and doesn't come close to what we saw at Torrey Pines. Sorry, it just doesn't.

7:04 p.m.: Hitting driver on 18, Sergio Garcia goes in the same direction as Padraig Harrington, but stays out of the bunker. Not sure if being in the rough there is any better, though.

7:03 p.m.: Ben Curtis with a loooong birdie putt on 16 ... good lag. Should be able to knock it in for par to stay at 2-under.

7:02 p.m.: It's not the Barry Burn, but Padraig Harrington finds a right fairway bunker. And it's an awful lie. Might just have to pitch out from there.

7:01 p.m.: Shades of Carnoustie? Padraig Harrington is going with a driver on 18 ...

6:59 p.m.: Garcia misses! The birdie effort lips out and Padraig Harrington is now in sole possession of the lead at 3-under, one in front of Garcia and Curtis.

6:58 p.m.: Padraig Harrington makes his birdie putt! He moves to 3-under. Pressure is on Sergio Garcia now to make his putt and remain tied for the lead.

6:57 p.m.: After being forced to take a drop, Ben Curtis hits his third shot onto the left side of the 16th green. Long par putt left, but he'd love to take a 2-putt and walk.

6:53 p.m.: Anything you can do, I can do better!

Padraig Harrington knocks his tee shot on 17 to about 10 feet, Sergio Garcia follows by hitting his to about five feet inside of that. Two unreal shots, especially in such a high-pressure situation.

6:50 p.m.: Ryder Cup update: Steve Stricker shot 69 to finish -- for now -- in a share of 39th place. If he remains there (others are still on the course, right around him on the leaderboard), he'll receive 60.4 points, giving him 2,663.571.

If Curtis shares third place with one other player (pessimistic, I know), he'll earn 870 points, giving him 2,670.062.

If he shares it with two other players, he's not automatically qualified.

6:48 p.m.: Shades of Phil Mickelson at Winged Foot (and a few other places)?

Ben Curtis pulls his drive on 16 so far left that he's in the corporate tents. Not sure if that's O.B. or not.

6:46 p.m.: After hitting his bunker shot 15 feet past the hole, Padraig Harrington sinks a huge right-to-left breaking putt.

If -- when? -- Garcia knocks in his bogey bid, we're going to have a three-way tie for the lead at 2-under.

6:43 p.m.: Ben Curtis' par attempt on 15 from about 15 feet ... hits a spike mark and stays out of the hole.

That's a bogey for Curtis. Drops him to 2-under, but it will at least keep him in a share of the lead, because of Garcia's mishap.

6:41 p.m.: Sergio Garcia is forced to drop in the drop area, about 51 yards from the flagstick ...

And he spins one to about 5 feet. Can still save bogey from there. Good job minimizing the damage -- if he makes the putt.

6:38 p.m.: After watching Garcia go too far right, Padraig Harrington pulls his shot into the greenside bunker. Not positive, but looks like a pretty tough lie from there, too. Might be right against the lip.

6:36 p.m.: Oh, no! Apparently going for the flagstick with his second shot on 16, Sergio Garcia pushes his approach into the water hazard!

He has been almost totally mistake-free for 15 holes, but that's a huge one. Will be interesting to see from where he can drop.

6:34 p.m.: Curtis hits a low running hook down the fairway. He'll have something like 50 yards in. Needs to get up and down for par.

6:30 p.m.: Ben Curtis follows his birdie with a drive that goes a little left on 15 and sits down with what seems like a buried lie in the rough.

6:26 p.m.: Well, I don't think Ben Curtis is worried about a share of third place right now. He just drained a birdie putt on 14 to once again tie for the lead. Will it last?

Yes. Sergio Garcia misses his birdie attempt after hitting the stick. We've got those two at 3-under, with Padraig Harrington, who also missed his birdie putt, at 2-under, 1 shot back.

6:22 p.m.: Again, I'm not a math guy, but if Steve Stricker finishes where he is right now (T-39), then Ben Curtis can pass him on the Ryder Cup list if he finishes solo third or better.

If Curtis finishes in a share of third place, though, I have this thing being as close as two or three points (out of a few thousand for each player) either way.

6:17 p.m.: WOW!

Sergio Garcia hits the stick with his second shot on No. 15! Unlike the playoff hole at Carnoustie, when one of his tee shots hit the stick and didn't stay anywhere near the hole, this one stayed about 10 feet away. Good look at birdie from there.

Padraig Harrington has a pretty great counter of his own. Didn't come close to hitting the stick, but he'll have a 12-footer for birdie.

6:13 p.m.: Along the same lines as Oskar's e-mail from a few minutes ago, Rob in Erie, Pa., asks the following:

    If Sergio wins, will he be Player of the Year? A major and the Players isn't too bad of a resume. It will also be a nice test of whether the players consider the Players Championship the "fifth major."

Honestly, I have no idea. Remember, Tiger's win at the U.S. Open wasn't just a win; it was a career-defining moment.

Also, since players vote on the POY award, it may tell us more about their true feelings for Garcia than their feelings about the Players Championship.

6:11 p.m.: Garcia rolls a lengthy birdie attempt past the hole on 14; he settles for par. Harrington misses a fairly short par effort and Garcia now owns a 1-shot lead once again.

Meanwhile, Ben Curtis makes par on 13 to remain one back, as well.

6:07 p.m.: From the PGA of America:

    "In the event of a tie after completion of 72 holes, there will be a three-hole aggregate playoff today over holes 16, 17 and 18. Should the players remain tied after the three holes, a sudden-death format will be implemented, with holes 18 and 10 used alternately until the 90th PGA champion is determined."

Of course, this wouldn't be the first time that Garcia and Harrington -- if it is indeed them -- go to a playoff. It would mark the second such time in the past six majors.

Oh, and if it happens, well, they might have to play a lot faster than they are now to finish it up.

6:05 p.m.: E-mail from Oskar in Parts Unknown:

    Forget the World Ranking. Will Harrington win the Player of the Year award if he wins?

Yeah, I think he will. Very much like 10 years ago, when David Duval won four times and led the money list, but Mark O'Meara won the Masters and British Open -- and the POY award.

6:03 p.m.: Padraig Harrington, now in a share of the lead with Sergio Garcia following his birdie at the 13th, hits his second shot on 14 right at the pin ... only to have it bounce and roll all the way down the slope past the green. Gonna be a tough up and down from there.

6:01 p.m.: E-mail from Pat in Charlotte, N.C., obviously sent before that last birdie:

    The Lions blue is taking its toll on Curtis. I heard he took four wide receivers in the first four rounds of his fantasy draft. I hope Matt Millen shares some of the blame.

That one made me laugh.

5:58 p.m.: Ben Curtis drains his short birdie putt on 12 and he's back to within 1 of Sergio Garcia. Important bounce-back for Curtis, who was on a bad little stretch there.

5:56 p.m.: Henrik Stenson slides his par attempt by the hole on the par-5 12th hole. That's not good. He's back to even par. Only three left in red numbers.

5:47 p.m.: E-mail from Aaron in Toledo, Ohio:

    If Padraig Harrington wins, does he pass Phil Mickelson as the No. 2 player in the world?

C'mon, man. I just had enough trouble trying to add Ryder Cup points; I don't have the advanced mathematics degree required to figure out the Official World Golf Ranking.

Right now, Mickelson has 9.64 average points and Harrington has 6.25. Can't even begin to explain to you how it works, but I'm guessing a Harrington win, coupled with Mickelson's somewhat solid result (he's T-10 right now), will still leave him a little short. But that's just a guess.

5:43 p.m.: This Padraig Harrington guy is pretty good when he comes to the back nine on a major championship Sunday.

He makes birdie on 12, while Sergio's little flip wedge didn't work out so well and he settled for par. Harrington is now 2-under, one shot behind Sergio.

5:39 p.m.: Just doing some quick math -- which is always a bad idea -- and it looks like Curtis is playing for a Ryder Cup spot.

If he wins or comes in second, he's on the team. After that, it's anyone's guess. All depends on how Boo Weekley and Steve Stricker fare. Weekley is currently in a share of 23rd place, which would pay somewhere around $70,000, giving him about 140 points. That would move him somewhere into the neighborhood of 2,750 overall points. Meanwhile, Stricker is in a share of 33rd place, which would pay around $40,000. That would add 80 points to his total, giving him 2,680 or so.

If Curtis comes in solo third, earning $510,000 and 1,020 points, it would give him 2,820 overall. If he finished in fourth, however, it would pay $360,000 and net 720 points, giving him 2,520 overall, leaving him short of an automatic spot.

So like I said, very, very close right now. A lot depends on how Weekley and Stricker finish up.

5:37 p.m.: Uh-oh. Wheels are coming off for Ben Curtis. After leaving his second shot behind a greenside tree and chipping on, he misses the 15-foot par putt to make his third bogey in the last four holes. He drops to 1-under, tied for second with Harrington and Stenson.

5:33 p.m.: Padraig Harrington airmails the green on 12 with his second shot. Sergio Garcia lays up to the fairway, simple flip wedge from there.

Just noted on the telecast that this group is on the clock. Not sure about the final group.

5:28 p.m.: Employing the old Tiger Woods strategy, Garcia hits one so far left on 12 -- behind the gallery members -- that he actually has a decent lie and a good angle into the green. Very much like the sixth hole.

5:22 p.m.: Par. Par. Par. Par.

Curtis and Stenson each make par on the 10th; Garcia and Harrington follow with pars on the 11th.

No blood.

5:18 p.m.: Some good research out there by the readers. E-mail from Richard in Texas:

    Last time two majors were won by Europeans in the same calendar year: 1999 (Jose Maria Olazabal, Masters; Paul Lawrie, British).

    Last time Americans won one or fewer majors in the same calendar year: 1994 (Jose Maria Olazabal, Masters; Ernie Els, U.S. Open; Nick Price, British, PGA).

    1994 was also the only time three different non-Americans won majors in the same calendar year.

And from Matt in Atlanta:

    Considering the top four, it may be time for a European-born PGA champion.

Hasn't happened since 1930, when Scottish-born Tommy Armour won this event. Of course, by the time he won, he was already a U.S. citizen.

5:11 p.m.: There's a rumor here in the media center that Charlie Wi may have teed off in front of the teeing ground in the eighth hole. And no, he didn't take a penalty or hit again. If it's true -- and I don't know if it is -- it's bad news for Wi:

From the USGA:

    11-4. Playing from Outside Teeing Ground

    b. Stroke Play

    If a competitor, when starting a hole, plays a ball from outside the teeing ground, he incurs a penalty of two strokes and must then play a ball from within the teeing ground.

    If the competitor makes a stroke from the next teeing ground without first correcting his mistake or, in the case of the last hole of the round, leaves the putting green without first declaring his intention to correct his mistake, he is disqualified.

    The stroke from outside the teeing ground and any subsequent strokes by the competitor on the hole prior to his correction of the mistake do not count in his score.

If I hear anything more, I'll let you know.

Wi is currently 3-over for the tournament through 10 holes.

5:09 p.m.: Well, it's cold enough and it's rained enough this week to feel like a British Open, so perhaps it's no surprise that the top four players on the leaderboard are a former British Open champion and three of the most talented Europeans around (including one with two Open titles himself).

5:05 p.m.: Could we have a back-to-back major champion? Padraig Harrington makes it a quartet in red numbers, as he birdies the 10th to move to 1-under, two behind Garcia.

5:03 p.m.: E-mail from Mike in Arlington, Va.:

    Curtis, Stenson and Holmes are on pace for roughly a 6-hour round. Given the weather and situation, are the rules officials being generous with putting groups on the clock today?

Well, they're not that slow; the group is on pace for a 5-hour, 40-minute round. Still pretty bad, though. The first hole alone took them 21 minutes to complete.

Haven't heard whether they're on the clock, but I tend to doubt it.

5:01 p.m.: Whether it's the Blog Jinx, the curse of the Lions or simply Ben Curtis coming back to earth, he just hit his tee shot on No. 9 into the greenside bunker and couldn't get up and down. He makes his second straight bogey.

With the final group heading to the back nine, Sergio Garcia is in sole possession of the lead at the PGA Championship.

4:56 p.m.: Getting a lot of questions from people asking why Ben Curtis is wearing a Detroit Lions hat (he's from Ohio and is a Cleveland Browns fan). It's part of his Reebok deal. To answer any other questions you may have, here's a recent e-mail exchange I had with my buddy Tom, who grew up in Michigan and is a Lions fan:

    Tom: You should be blogging about Ben Curtis' terrible decision to wear Lions gear on a final round of a major when he blows this.

    Me: Already did, man.

    Tom: Nice, one of the worst decisions in recent major championship memory. He might as well be wearing an MSU hat.

    Me: Has to do it. He's under contract.

    Tom: But he's not under contract to wear Lions right? Couldn't he wear like the Pats for the final round or something?

    Me: Nope, has to wear the gear of the nearest NFL team.

    Tom: Ouch, tough break for him.

The only time I've seen Curtis deviate from this is when he mixed and matched a Steelers hat with a Browns shirt (and vice versa) during last year's U.S. Open at Oakmont.

4:49 p.m.: Since when did Ben Crenshaw inhabit the body of Sergio Garcia?

Garcia makes another 10-footer to save par, which turns out to be huge, because ...

Ben Curtis finally got burned. He wasn't going to make those par savers all day, and Curtis finally missed one on No. 8. Back to co-leaders, with Curtis and Garcia at 3-under.

4:46 p.m.: After having a buried lie in the bunker, Henrik Stenson misses his downhill par attempt on No. 8. He'll tap in for bogey to fall to 1-under.

4:44 p.m.: E-mail from Marc in Trumbull, Conn.:

    So what's the protocol when a tour player aces a hole? Surely he doesn't go in and buy everyone loitering at the bar a drink, right?

Actually, he has to buy one for every person in the media center. And yes, I'll be rooting for many more aces.

4:40 p.m.: And that'll wrap up Phil Mickelson's title hopes.

Lefty makes bogey on No. 11 to move to 3-over. At seven behind Ben Curtis, he's done.

4:38 p.m.: E-mail from Aaron in Toledo, Ohio:

    Which is higher: The winner's final round score or the temperature at the end of the tournament?

Not even close. If you took the winner's score, I could give you five shots and still win this bet.

It's currently 64 degrees out and -- guess what? -- it ain't getting any warmer.

4:35 p.m.: Doing his best Joey Harrington impersonation, Fredrik Jacobson makes a hole-in-one on No. 13 to get to 6-over for the tournament. That's the 37th ace in PGA Championship history since 1970.

4:33 p.m.: Doing his best Ben Curtis impersonation, Sergio Garcia gets up and down from the bunker on No. 8, sinking a downhill 10-footer to save par.

Is this really the same guy who has struggled so mightily with his putter over the past five years?

4:31 p.m.: Could we see an Ocho Ocho in the final group? Maybe. J.B. Holmes is currently 7-over through seven holes in the round. Ouch.

4:29 p.m.: Apparently immune to getting burned by leaving himself decent-sized par putts, Ben Curtis rolls home another one on No. 7 to remain at 4-under.

4:24 p.m.: I don't care what the scorecard says, the eighth hole is a par-4½. (Just like the sixth is a par-3½.) For the final round, No. 8 is the second-hardest hole, averaging 4.567 strokes. Only 18 is playing tougher, at 4.667.

One other way to tell it's not a true par-4? If Sergio Garcia is hitting a 3-wood from some 230 yards into a green, it's not quite a par-4.

I know I've given my opinion on how par is an antiquated notion (it's good for keeping score during a live event and for figuring handicaps -- and that's about it). Well, think about it this way: If the PGA of America would have made the eighth and 18th holes par-5s instead of par-4s this week -- making the course a par-72 -- and had left everything else the same, many of the people grousing about the lack of low scores wouldn't have a leg to stand on, as the winning score would wind up being around 10- or 12-under.

4:20 p.m.: E-mail from Gary in Atlanta:

    I believe Henrik Stenson's caddy, Fanny Sunesson, is second on the active list of major wins by a caddie, after Steve Williams' 12 majors with Tiger. I believe Fluff Cowan only had two with Tiger before caddying for Jim Furyk's U.S. Open win in 2003 (three total). Can you think of another active caddie with more major wins?

Well, first of all, Sunesson wasn't on the bag for all six of Nick Faldo's major wins. Not sure how many she looped for him, but I'm told she at least wasn't there for the first one.

Secondly, it's difficult to define an "active" caddie. Basically, if a guy isn't dead, he probably still considers himself "active," even if he's not currently working for a certain player.

4:16 p.m.: E-mail from Siddharth in Bangalore, India:

    It's well past midnight here, but I am staying up to see whether Jeev Milkha Singh can make history. What do you think of his chances?

Singh is 1-under for the round through seven holes, 1-over for the tournament. That puts him in a share of fifth place, five shots behind Curtis. He's still got a chance, but he's got to make some red numbers and hope Curtis, Garcia, Stenson and Harrington falter a bit at some point -- maybe on the eighth and ninth holes.

4:10 p.m.: Trying to answer Ben Curtis' birdie, Sergio Garcia comes thisclose to carding the first red number of the round on No. 7, but the putt stays out.

He's giving himself a great chance for birdie on every single hole.

4:05 p.m.: That co-lead held up for all of 13 minutes or so. Ben Curtis makes birdie on the sixth and he's back in sole possession of the lead at 4-under.

Curtis, Garcia (3-under) and Stenson (2-under) are the only players under par. They're four shots clear of Padraig Harrington and five clear of everyone else.

Can we count out everyone but those four players? I don't think so, but someone has to make a move if they want to catch them. Not all four players are going to come back to the pack.

4:03 p.m.: Blog Jinx?

Not exactly. Henrik Stenson lips out his eagle bid on No. 6 -- he'll make birdie to move to 2-under, one behind the leaders.

3:59 p.m.: Haven't said much about Henrik Stenson recently, but after his bogey-birdie start, he's made three straight pars and is just hanging around, at two behind the leaders.

3:55 p.m.: Aaron Baddeley is currently 1-under for his round and 2-over for the tournament. At least one person is going to be sweating this out until the end. From British bookmaker Ladbrokes:

    A Ladbrokes customer will win £1 million if Aaron Baddeley claims the PGA Championship.
    The telephone client staked £10,000 on the 100/1 chance Thursday morning ahead of the fourth major at Oakland Hills.
    The Aussie is now quoted at 66/1 for the title.
    Ladbrokes spokesman Nick Weinberg, said: "I'm not sure who'll be happier if Baddeley does the business, the player or our punter. If he tops the leaderboard we will have done very Bad-deley indeed."

Ha. Gotta love that British sense of humor -- er, humour.

You know you're putting down some decent quid when you can single-handedly move the line from 100/1 to 66/1.

For the math deficient, the customer will earn £1 million if Baddeley wins -- or roughly $2 million.

3:52 p.m.: Sergio Garcia converts his birdie attempt on the sixth hole after that awful drive. We now have co-leaders, with Curtis and Garcia both at 3-under.

3:50 p.m.: Phil Mickelson makes bogey on No. 8, drops to 2-over.

3:49 p.m.: Continuing to play with fire, Ben Curtis saves par on the fifth hole. Still up one ... for now.

3:46 p.m.: Told you that was a good angle for Sergio. He's got about 6 feet left for birdie, as does Harrington.

By the way, we've talked a lot about the U.S. Ryder Cup candidates, but Sergio Garcia wasn't on the European team (somehow) entering this week. This will no doubt put him on the squad. Perhaps more importantly, it will open up another spot for a captain's pick for Nick Faldo, with Garcia's move perhaps opening the door for Colin Montgomerie, if not Paul Casey and Ian Poulter.

3:42 p.m.: Throughout the week, we've discussed how difficult the course's final three holes have played. But as the relevant players on the leaderboard come to the final three holes on the front nine, know this fact: Holes 7, 8 and 9 have yet to yield a birdie so far in the final round.

3:39 p.m.: So much for Sergio Garcia's great ball-striking day. He blows one way right on No. 6, but gets lucky and actually won't have a bad angle from where he is.

So much for bad karma from the Golf Gods.

3:35 p.m.: Sergio Garcia for a share of the lead on No. 5 ... nope, stops about a foot short of the hole. He settles for par, remains one behind Curtis.

Interesting fact about Garcia: He always watches the leaderboard. Some guys -- like Padraig Harrington, for example -- would rather not know where they stand, but Sergio has stated that he always keeps an eye on the board. So you'd better believe he knows where he is right now.

3:28 p.m.: I was just handed a sheet that says this week's $1.35 million first-place prize is the equivalent of 867,219.26 Euros, 6,468,655.89 Danish kroner, 8,205,303.03 Swedish krone and 9,803,038.92 South African rand.

You know, in case you were wondering ...

3:26 p.m.: With a chance to grab a two-shot lead, Ben Curtis runs his birdie putt past on No. 4, settles for par.

3:22 p.m.: Can't help but think that this could be one of those majors where we look back at the champion afterward and say, "We never even mentioned that guy's name for the first few hours!"

So just for the heck of it ...

Andres Romero.

Jeev Milkha Singh.

Aaron Baddeley.

Camilo Villegas.

Prayad Marksaeng.

There -- I feel better now.

3:12 p.m.: How are scoring conditions right now? Great. Every player in the top 13 is under par for the round, except Henrik Stenson, Aaron Baddeley and David Toms, who are each at even par.

Well, they're great for everyone not named J.B. Holmes, who has now started triple-bogey-bogey to go 5-over through three holes. Been there, buddy. Many, many times.

3:09 p.m.: Great save by Ben Curtis, getting up and down on the third hole to remain at 3-under. But he can only play with fire for so long before he gets burned ...

3:08 p.m.: Phil Mickelson is the best short-game player in the world ... but you wouldn't know it from his shot out of the rough on No. 6, about 30 yards from the green. Phil chunks it and finds the greenside bunker. From there, he knocks it close, still makes par.

3:06 p.m.: Let's not count out Charlie Wi. The 36-year-old is playing in his first career major, but this is a guy who has won on tours all over the world and isn't a stranger to being on a leaderboard (though just not at a tourney this big).

Great shot into the fourth hole puts him in kick-in birdie range. He'll go to 1-under.

3:03 p.m.: E-mail from Billy in Little Rock, Ark.:

    Huge par save by Phil. Can't you just feel a Sergio vs. Phil showdown on the back nine?

You're right. Big-time putt for Lefty on No. 6. Not so sure about the showdown, though. They'll both be in the mix, but so will a bunch of other guys.

3:01 p.m.: Sergio Garcia pipes one on No. 4. Perhaps more importantly, we can officially take him off the list of worst dressers on the PGA Tour. I know this is the same guy who dressed like Tweety Bird at Hoylake and a Burger King employee at Carnoustie, but with the classic all-black Gary Player thing going on today, he's really improved his sartorial decisions in the past year.

2:56 p.m.: Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington and Charlie Wi all miss their birdie attempts on No. 3, then go good-good-good for par and head for the next hole.

Ben Curtis can't capitalize on the par-5 second, making par, while Henrik Stenson birdies to get back to 1-under. J.B. Holmes, meanwhile, may have shot himself out of it already. A big hitter who destroys par-5s, he made bogey to fall to 3-over.

2:51 p.m.: E-mail from Aaron in Toledo:

    If Sergio wins, does he thank Tiger again?

Why not? That's what he did after winning the Players Championship.

That leads to this e-mail from Andy in Boston:

    If Sergio prevails today and finally gets the monkey
    off his back, will his first major victory have an asterisk next to it
    because of Tiger's absence?

No way. Not in my eyes, at least. And anyone who wants to call out Garcia for only winning big events when Woods isn't in the field doesn't really understand how golf works. Reminds me of this quote from before the AT&T National a little over a month ago, one of my favorites of the year from Paul Goydos:

    "I think Tiger is bigger than the game itself right now so if Tiger is playing in the event, media coverage is going to be bigger and everything is going to be bigger.
    Having said that, the aspects of professional golf are a number of different things, and one of them is that you're healthy.
    So when you start hearing somebody write about maybe these next two majors need an asterisk, well, then we need to put an asterisk next to all 18 of Jack's because Tiger didn't play in any of those.

Makes sense, doesn't it? Personally, I can't stand the asterisk talk.

2:47 p.m.: After a birdie on No. 2, Padraig Harrington is at even-par and finds the green on the par-3 third hole.

Same goes for Sergio Garcia, who will have about a 25-foot birdie attempt.

2:43 p.m.: E-mail from Brian in South Carolina:

    Here comes Sergio! Is it Spain's time again? Euro Cup, Rafael Nadal, Tour de France ...

Right on cue, Garcia cleans up his eagle after a brilliant second shot on No. 2. With a birdie-eagle start, he's now 2-under, one behind Ben Curtis.

What's that I said about the leaderboard not tightening up anymore? It's tight again.

2:41 p.m.: Phil Mickelson could certainly post a number and see if Ben Curtis -- or anyone else -- can maintain a lead around that tough closing stretch. He teed off 40 minutes before the final group.

2:39 p.m.: Birdie for Phil Mickelson on the fourth hole. If not for a missed 5-footer on the opening hole, he'd have a birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie start. Even so, at 1-over, he's just four behind Ben Curtis.

2:33 p.m.: Remember what I wrote earlier about the players Curtis would pass, tie or trail by one if he wins today? Can't believe I forgot this one: If Ben Curtis wins, he'll tie Greg Norman on the all-time major victory list.

2:31 p.m.: Henrik Stenson makes bogey, J.B. Holmes makes triple.

And Ben Curtis is currently the only player under par. At 3-under, he owns a three-shot lead over Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Charlie Wi.

So much for that bunched leaderboard.

2:28 p.m.: Great start for Ben Curtis. While his playing partners were busy hacking it around, Curtis knocks in a left-to-right birdie putt to move to 3-under.

2:24 p.m.: Great approach shot by Ben Curtis on No. 1. He'll have a makeable birdie putt.

Meanwhile, Phil Mickelson just made his second straight birdie to move to 2-over. Hmmm ... maybe he isn't out of it, after all.

2:21 p.m.: E-mail from Ryan in Columbus, Ohio:

    Wouldn't it be poetic justice to see someone from the Harrington family win a championship in Detroit?

Actually, Paddy told a good story about his QB cousin earlier this week:

    Q: I wonder if you've heard at all lately from your cousin, Joey Harrington, and from that same standpoint, I wonder if you're aware that about a month ago he had two holes-in-one, same course, same hole down in Atlanta.
    PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Actually I had him over for dinner in Ireland a couple of weeks ago, actually about six weeks ago he was there. So it's about two and a half months ago that he had the two hole-in-ones. The first question I asked him, "Was it a blind par-3?" And I believe it is. And I at home when you have a blind par-3, often the caddies stick the golf balls in the hole. So I've been teasing him about that.
    He can play the game. And obviously he has a bit of time in his off-season to manage it, and he has been getting out there. But, yeah, it is a remarkable feat to have two hole in ones in quick succession on the same hole. But then again, it is another statistic for the sake of statistics.

Harrington is still at 1-over, with a par on the first hole. Padraig, that is, not Joey.

2:17 p.m.: J.B. Holmes tries to punch out of trees ... and it stays right there. Ouch. Now he's taking a drop and will be hitting four from not too far from the trees again. Wow. Huge blow-up. Explosion. Holmes could be five in back of Curtis when this is all said and done.

2:14 p.m.: Man, Sergio Garcia can putt. The strongman knocks in a 6-footer for birdie at the first to move to even-par overall.

Same goes for Charlie Wi. Tightening up at the top.

2:12 p.m.: Every player is now on the course. Ben Curtis finds the fairway with his opening drive, but playing partners J.B. Holmes and Henrik Stenson -- both bigger hitters but less accurate -- go way left and will have to do well just to make par from where they are.

2:07 p.m.: Just spoke with a PGA of America official. If Ben Curtis or J.B. Holmes wins or finishes in second place, he's automatically on the Ryder Cup. If either finishes in third or fourth place, "it's a toss-up," the official said.

I ran some numbers myself and it looks as if Weekley and Stricker, if they remain where they are, won't reach 2,700 points total. The winner this week earns 2,700. What that means is that some club pro with zero points coming into the week could have won the tournament and earned a spot on the team. (Of course, none of them even made the cut.)

2:01 p.m.: Worth noting: Boo Weekley and Steve Stricker, the last two players in the top eight of the Ryder Cup standings, are currently T-46 and T-56, respectively. Not helping themselves out much. With four U.S. players in the top 12 going into the final round, one or both of these guys could be lapped by the end of the afternoon.

1:57 p.m.: Scores are starting to come in for those who are actually in the hunt. David Toms posts birdie on No. 1 to move to 2-over, four shots off the lead.

In other news, Ian Poulter is 3-under through six, Brandt Snedeker is 2-under through four and Prayad Marksaeng also made birdie on the opening hole.

1:54 p.m.: E-mail from Jim in Clearwater, Fla.:

    If one pound equals .45359237 kilos, then Sergio can bench 1430 pounds.

Uh-huh. Right. So, what's your point? Are you doubting him?

1:48 p.m.: E-mail from Jason in Parts Unknown:

    I have always disliked Ben Curtis since he won the British Open. The reason why is the comments he made after his surprising win. I can't find the exact quote unfortunately, but he mentioned that he belongs in the elite company of the best in the world, because he's got the game to match.
    I couldn't have been happier when he went on to do nothing since. I didn't like his seemingly arrogant attitude. He may actually have one of the better games of the U.S. guys now and he may have a lot more stored up, but I will always root against him.

I assume the quote you are referring to is the following:

    Q: How much of a student of the history of the game are you? And can you immediately place yourself in some of the most unlikely winner majors ever, Jack Fleck, John Daly, etc.? What do those names mean to you and what do you know about your place now?
    BEN CURTIS: I'm one of the few that's had this opportunity to do it in this world. There's so many professional golfers out there that set the dream just to win a major. And I did it my first try and I feel I got a lot of lucky bounces, and some that didn't go so well. The history of the game -- I know quite a bit, but also when I'm away from the golf course there's no golf in my life. I try to keep that away, because I'm around it so much that I just like to be normal and have some fun and do normal things. And that's -- I don't really read a lot about the game, I just -- but I know there's a lot -- I know the names that are on the trophy, obviously, just from watching it and growing up around the game. I'm in great company and I feel like I don't belong right now, but I knew in my mind that I did, but right now many people are probably saying, well, he doesn't really belong there, but I know I do, so that's all that matters.

First of all, that didn't sound arrogant at all. What's he supposed to do -- say he doesn't belong, just minutes after winning the Claret Jug?

Secondly, he was simply answering the question. It's not exactly like he mugged for the camera, made a fist pump and crowed about being the next great player. He was asked if he was an unlikely major winner and he simply gave an answer.

1:45 p.m.: Spy report from K-Mag:

    Wind reaching new levels out here. The standard bearer who's holding the scores walking with the Corey Pavin, Niclas Fasth, Geoff Ogilvy group just lost one the sliding pieces of his board on the 11th fairway. Gonna be fun for the leaders this afternoon!

We say it all the time. Rain? Not a factor for these guys; in fact, they'd rather play in a little rain, because it softens up the course. But wind? That's a pro golfer's worst enemy. If the wind continues this afternoon, it's going to make scoring conditions very difficult, no matter how soft the course is getting.

1:40 p.m.: E-mail from Aaron in Toledo:

    If Ben Curtis wins, the fans in Detroit aren't going to know what to do with themselves, cheering for someone in Lions gear actually winning something.

Seriously, can a guy wearing a Detroit Lions hat really win a major championship? Or, heck, a club championship? Or ... anything?

We could see a similar scenario to the British Open, when Curtis got himself into contention, but couldn't stay there while wearing a New Orleans Saints hat.

Speaking of local teams, Tiger Woods' absence from this event meant that every newspaper in the country had to refrain from those "Detroit Tiger" headlines.

1:33 p.m.: Good stuff from Sergio Garcia talking about how he'll prepare for the final round after playing 17 holes this morning:

    Q: You've played 36 holes around here in a Ryder Cup; is it a little different in a major?
    SERGIO GARCÍA: A little bit, yes. The setup of the course is obviously a little bit different than it was in the Ryder Cup. They give you a little bit more breathing room in the Ryder Cup.
    It's a wonderful golf course, one of the toughest we've played, and I think it's very nicely manicured and they have done a good job with it.

    Q: What's the gameplan this afternoon?
    SERGIO GARCÍA: Same thing, just keep believing myself and give myself a chance. Hopefully get out there and get something going.

    Q: The break in between, how will you spend it?
    SERGIO GARCÍA: Probably go back to the hotel, maybe take a shower and relax a little bit, come back and have something to eat and get ready just like if nothing would have happened this morning. It's a brand new round and we have to be ready for it.

    Q: Will you be able to duplicate your normal routine?
    SERGIO GARCÍA: Yeah, I probably won't hit as many balls or things like that, but yeah, pretty much the same.

Seems like that's the common M.O. from those who are teeing off late -- just pretend like you never played this morning and treat it like a brand new round. That exchange led to this ...

    Q: Playing 36 holes, or 35 in your case, how important is fitness, and how much work do you do?
    SERGIO GARCÍA: Yeah, I do quite a bit. I try to stay fit but not only working out, also playing other sports. That always helps, too. I feel good. I feel comfortable. I feel strong and unfortunately we went to the gym yesterday but it was closed already so we didn't do anything.

    Q: What's the most you've played?
    SERGIO GARCÍA: When I was little, I used to just go. I remember playing 54 holes one day, when I was like probably 10 or 12.
    It's fine. Obviously, it's a little bit more pressure and that's what can tire you a bit more than anything else, and I've just got to stay strong mentally and I'll be fine.

    Q: How much time do you spend in the gym these days?
    SERGIO GARCÍA: Usually probably work out about four days a week and I will probably spend just around two hours, a little bit of cardio and a little bit of weights and all that stuff.

    Q: What's your bench pressing?
    SERGIO GARCÍA: 650 pounds. Sorry, 650 kilos.

Oh, c'mon, Sergio. Stick with pounds. You can put up 650. We believe you.

1:24 p.m.: E-mail from Keith in Fraser, Mich.:

    Did they change the pin placements from this morning to this afternoon?

Yes, they did. Totally new pin placements for Round 4 than Round 3.

1:20 p.m.: E-mail from Ed in Union City, Calif.:

    J.B. Holmes looks like he takes forever to play. Does he take significantly longer than other players or does it just look that way?

He ... really ... is ... that ... s ... l ... o ... w.

Holmes is bordering on Ben Crane territory. The good thing about him being in the final group? At least no one has to wait behind him. The bad thing? If he stays in contention, it could be painful watching him coming down the stretch. As I wrote earlier, I was out on 18 to watch Holmes and Charlie Wi finish their third round. The entire hole must have taken 20-25 minutes to play. And it wasn't Wi's fault.

1:18 p.m.: Gotta wonder whether Rocco Mediate got a little confused and started hitting that trick shot -- the one in which he takes a full swing, has the ball pop up to waist-high, catches it and throws it -- on his first two holes.

1:14 p.m.: Can't really tell yet how the weather is affecting play for the early starters in the final round.

Looks like guys can score ... and, well, they can't, too (if that makes any sense). Steve Elkington is 2-under, going birdie-birdie to start. Meanwhile, Rocco Mediate is 4-over, starting double-double.

1:08 p.m.: As if right on cue, on-course spy K-Mag checks in with a report:

    Man, is it cold out here. There are more sweatshirts and lattes than shorts and cold beers. Just as I'm typing about how ominous the clouds look, it starts sprinkling a little. Everyone heads behind the first green. Why? I'm guessing it isn't to follow Goydos, Thompson and Snedeker to the second tee. It's to get into the ever-growing line at the merchandise tent, which happens to be the only dry land within shouting distance. Let's hope it blows over quick.

Yeah, that's the other thing. It's not 85 degrees and raining; it's about 60-65 and the wind makes it feel even colder.

1:04 p.m.: Blog Jinx!

Well, not more than a few minutes after posting the weather map, I took a quick walk outside and it is indeed raining. Nothing like yesterday -- in fact, "misting" is more like it -- but the sky is grey and the sun has vanished. Let's hope this is the worst of it and they can keep playing through it.

12:55 p.m.: Here is the weather map for the area this afternoon.

If it starts raining in the media center again, I'm going to be grumpier than John Daly at the salad bar.

12:51 p.m.: E-mail from Max in Anoka, Minn.:

    Will there be a 100,000 people at The Monster today because of the rainout yesterday? Free admission for Saturday ticket holders? Perhaps an atmosphere similar to down the road at The Big House in Ann Arbor following several brewskis?

Not unless things severely change in the afternoon. I'll tell you this much: I went out to No. 18 to watch J.B. Holmes and Charlie Wi complete the hole in the final pairing of the third round. I have an armband to get inside the ropes ... and I didn't even use it. There were so few people that I was able to simply stand amongst the gallery members and watch everything that happened.

And that was with nobody else on the course. Once there are other groups out there and the fans spread out more, the galleries will look even thinner.

Not sure what ticket sales were like -- or those who came through the gate each day -- but using the ol' eyeball test, it doesn't seem like a very packed house.

12:44 p.m.: E-mail from Bob in Hancock, Mich.:

    Is there any particular reason or advantage why they send the middle of the field first off both tees, causing the DFLers to tee off last? If I was totally out of contention, I would rather get the round over with instead of being stuck in the middle of it all.

True, but there actually is a method to the madness. The PGA of America doesn't want players at the same place on the leaderboard to have an advantage or disadvantage based on their tee time. So that's why the group of Rory Sabbatini, Sean O'Hair and Mike Weir (8-over, 8-over and 9-over) are teeing off at 12:25 p.m. as opposed to 2:25. The PGA wants them to play under the same conditions as the group of Ian Poulter, John Merrick and Paul Casey, each of whom is at 8-over.

12:38 p.m.: E-mail from Phillip in Parts Unknown:

    Why don't they send groups off the front and back to get this moving along? Will they have enough light to finish today?

Well, to answer your first question, they are. Groups are staggered, going off No. 1 at 12:20, then No. 10 at 12:25, then No. 1 at 12:30, then No. 10 at 12:35 ... and so on.

As for there being enough light to finish, expect five-hour rounds. With no weather delay, that would mean a 7:10 finish, give or take a few minutes. It stays light here a little past 8:30, so there would even be plenty of time for a three-hole aggregate playoff, if needed.

If there's a delay, well, that's a whole different story.

12:34 p.m.: E-mail from Liz in Baltimore:

    Any more monsoons coming today?

Hopefully, no. There's a chance of afternoon showers later on, but if it doesn't also bring lightning, then they'll play right through it. Other than that, it's sunny yet breezy right now, with winds gusting up to 28 mph throughout the day.

12:31 p.m.: E-mail from Josh in Murfreesboro, Tenn.:

    Does Phil Mickelson have any chance at all?

A chance? I suppose, but realistically it doesn't look good for Lefty. After a third-round 71, he's at 4-over. At seven back, I wouldn't say it's impossible to catch the leader, but with a dozen players between him and the lead, it may be too much to overcome.

12:23 p.m.: Since the first group of the afternoon (Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and John Merrick) has just teed off, we've got plenty of time for e-mails. Let's go to the inbox for a little while ...

From Jason in New York:

    What do you think Ben Curtis' chances of getting one of Paul Azinger's captain picks are if he plays well in today's final round? Do you think he has to win to make the team or will a strong performance be good enough?

If he wins, he's in. Same goes for J.B. Holmes, Steve Flesch and David Toms.

As for earning a captain's pick, well, according to Azinger, he wouldn't punish anyone for not playing well here; I'm not sure if that means he'd reward others for playing well, though. Here's what he said yesterday:

    Q: You've got a guy that you were looking at for the team, kind of a hard week here; do you just toss that out?
    PAUL AZINGER: Doesn't mean anything. This isn't the Ryder Cup week. We have three weeks to go. I want a guy who is confident, and if the guy's confidence is shattered when he left here, join the club.

Not sure a strong finish for any of those guys would make them a lock to be a captain's pick, but Azinger has repeatedly said he wants players who are playing well entering September, so it certainly won't hurt matters at all.

12:18 p.m.: My pick to win, if I had to take someone right now? I think I'd go with Sergio Garcia. With rounds of 69-73-69, he has yet to really go low and could be due for a 66 or 67 that could be enough to win it.

That said, I honestly believe you could take the top half-dozen names -- if not the top dozen -- and pick out of a hat. Anything can happen this afternoon.

12:08 p.m.: So, who's the favorite entering the final 18 holes? Gotta be the guy who is just three weeks removed from winning the Claret Jug. Then again, Harrington wasn't exactly optimistic about his chances following his round of 66:

    Q: Sum up the day out there today, please, if you could, and the situation off two rounds.
    PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I just ran out of steam. It was a struggle for me. I did my best to be ready for the week but clearly I'm not. What can I say. The harder I tried the worse it got. I haven't got the focus this week. I'm just not with it. Obviously, I'm still just having a hangover after winning the Open.

    Q: How good was that 66?
    PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Right at this moment, disappointing. Bogeyed the last. ... Little disappointed as I had a good birdie chance on the 17th and chances on 10, 11 and 12. It was a slow start to the second part of my round, but the four birdies in the middle got it going and I holed some putts in that run, which was nice to see happening and get some feeling on the greens.

    Q: Where are you mentally and physically compared to Friday afternoon?
    PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Not anywhere near where I could be. But who knows? Last round of a major, you don't know. I keep approaching every shot hopeful it will click into place.

    Q: You are talking of the adrenaline factor?
    PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Just the whole thing. Still losing my focus at times and I know how I stand and I am not 100 percent. But a couple of things go your way, you don't need to be 100 percent.

Like I said, not quite brimming with confidence, is he?

12:03 p.m.: I've said it a few times already this week, and I'll say it again: Ben Curtis just may be the most underrated golfer in the world.

He was the No. 1-ranked amateur before turning pro. In his first career major, he won the 2003 British Open, though most considered him a fluky winner because the title was basically handed to him. He struggled for a few years, but did win two PGA Tour events in 2006. And he always seems to find his way onto the leaderboard at major championships when the conditions are difficult.

Think about it: If he wins this afternoon, Curtis will own two more major victories than Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott combined, one more than Jim Furyk and David Toms, just as many as Padraig Harrington, and just one less than Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh.

12:00 p.m.: Beautiful day for golf here at Oakland Hills CC. Let's play two.

It took an extra day, but the third round of the 90th PGA Championship is finally in the books. In case you haven't checked a leaderboard yet, here are the top dozen (third-round scores in parenthesis):

1. Ben Curtis: -2 (68)
2. Henrik Stenson: -1 (68)
2. J.B. Holmes: -1 (70)
4. Padraig Harrington: +1 (66)
4. Sergio Garcia: +1 (69)
4. Charlie Wi: +1 (71)
7. Andres Romero: +2 (65)
7. Jeev Milkha Singh: +2 (70)
9. Camilo Villegas: +3 (67)
9. Steve Flesch: +3 (70)
9. Aaron Baddeley: +3 (71)
9. David Toms: +3 (72)

Threesomes will be Flesch/Baddeley/Toms at 1:40; Romero/Singh/Villegas at 1:50; Harrington/Garcia/Wi at 2:00; and Curtis/Stenson/Holmes at 2:10.

Gotta believe your next PGA champion is going to come from those dozen players.

Plenty to discuss for a few hours until the leaders tee off. You know the drill. Hit me at the above e-mail address early and often; I'll be typing as fast as I can for the next eight hours or so. Let's get going ...

Jason Sobel covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at pgaliveblog@gmail.com.