Everyone aiming for Tiger in PGA final round

Updated: August 19, 2006, 10:45 PM ET
By Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

MEDINAH, Ill. -- Despite what golf fans around the world are thinking, Tiger Woods did not win the 88th PGA Championship on Saturday. There's one round remaining before he may pose with the Wanamaker Trophy, and it actually is more than a mere formality.

In the interim, any collector of Woods' great rounds in majors will make room for the 7-under-par 65 recital that the world's best golfer gave in the third round at Medinah Country Club's No. 3 course.

Playing in ideal scoring conditions and playing with one of his oldest and closest friends, Chris Riley, Woods hit 17 of 18 greens. Only one of his eight birdie putts measured longer than 12 feet. His lowest round ever in a PGA Championship tied the course record and gave him a 54-hole score of 14-under 202.

Tiger Woods
Charlie Neibergall /AP PhotoWoods shares the lead with Luke Donald entering the final round.

"It doesn't feel like a major," Woods said. "Generally, you need mostly pars and a couple of birdies and you move up the board."

Not this week. Not on soft fairways and soft greens. In fact, Woods isn't even leading by himself. Luke Donald, the 28-year-old Brit who played at Northwestern and continues to make his home in nearby Evanston, Ill., held on to his share of the lead with a 66.

You could get shorter odds on Donald's Wildcats winning the BCS Championship Game this season than you could on him beating Woods on Sunday. And that's before the little piece of history that no European has won the PGA since the Silver Scot, Tommy Armour, in 1930.

Donald confirmed Saturday night, that, yes, he would show up and perhaps -- oh, what the heck -- try to win himself. He hoped to receive an assist from the burden of expectations placed on the world's best golfer.

"Maybe I can use that to my advantage," Donald said, "and just kind of sneak by without anyone noticing and, you know, pick up the trophy."

This is the 12th time in Woods' career that he has held at least a share of the lead going into the final round of a major championship. That piece of trivia is hardly trivial -- the man has won 11 majors. Donald could have closed that door as he stood over a 30-foot bomb at the 18th hole. But, no.

"I mean, I was kind of laughing," said U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, who overcame a double bogey at the first hole to shoot a 68 and finish at 11 under, in fourth place, three strokes back. "We wanted Luke to hole that putt on the last because that brings us all back into it, because then he's [Woods] not leading.

"But, look, someone is going to beat him one day," the Aussie continued. "It would be more special to win the tournament if he would be leading going into the last round and you beat him. That would be a pretty good feather in your cap."

Woods has the experience, and on a day when the winner will likely have to make a cap full of birdies -- and if you're wondering, the lowest score in relation to par at any of the four major championships is Woods' 19 under at the 2000 British Open -- he will have the advantage of playing last.

"If the guys make a bunch of birdies, which you know they are going to do, you have the same opportunity to make birdies on those same holes," Woods said. "Most majors, especially U.S. Opens, that's not the case. You're just trying to survive and make pars. Tomorrow, I think anyone who wants to win this championship has to make some birdies."

Consider the plight of Mike Weir. He tied the course record with a 65 nearly an hour before Woods did -- and made up no ground on him. That does not bode well for Sunday.

"You know, 68 is the worst he's probably going to shoot," said Weir, alone in third place at 12 under, two strokes back, "so I have to shoot 65. You don't want to be too far back. You just want to be in the mix."

Seven years ago, in the last PGA held at Medinah, Woods and Weir shared the lead through 54 holes. Weir, then a young Canadian who had never been in the final twosome at a major, came unglued in the midst of Tigermania and shot an 80. Woods shot a 72 and won.

Weir learned from the experience, won the Air Canada Championship a few weeks later, and picked up a major, the 2003 Masters, as well.

"The other guys trying to win [their first major] are going to have probably a little more nerves than maybe the two of us," Weir said, referring to him and Woods. "I'm going to have more nerves, probably, than Tiger. He seems to do very well with it."

Sunday nerves are as much a part of the final round of a major championship as the post-victory trophy shot. But not even the prospect of winning the PGA may be enough to tamp down the scores Sunday.

"The scoring is there for the taking, no question," Weir said. "[Nerves] might not be as much of a factor as, maybe, normal."

The scoreboard may look as if it were imported from the Bob Hope Classic, but there will be a ceremony at the end of the day Sunday with a big silver trophy. Woods has not won the Wanamaker since 2000, the longest drought, if you will, that he has endured in any of the four majors.

Stranger things have happened. But as the old maternal advice goes, name two.

"He just does what's required," Ogilvy said of Woods, "which is what [Jack] Nicklaus did, which is what the great players always did."

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Ivan.Maisel@espn3.com.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com