- Jason Sobel, Senior Golf Writer
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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.: One final number for you: In live blogs from all four rounds of all four major championships this year, the final word total is ... 107,033.
(Just imagine what I could do if I typed with more than two fingers!)
That'll do it from Southern Hills, as Tiger Woods picks up his 13th major championship title and fourth career PGA win. Until Augusta ...
5:58 p.m.: A few final thoughts from the readership ...
From Derrick in Parts Unknown:
- Over-under on the number of times Tiger checks his scorecard: 3.5. He wouldn't want to "serge" his 13th away.
From Laura in Parts Unknown:
- Hopefully, Jack won't let Woody have any say on the Presidents Cup
From Scott in Parts Unknown:
- If people counted the U.S. Amateur like they used to, Tiger would
only be four behind Jack!
I'll take this time to say thank you for all of the e-mails this week. As of right now, you checked in with 1,526 total e-mails and counting. This couldn't be done without the questions and comments, so it's appreciated.
5:55 p.m.: There it is! Major No. 13 for Tiger Woods as he taps in for par on the final hole -- a final-round 69 to win by 2 strokes. (Hmmm, I wonder who called that in the 2:00 p.m. entry on this blog ...)
We are watching history, golf fans. Tiger is now five shy of Jack Nicklaus' record; with each one that he wins, it's becoming an apparent inevitability that the record will be all his someday soon.
5:54 p.m.: Great summary of the final round from Phil in N.Y.:
- At the end of the day, Tiger gets his 13th major, Woody makes the Presidents Cup team, and Ernie has his best showing since his freak injury. Oh yeah, and some pretty good golf on a fabulous course. All in all not a bad day.
5:53 p.m.: Hey, look! Stephen Ames is still playing!
5:52 p.m.: You've got to love the fact that Tiger wasn't leaving the birdie putt short; he wanted to finish this thing off with a massive fist pump. Instead, it rolls a few feet by the hole.
5:48 p.m.: Tiger finds the green with his approach on 18. Unless he four-jacks from 40 feet -- hey, we've all done it, right? -- this thing is O-V-E-R.
5:46 p.m.: Congratulations to Woody Austin, who has just made par on 18 to clinch a roster spot on the Presidents Cup team. That's a final-round 67 to finish solo second ... unless Tiger does something really strange here. But that could never happen ... right?
Meanwhile, Lucas Glover falls agonizingly short of making a U.S. team for the second time in as many years.
5:42 p.m.: Standing on the 18th tee, needing only a bogey to win, Tiger pulls 2-iron and rips it down the fairway.
He may as well have turned around to the camera and said, "See, Phil, this is how you close out a major on the final hole."
5:38 p.m.: Ernie Els finishes off a round of 66 that will likely leave him in third place. Here's what he had to say to CBS:
- "I had some opportunities to make some putts. ... I missed the one on 9 and the one on 11, and the drive on 16, and that probably cost me."
Els' streak of five years without a major win continues, but he's got to be pleased with how he hit the ball and putted this week. Expect him to contend a few times next year, starting at Augusta.
5:33 p.m.: The winner for, uh, Most Curious E-mail of the Week, from Yates in Pueblo, Colo.:
- I must say I am proud of Tiger, he has faced ups and downs, critics and supporters, and he still is holding up to everyone's expectations of him. I believe his win will help his self-esteem.
I agree. This is huge for his self-esteem. Before this, he probably just sat around all the time, down in the dumps because he's only won 12 majors. But now? Tiger can just look into the mirror like his friend MJ once did, and say, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!"
5:29 p.m.: From Solomon in Harrisburg, Pa.:
- Does Tiger's play smack of an NFL prevent defense? Tiger seems to play tournaments now not to lose. He does a tremendous job of it, assuring himself of a win instead of going for a historical victory.
That's it exactly. We're never again going to see a performance like the one he gave at Pebble Beach in 2000, but he makes fewer mistakes these days, too.
After making par on 16, Tiger finds the fairway on 17.
Woody makes a fist-pumping par save on 17, but he's still 2 shots back.
5:23 p.m.: Can't resist one more Conchords reference, from Christy in Little Rock, Ark.:
- Els and Austin will soon be saying, "We're not crying -- it's just raining on our faces."
They're each running out of time; Els is on 18, Austin on 17, both 2 back.
5:18 p.m.: Jeremy in Parts Unknown with a good take on Tiger's reaction to birdie on 15:
- Did Tiger just pull a Shooter McGavin? Did you see his "point at the hole" after his traditional fist pump? "This is Tiger's tour!"
5:15 p.m.: Frank comes off the driver and Tiger absolutely mashes one down the fairway, giving it his patented flip after the follow-through. As Jemaine and Bret might say, "It's business time!"
5:13 p.m.: Tiger sinks the 10-foot birdie on 15, gives it a little point as it drops in the hole and the lead is 2 with three holes to play.
That, my friends, was large.
5:11 p.m.: From Dan in Boston:
- So how much do you think Tiger would have given to be able to ditch the withered corpse of Stephen Ames and pair up with Els or Austin for the back nine? I know its logistically impossible, but come on ... it's what the fans (and probably Tiger) want to see.
You're right. I don't think Ames' poor play has any affect on Tiger at all -- not like the guy is shooting in the triple-digits -- but it's easier to keep track of your nearest competitor when he's in your group, as opposed to scoreboard watching and wondering what the gallery reactions ahead are for.
5:07 p.m.: Tiger hits his approach to 12 feet on No. 15. Els makes bogey on 16 to drop into third place, 2 shots back.
5:03 p.m.: From Benjamin in Connecticut:
- Can you finally concede that you were wrong about Southern Hills as a course? It looks like a small-scale Augusta with the green-white contrast between the grass and the bunkers, and it plays like a true major championship venue. Medinah, site of last year's tournament, pales significantly by comparison. Southern Hills has a great variety of holes and a great finishing hole.
I won't necessarily say I was "wrong"; my comment prior to the tournament was that the 2001 U.S. Open was one of the least memorable majors I've attended and I was coming into this week with the attitude of, "Impress me."
Well, it has. I'm sold. Some of my favorites PGA Tour venues are Harbour Town, Colonial and Westchester, old-style, narrow courses that are built for shot-makers and Southern Hills fits right in. There's talk that the course won't have another major for at least a decade -- these things are done so far in advance -- but it can't come back here soon enough, if you ask me.
5:01 p.m.: After running his birdie putt 5 feet past the hole on 14, Tiger Woods lips out his par attempt off the left edge. That's a bogey, falls to 7-under.
And Woody Austin to tie on 15 ... misses a 15-footer for birdie. He stays tied with Els, just 1 shot back of the lead now!
4:56 p.m.: Worth mentioning right now that while Els and Austin are hanging around, just 2 shots back, only one other player is under par ... and that's Arron Oberholser, way back at 1-under. Talk about a three-horse race.
Stephen Ames, meanwhile, is 6-over through 14 holes. He'd better hope those "random" PGA Tour computerized pairings don't put him with Tiger too often in the opening rounds -- he'll never make another cut!
4:47 p.m.: Good work by Kevin in Lake Orion, Mich., who found this quote from Woody Austin earlier this week:
- Q. Obviously you come in and you're trying to win a tournament, trying to win a major; being 18th on the Presidents Cup list, does that even enter the equation in your mind this week that if you have a really good week?
WOODY AUSTIN: Not really. The Presidents Cup for me would be awesome but I know I'm never going to be a pick, so I'm too busy trying to play really good at the PGA Championship.
Classic Woody. Brings up a great point from Deborah in Philadelphia:
- I never get the sense of "woe is me" from Austin. He is harder on himself than any golfer I've seen. Everything is, he feels, his not making the most of his talent. He's the anti-Garcia.
Do we have a new nomination for urbandictionary.com? An antonym to "serge" could be "woody," which means "to take responsibility for things that aren't even under one's own power." I'm sorry our round of golf was canceled due to rain. I really woodied on that one.
Meanwhile, Austin makes a two-putt par on 14, stays at 6-under.
4:46 p.m.: Shades of the 16th hole chip-in at Augusta two years ago? Almost, as Woods' bunker shot trickles just inches left of the hole. Should be a tap-in for par. He'll stay at 8-under.
4:44 p.m.: Uh-oh. Tiger punches out of the trees, then hits his third shot into the back bunker. Going to be a tough up-and-down.
4:37 p.m.: Els converts the birdie on 14, Austin two-putts for birdie on 13 -- his third straight -- while Tiger is in the trees on 13. Things are tightening up a bit.
By the way, good stuff from Tiger after yesterday's round, discussing his penchant for troubleshooting on the course (even if the opening line is dripping in cheese):
- Q. You talked a lot about having to play a lot of different types of shots to be a great golfer, and today on 5 you had that punch that got you out of trouble and got up on the green. Is that something that when you were a kid you and your dad used to develop that? How did that kind of develop through the years?
TIGER WOODS: Well, maybe because my last name is Woods. My dad thought I was crazy as a kid. I used to enjoy going out there in the evening, throw golf balls in the trees. I played three balls and the average had to be a par. I enjoyed creating shots. I didn't like hitting balls in the range; I would much rather chip and putt and create and do that kind of thing. So that to me was fun. Standing out there and hitting golf balls on end was boring and still is boring. I'd much rather create shots and do things like that. So maybe that's indicative of how I grew up, I guess.
4:35 p.m.: Off-topic to the final round for just a second, artist Steve Lotus has done some pretty cool work on Southern Hills that can be found here. Thanks to his son Chris for pointing this out.
4:32 p.m.: Els follows that birdie with a perfect tee shot on the par-3 14th hole, rolls to within 3 feet. As Tiger makes par on 12, Ernie has a great chance to get to within 2 right here.
Meanwhile, Tiger's got to be thinking birdie as he heads to the par-5. He'd love to have a little more breathing room than 2 strokes.
4:30 p.m.: Els comes agonizingly close to draining his eagle putt from 20 feet on 13, but it stays out. He taps in for birdie, moves to 5-under.
4:24 p.m.: I've been getting a lot of e-mails about the alleged "twisted ankle" that Tiger may have suffered while celebrating his birdie on No. 8. While the TV folks seem to be making a big deal about it, Woods hasn't shown any signs of bother -- he's not limping or anything -- so I can't imagine it's affecting him at all.
4:20 p.m.: Woody Austin makes another bomb from the fringe on 12 ... AND HE ALMOST EMULATES THE THRILL HILL DANCE!
That was fantastic. THE U is in the house!
And Austin is back into sole possession of second place at 5-under. I haven't seen any quotes from Austin about what making the Presidents Cup would mean to him, but you've got to wonder if that's in his mind right now.
4:17 p.m.: From N8 Dawg in Parts Unknown:
- Gotta tell ya , I rather enjoy a good coronation. Much rather keep up with Tiger while he destroys the field. I prefer a good pounding versus a back and forth ping-pong match any day of the week.
Good news, Mr. Dawg. You're getting your wish today.
4:13 p.m.: From Vernon in Denver:
- Ernie Els is going to have to shoot 63 (which would give him a 276 through four rounds) to catch Tiger (assuming Tiger plays even-par golf the rest of the round). Els needs three more birdies on the back nine to catch Tiger. Doable but not easy.
I'm not sure it's doable, either. Els leaves a 12-foot par effort short on the 12th hole and drops to 4-under. He's now 4 back.
Woods is doing exactly what he needs to do, churning out par after par, as he just made another one on 11.
4:08 p.m.: Quick leaderboard check shows Tiger at 8-under through 10 holes (he just made a routine par on 10), Els at 5-under after missing a fairly short birdie putt on 11 and Austin at 4-under, thanks to a birdie from off the green on 11.
3:55 p.m.: If this turns out to be the coronation it appears to be, we'll have to find some other things to discuss. Brian in Parts Unknown reminds us of an underlying subplot this week:
- Did Hunter Mahan cement his spot as a Presidents Cup captain's pick with his 68 today?
Let's look at the entire Presidents Cup picture, with today being the last day players can earn points and the captains naming their two selections tomorrow morning. Unless Woody Austin finishes T-2 or better, the U.S. team looks like it will remain as it was entering this week, with the top 10 being Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Charles Howell III, David Toms, Scott Verplank, Steve Stricker, Stewart Cink and Lucas Glover. Pretty solid starting squad, in my opinion, with the possible exceptions of Howell and Glover, neither of whom have played well lately and own only one international team appearance between them.
If I'm Jack Nicklaus, my two picks for the team are Hunter Mahan and Chris DiMarco. Simply put, Mahan has been one of the top three or four hottest golfers in the world over the past two months, so he deserves it. And DiMarco is a stalwart on the team, the kind of guy who plays some of his best golf in match-play formats rather than stroke play.
Meanwhile, the International team will look a little different than it did at the beginning of the week, since Andres Romero will fall into the 11th spot.
The big question for Gary Player revolves around whether Mike Weir will be named to the team and get a chance to play in front of the host country fans in Canada. (The event will take place at Royal Montreal.) If I'm Player, I'd be torn between the trio of Weir, Stuart Appleby and Tim Clark for the two captain's picks, but I think I'd lean toward putting the first two on the team.
3:47 p.m.: Could be some deja vu going on for Els today. Twice he's finished as runner-up to Tiger at a major, but as Rob in Dallas reminds us, it's not exactly like they were neck-and-neck:
- Should Els' two second-place finishes to Tiger even count since they came at the 2000 U.S. Open (15 shots) and the 2000 Open Championship (6 shots)?
Technically, yeah, but I know what you're getting at. Els could finish second today and never be closer than 3 shots.
3:43 p.m.: The rest of the round may be academic, folks. Tiger drains a 25-foot birdie from the fringe on 8 and they can start engraving his name on the Wanamaker Trophy right now.
3:42 p.m.: Is that Ernie Els or John Daly? After missing a makeable birdie putt on 9, Els takes a page out of J.D.'s book, going for the green on the par-4 10th hole and actually gets it into a nice position, about pin-high, 30 yards off the green.
3:34 p.m.: Well, that was too much fun not to see what we'd find when looking for Tiger Woods anagrams:
• Tiger Woods: Writes good.
(For the record, I would love to have that as an anagram of my name.)
• Tiger Woods: Got so weird.
(Not sure if that one fits him too well.)
• Tiger Woods: Got weirdos.
(Well, if you have a look at his gallery ...)
But really, nothing is better than the following:
• Eldrick "Tiger" Woods: Stick wielder? Or God?
The stick wielder uses his putter to drain the 6-footer on No. 7, moving to 8-under.
3:30 p.m.: A random Google search for Ernie Els uncovered these anagrams, which are pretty funny:
• The South African golfer Theodore Ernest Els: Fore! Fantastic shot! Green? Sure! D'oh! Hello, tree!
• The South African golfer Ernie Els: Life's talent? High earner, of course!
3:28 p.m.: Woods goes flag-hunting on 7, knocks it to about 6 feet. Very makeable birdie putt from there.
3:22 p.m.: Someone is making a move and his name is Theodore Ernest Els. A birdie on 8 moves him to 4-under, alone in second place, 3 behind Woods.
3:20 p.m.: With a very tucked pin on 6, it's tough to go at it. Tiger almost makes a long birdie putt, settles for an easy par.
The lead is now 4 as Woody Austin misses an 8-footer for par on the seventh hole. As Austin has said about himself so many times before, if he could putt, he'd be one hell of a golfer.
3:16 p.m.: From Anthony in Tennessee:
- Tiger's shirt is absolutely saturated. Can the players not change shirts during a round? Maybe he should have worn white?
I've gotten this question a lot this week. Yes, players can change shirts. I haven't seen any do so during a round, though it may have happened. (I know both Colin Montgomerie and Niclas Fasth were using umbrellas to shade themselves from the heat.)
As for the insinuation that Tiger should have worn white, well, that just isn't an option.
3:09 p.m.: Yet another errant drive for Tiger on 5, but he gets up and down from the greenside bunker for par.
Might be time for Woods to go Hoylake-style and make sure Frank the head cover stays attached to his driver for the rest of the day.
Fun fact: The voice of Frank in the old commercials was that of Academy Award-nominated actor Paul Giamatti. Stump the Schwab with that one.
Another fun fact: Stephen Ames makes bogey on 5. Wheels. Are. Off.
2:57 p.m.: How about Phil Mickelson's round today? He made 17 pars and a birdie -- highly un-Mickelson-like.
Anyway, here's what he had to say after the round:
- Q. Tiger has a 3-shot lead. If he's anywhere near his game today, is he at all catchable?
PHIL MICKELSON: If the past is any sign of the future, then probably not. But you just never know in this game. You just never know.
Q. What makes him so good?
PHIL MICKELSON: Talent.
Way to elaborate, Phil.
Meanwhile, a look at the early quotes uncovers this classic gem from Retief Goosen, who won the U.S. Open here six years ago:
- Q. What was it like to be back at Southern Hills this week?
RETIEF GOOSEN: It was nice, thank you. It's good.
I can only imagine players were too overheated from the 100-degree temperatures that after their rounds they had trouble stringing together full sentences.
2:53 p.m.: Huge putt from Tiger on No. 4, making birdie from the front fringe. The lead is back to 3. Now he heads to the par-5, which he's played in 2-under so far this week.
2:50 p.m.: Ernie Els makes birdie on the par-5 fifth hole. He's 2-under for the day, 3-under for the tournament. Who wouldn't like to see the Big Easy make this thing interesting today? Uh, except for Tiger, of course.
2:42 p.m.: And Austin misses the 5-foot birdie putt! That's a BIG miss. Could have pulled with 1 stroke.
Story of his life. Just ask him.
2:41 p.m.: Ames birdies the third hole to final take one from Tiger, who makes par.
But the big story is Woody Austin, who goes pin-seeking on 4 with an absolute dart.
2:36 p.m.: I was waiting for this joke and Phil in N.Y. was the first to step up to the plate:
- Someone needs to tell Stephen Ames that since this isn't match play he doesn't get to leave after the 10th hole. Not sure if that will make him happy, but at least he gets to play all 18!
Woods and Ames have now played 12 holes of golf together in the past two years. Woods has won 10 of them and they've halved the other two.
2:33 p.m.: From John in Parts Unknown:
- I agree that Tiger losing would be a historic collapse, but don't you think the scores need to be taken into account if we are talking about Tiger choking? If Tiger goes 68 and loses to Ames with a 64, to me that is less of a choke. What do you think?
True, that would fall under the category of "upset" more than "choke," although being in the final pairing, Woods will be able to scoreboard-watch a bit. If someone in front of him goes low, he'll know it's happening; if it's Ames (though that seems unlikely after his bogey-bogey start), he'll have a front-row seat. Either way, he'll know he has to start putting the pedal to the metal.
2:29 p.m.: Errant drive on the second hole means Tiger has to punch out. Fails to get up and down from there and makes bogey, as does Ames.
Meanwhile, THE U's Woody Austin birdies No. 3 to move to within two strokes of the lead. Dance, Woody, dance!
2:24 p.m.: From my buddy Chris from Cali, who's also a University of Miami alum:
- Definitely pulling for Woody Austin of THE U over the rest of the field at this point!
Interesting that Austin played college golf for a school that no longer has a golf program. How many guys can say that?
Chris also recommends that if Austin wins today, he should dance like Randal Hill at the 2:28 mark of this clip.
I'm just hoping he doesn't start a brawl.
2:17 p.m.: From Mike in Denver:
- Since the leader or a co-leader after 36 holes has won at Southern Hills in every
major it has hosted and Tiger has a ridiculous record when leading after 36 and 54 holes, if loses today where would it rank on the list of all-time golf upsets?
Great question. Does it top the list? I think so. After all, the benchmark for biggest final-round choke/upset has to be Greg Norman at the 1996 Masters, but Norman was hardly the closer that Tiger is. Arnold Palmer led by seven shots with nine holes to play in the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic Club and lost to Billy Casper in a playoff.
Still, if Tiger surrenders a 3-shot lead entering today's round -- and one that has already been extended to four -- it's right at the top of the list.
2:14 p.m.: Tiger looks shaky in zipping his birdie effort about 6 feet past the hole on No. 1, but makes the par coming back. Meanwhile, Stephen Ames makes bogey -- continuing the streak of poor starts for Woods' playing partners in the final pairing of a major -- increasing the differential to 4.
2:11 p.m.: Sean from Parts Unknown checks in with what he calls a "crazy Jack/Tiger stat":
- Jack Nicklaus won eight majors before his 31st birthday. That's 44 percent of his total. If Tiger's current 12 are only 44 percent of his total, that's 27 majors. Impossible ... right?
Wow. Talk about putting Woods' accomplishments into perspective, that pretty much does it right there. And I echo Sean's sentiment -- 27 majors has to be impossible, right?
Tiger has talked about hanging up the spikes earlier in his career rather than later, but competing in major tournaments can get pretty addictive, especially when you keep winning 'em. And you can bet that when Tiger is 46 years old and owns all of golf's vaunted records, well, there might just be one more he'd want to steal from Jack, too. So let's not be so naive to think that Woods will hit 40 and just stop playing altogether.
One more stat to take note of, courtesy of Joel Schuchmann with the PGA Tour:
- Jack Nicklaus won his 13th major in his 53rd professional major start at the 1975 Masters Tournament.
This week's PGA Championship is Tiger's 44th professional major start. A victory gives him the title in 29.5 percent of those tournaments. By comparison, through 13 victories, Nicklaus was winning at a rate of 24.5 percent. Woods also got started earlier; Jack's 13th win came when he was 35 years old, while Tiger is currently 31.
2:08 p.m.: That said, Southern Hills can yield some low scores today. We've already seen Simon Dyson, who was 6-over entering the round, shoot a 64 to finish at even-par. And, quite honestly, if Simon Dyson can do it, why can't Stephen Ames, John Senden or Woody Austin?
Then again, if Simon Dyson can do it, chances are Tiger Woods can, too.
2:04 p.m.: Here's the thing about today's final round: It's not like Woods has guys named Mickelson and Furyk in close pursuit. Ernie Els was the only other former major champion under par entering the day, but he started his round 6 shots back, which is probably too much to overcome. I just don't see someone like Woody Austin or John Senden putting a low number on the board playing right in front of Tiger.
That leaves Stephen Ames. He's never won a major, but he did run away with the Players Championship last year. Will he fall into the same trap as Tiger's past final pairing playing partners? It's been an ugly bunch. Here's what I wrote for ESPN.com in breaking down the pairing:
- At the Masters, Stuart Appleby bogeyed four of the first seven holes en route to a final-round 75 and a T-7 finish. At the U.S. Open, Aaron Baddeley opened with a triple-bogey, shot 80 and finished T-13.
"[Woods] has that influence on players," Ames said. "It's probably going to happen to me."
Nothing like the power of positive thinking, huh?
In the 12 times Woods has won a major -- and remember, he led or shared the lead in every single instance -- his final-round scoring average is 69.2. His playing partner's average score is 72.9. That's a huge difference -- almost four full strokes. If Tiger beats Ames by 4 today, it's game, set and match, because I just don't see anyone else from back in the pack making up ground.
2:00 p.m.: Good afternoon from Southern Hills, where Tiger Woods is set to tee off en route to what will probably be his 13th major championship title.
Probably. Not definitely.
Entering the final round of the 2005 U.S. Open, Retief Goosen led by 3, everyone was declaring him the winner ... and he shot 81. Entering the final round of last month's British Open, Sergio Garcia led by 3, everyone was declaring him the winner ... and he shot 73 then lost in a playoff.
Now, Goosen and Garcia are both world-class talents, but of course, neither is Tiger Woods. Will the game's greatest closer fail to capture what seems like an inevitability?
For what it's worth, I say no. (And remember, for what it's worth, I also picked Stewart Cink to win this thing before it started, so what do I know?) My best guess is that Tiger does what it takes to win, leaving things somewhat in doubt until the last couple of holes before shooting 68 or 69 and cruising to a 2-3 stroke victory.
All we can do now is sit back and watch the show, so stick with the live blog throughout the next four hours and, as always, hit the link above with questions and comments and hit the refresh button every few minutes or so. Here we go ...
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