Jason Sobel's live blog

Originally Published: August 15, 2009
By Jason Sobel |

Jason Sobel's Round 3 PGA Championship Live Blog(08/15/2009) 
Kevin Maguire,  Welcome to Round 3 of the PGA Championship live blog. Jason Sobel will be here at 2 p.m. ET to begin the festivities.
JasonSobel:  Good afternoon from Hazeltine National GC, where the PGA of America has decided to continue hosting the PGA Championship rather than calling it off and declaring Tiger Woods the winner after 36 holes.

I'm kidding, of course, but the prevailing sentiment here at the course is that the year's final major will simply turn into a weekend coronation for Woods' 15th career major title. The stats back up that notion, as TW is 8-for-8 when holding the 36-hole lead at a major and 32-6 in those situations during his PGA Tour career, including a dozen straight victories.

Fact is, many folks believe we're on the verge of seeing the 2000 version of the game's top player, when he won the U.S. Open by 15 and British Open by 8. Then again, at that year's PGA Championship, Woods held a 1-stroke advantage through 36 holes, but was eventually caught at the end of regulation by Bob May, who was 5 behind at the midway point.

Entering the third round, there are seven players within that number, including three major champions in Vijay Singh, Padraig Harrington and Lucas Glover. I'm guessing none of 'em called May for advice last night. So yeah, while I think it's over and you think it's over ... this thing may not be over. (For more on how and why Tiger may not win, check out my final blog post from Round 2.)

Forty minutes away from Woods' third-round final pairing tee time with Singh. I'll be here until the final putt drops, so don't go anywhere. As always, hit me with questions and comments at or on Twitter at JasonSobel. You may now swing away ...
JasonSobel:  Obviously, using a new program for today's Live Blog, so bear with me if this page turns into Russian at some point. On the bright side, I'm now armed with plenty of cool whistles and bells, so we can have some fun with this. Cool See, I can put one of those smiling guys in there. Of course, I hate those smiling guys. Maybe I'll use one of these for a Blog Jinx. Yell

Anyway, first cool trick of the day is a poll that I will post below. Vote early, vote often. It's the American way.
What will be the final result of the PGA Championship?
Tiger wins by 5+ strokes.
 ( 45% )
Tiger wins by 1-4 strokes.
 ( 46% )
Tiger wins in a playoff.
 ( 1% )
Tiger does not win.
 ( 8% )

2:08 [Comment From Scott (Geneva) ]
Liking the new format. Keeps my F5 button from getting worn out.
JasonSobel:  I like the feedback. Anything we can do to save your F5 button is a good thing...
2:08 [Comment From Mike from Reno ]
How are the scoring conditions out there? It looks all over the place. And the new format is sweet.
JasonSobel:  A little windy, a little cooler than the previous few days and a little rainy so far ... but all in all, conditions aren't much different than the first two rounds. So far, 20 of the 70 players who have completed at least one hole are under par for the day. That does not include Phil Mickelson, who after making the cut on the number ballooned to a 4-over 76.
2:12 [Comment From David Cecil ]
Love the new format!
JasonSobel:  David Cecil everyone! Live Blog theme song writer and one-half of the duo Far Beyond Frail!
2:12 [Comment From Shaun, Philadelphia ]
Where's the charge from Phil? The Live Blog Theme Song promised he'd be charging!
JasonSobel:  Umm, you'll have to talk to David about that ...
2:13 [Comment From Jack (Seattle) ]
How 'bout a link to the theme song? I need to start the afternoon on a good note!
JasonSobel:  Jason's on it. Here you go.
JasonSobel:  I think all you need to know about Phil Mickelson's round is summed up by this comment from him afterward: " I didn't hit the ball very well today, either. But I didn't make very many putts."

Other than not hitting the ball or putting well, he was really on fire.
Twitterclscholes:  @JasonSobel halfway through round 2 you said you were sticking with's that looking now?
JasonSobel:  Remember: I also stated that I may fall back on my No. 2 guy. Tiger something-or-other. For the record, Mahan is 1-under through six holes. Making a charge.
2:22 [Comment From VRBIGDADDY ]
JasonSobel:  I'm going with Ross Fisher. Because ... I don't know why. Just because I feel like it may be one of the guys we don't expect, which basically means not Harrington or Singh. Fisher played flawless golf until the final two holes yesterday. He's also the only player in the world to finish 30th or better at every major so far this year. And now that he's not on baby watch, there's probably no chance that he'll leave in the middle of a round.
2:24 [Comment From Ken ]
How about Steve Flesch. He gets to 5 under for the round and by birdieing the incredibly hard pair of 12 and 13 then goes bogey, double bogey on the comparatively easy 14th and 15th?
JasonSobel:  And then he follows with another birdie! That's a six-hole stretch for Flesch of bogey-birdie-birdie-bogey-double-birdie. Add 'em all up and he's 1-over-par for those holes. Yawn.
2:25 [Comment From Erik (the OC) ]
With this new blog format, have we seen the end of your longer posts in favor of 2 or 3 sentence quips? Don't strive for mediocrity!
JasonSobel:  Nope. Just checking out all the fancy new buttons to see what works and what doesn't. Expect the Live Blog to be very much like it was before, just with a few more little gadgets and a different look.
JasonSobel:  The Hazeltine galleries are kjumping for kjoy over Kjeldsen!

Soren Kjeldsen has opened birdie-birdie to move to 3-under, joining the large pack in second place behind Tiger Woods.

Maybe he's the guy that will make a move.

Again, for whatever reason, I just see someone coming out of nowhere -- some player we're not expecting -- to charge up the leaderboard, much like Bob May at this event nine years ago.
2:29 [Comment From Mike in Minneapolis ]
Blog Jinx! Bogey for Mahan. I think your 2nd pick is gonna fair better...
JasonSobel:  YellYellYell

I believe that will be the new official logo of the Blog Jinx.
JasonSobel:  Even though this is the longest course in major championship history (I think I've written those last seven words at least 500 times this week), it seems to be favoring the ball-strikers today.

How else to explain Soren Kjeldsen, Tim Clark and Stephen Ames each climbing the leaderboard?

Each of these guys is known more as a short hitter with a solid iron game than a big bomber.

Then again, it's not as if the long hitters can't find some success, too. "Stupid-long" Alvaro Quiros and Henrik Stenson are each under par for the day.
2:37 [Comment From Bob in Seattle ]
Jason... Love the new look... Why do you think Ross Fisher is able to stay in contention in all these majors?? For a guy who has been a relative unknown until this year he has held his own in the majors..
JasonSobel:  He was asked that question yesterday and basically said he really wants to win a major, so he tries really hard to play well. Which sort of sums up everyone, doesn't it?

Really, though, I think Fisher fares well at these events because he's the type of guy who can go low in tough conditions. On the European Tour, he owns two career victories, but he's sort of been known as this "always a bridesmaid" type of guy, with a whole bunch of second-place finishes.

Tough to say what his secret has been as of late, especially if he doesn't know himself.

Fisher and playing partner Padraig Harrington both made par on the first to remain at 3-under.
JasonSobel:  Now on the tee ... Tiger Woods.

Expect a conservative gameplan today. I think Tiger has a few specific goals in mind:

1. No bogeys. Even if that means aiming for the fat part of some greens rather than going at some flagsticks, he wants to avoid any mistakes.

2. Birdie the par-5s. Throughout his career, TW has eaten up these holes; even though Hazeltine's are long, he'd love to get up and down with a wedge on 3 of 4 occasions today.

3. Beat Vijay. They may not be bitter enemies, but Woods and Singh aren't exactly good buddies, either. He'd love to have more than a 4-stroke differential between himself and his playing partner by the end of the day.
2:49 [Comment From Ryan from Twin Cities ]
Big problem with the new layout Jason. I could read the old blog easily on my Blackberry. This new fangled one, not so much. I'm making a 3 hour drive this afternoon, and can't keep up to date with the blog anymore. Tell the techheads to come up with a solution, please!
JasonSobel:  Still a work in progress, folks. We'll try to figure out all the bugs. As one e-mailer wrote earlier, this is akin to Tiger Woods coming out with a belly putter today. Not saying I had a 4-stroke lead in PGA blogs, but I had a little room to play with some new technology.
JasonSobel:  Tiger Woods scrambles for par on the first hole. Remains at 7-under.

We've seen two days of fairly easy golf for Tiger. What I mean by that is that he hasn't had to work very hard for anything; he hit 29 of 36 greens in regulation over the course of the opening two rounds, which means that even when he wasn't making birdies, he was tapping in for par on a lot of occasions.

If TW has to start sweating it out today and grinding for pars, at some point he'll start making a few mistakes, too.
JasonSobel:  Perhaps Lucas Glover will be the one to make a move today.

The reigning U.S. Open champ loves this course, due in part to the fact that he's an excellent driver of the golf ball, ranking No. 2 on the PGA Tour in total driving this year.

Glover just made birdie on the second hole to break out of that pack at 3-under and take sole possession of the runner-up position.

I know I've mentioned this a few times during the week, but it's an incredible stat: There are currently four players who have won the U.S. Open and PGA in the same year -- Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Needless to say, Glover could be the least heralded member of this fivesome should he win this week.
TwitterRyanLennon:  @JasonSobel What are your thoughts on young Rory Mcilroy's play this tournament? Can you see him winning a major within the next few years?
JasonSobel:  Right now, McIlroy is 1-under for the day and 1-under for the tourney, in a share of 15th place. Ask any pro who has played with him and you'll hear nothing but effusive praise.

I remember talking to Ian Poulter about Rory back at Doral earlier this year. He basically said the kid hits it long and straight, has a good iron game and makes a lot of putts. Sounds like a pretty easy game when you do all of that, doesn't it?

As for winning a major? I'd like to see him win a few other tourneys first. He's already lost a couple of playoffs in heartbreaking fashion and his one career win came when he was way up in Dubai earlier this year, then nearly kicked it away before recovering with a great shot from the back bunker on the final hole to win by a single shot.

He's a very good player, an immense talent. But let's wait for a few more regular tour wins before we start saying he's ready to win a major.
JasonSobel:  Great approach on No. 2 by Tiger Woods and he sinks the ensuing 4-foot birdie putt to move to 8-under and regain a 4-shot lead.

Interesting to note that on the poll below right now, 59 percent of you believe TW will win by 5 or more. And only 4 percent see a different name being atop the leaderboard at the end of play tomorrow.

Now that Tiger is at 8-under, it's time for another poll ...
What score will lead after Round 3?
12-under-par or better
 ( 9% )
10- or 11-under-par
 ( 50% )
8- or 9-under-par
 ( 38% )
7-under-par or worse
 ( 3% )

JasonSobel:  Padraig Harrington has really struggled on the par-5s. He just made a breaking 25-footer on No. 3 ... but it was only for par.

That putt looked eerily reminiscent of the one on the final hole at Oakland Hills last year to win.
3:20 [Comment From Adam ]
Tiger's stroking it off the tee, which is the one area in which he can potentially get in trouble and make a big number. He isn't gonna three jack multiple times in a round, so this is over already right?

I keep thinking of the comment -- and I even used it in the final post of yesterday's blog -- from Stephen Ames a few years back, when he said of Tiger: "Anything can happen where he's hitting the ball."

It was construed as trash talk at the time, but really, Ames was onto something. When Woods is playing Army golf -- you know, left, right, left, right -- he is beatable.

But when he is knocking the ball down the fairway, as he had at a 75 percent clip coming into this round? No way. Game, set and match.

Unless Tiger starts going wayward over the next 33 holes, he won't make any big numbers. And no, I don't see any three-putts coming, either.

Woods just barely misses his birdie putt on No. 3, but settles for par to stay at 8-under.


Some big-time players are starting to make some big-time moves.

Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy are now each at 3-under. The European Ryder Cup team is having a really strong showing on the leaderboard.

Meanwhile, don't forget about Y.E. Yang. I'm serious. Two years ago, he went toe-to-toe with Woods at the HSBC Champions tournament and beat him. How many other guys on the leaderboard can say that? I count Vijay Singh and Tim Clark (if you want to say that about his second-round match play victory earlier this year). There aren't many, though.

3:32 [Comment From rob ]
i think vijay is one of the few players who've gotten into tiger's head. Just another inspiration for tiger today

In his head? Uh, no. He's beaten Tiger before, most notably when they were paired together on Labor Day in 2004, when Vijay took over the No. 1 spot in the OWGR, but there isn't a guy in the world who is in Tiger's head. Not even close.

JasonSobel:  ESPNEWS interview with my buddy Steve Bunin, back in a few ...
3:39 [Comment From Stephen (Unknown Parts) ]
You leave us hanging by ourselves and it's Three Jack City for Tiger.
JasonSobel:  Wow, when was the last time you saw Tiger miss a shorty like that one?

Must just be a coincidence that it came just minutes after I smartly predicted he wouldn't make any three-putts around here. Did I really say that? Must have been a bug in the new blog format -- I meant to say I see one coming really soon.

That drops TW back to 7-under, a 3-stroke leader over Lucas Glover.
JasonSobel:  Tiger hooks one way left off the tee on No. 5 ... and the entire gallery runs after the ball.

We haven't seen that swing too often this week. That was ugly. Should be able to still go at the green from there, though.
JasonSobel:  ESPN Radio interview with Dave Shore; tune in now ...

After that wayward tee shot, Tiger's approach shot is just left of the green, but a solid chip leads to par.

He remains 3 strokes ahead of Y.E. Yang, Lee Westwood and Lucas Glover.

3:52 [Comment From Daniel ]
umm i dont know what you are seeing but tiger's drive was on the right edge of the was the second shot that was wayward
JasonSobel:  That's what I meant. Thanks, guys ...
JasonSobel:  Great approach by Y.E. Yang into the 10th green. He'll have about 5 feet left for birdie.

Remember: Yang has defeated Tiger (and Retief Goosen) in the past, winning the HSBC Champions. Here's what he had to say after that victory: "This is such a big thing that's happening to me right now, such a big moment in my life right now, that it's really hard for me to explain in words how I feel right now."

After he won the Honda Classic earlier this year (without Tiger in the field), he said, "I'm just thankful that I'm able to play in tournaments that Tiger played. When I first came to the PGA Tour, there were so many good players out here; not only Tiger. It was just an honor for me to be able to compete against them. To be able to face Tiger again and again, is an honor for me."

Blog Jinx! Yell

Yang misses that short birdie attempt which would have moved him to 5-under. He'll stay in a share of second place instead.

4:00 [Comment From Jim ]
Harrington with a nice bird on the par 5 7th.
JasonSobel:  And that's after six straight pars to start. In each of Harrington's three major wins, he was hardly the main story at this point in the tournament.

Paddy is easily one of the most patient players in the game -- and no, that wasn't another "on the clock" joke. Patience wins majors, as he can attest.
JasonSobel:  Tiger Woods misses his birdie attempt on No. 6, but settles for par.

Obviously, he wanted the bird, but anytime you read the words "settle for par" in regard to Tiger, it's a good thing. This is all part of the gameplan. He would like his round to be as non-stressful as possible. Doesn't need to go out and fire a 63 today.
JasonSobel:  Meanwhile, Vijay Singh just made a mess of No. 6, but still had a makeable par effort that barely missed.

He drops to 2-under, 1-over for the day after five pars to open.

Things are tightening up!

Birdies for Padraig Harrington and Lucas Glover mean Tiger's lead is down to 2.

It's Moving Day and a few major champions are movin' on up.


Kjeldsen is no kjoke.

After playing the front nine in 2-under, Soren Kjeldsen just opened with a birdie on the back to move to 4-under.

He's tied with Y.E. Yang, just 3 behind Tiger Woods.

JasonSobel:  Wow! Great chip by Vijay Singh on No. 7 finds the bottom of the cup for eagle. Makes up for the bogey in a hurry.

He's at 4-under for the first time.

Remember those likely parts of Tiger Woods' gameplan that I listed earlier? Well, he just made a low-stress par, which is good ... but it came on a par-5, which is bad.

After playing the eight total par-5 holes in 5-under for the opening two rounds, he's only carded a couple of pars today. Can't be too pleased with that.

JasonSobel:  Tiger Woods hits one a mile high with his tee shot on No. 8 -- so much so that he not only picked up his tee, but started walking off the tee box before it even landed.

Ball finds the back of the green, some 25 feet from the hole.

Of the top eight players on the leaderboard, every single one of 'em is under par for the round except ... Tiger Woods.

That's how things get tight in a hurry.

In fact, only one of the seven under par isn't multiple strokes under for the round and that's Vijay Singh, who is 1-under.

Twittercanadasportsguy:  @jasonsobel good to see els making some noise. has anyone lost more majors to Tiger than else??
JasonSobel:  Actually, if Tiger Woods didn't exist, Ernie may still be stuck on three majors. Els has twice finished runner-up to Woods -- by 15 at the 2000 U.S. Open and by 8 at the British Open one month later -- but in each instance, there was another player also tied for second place.

The Big Easy is playing some inspired golf today, though, as he just rolled in a 6-footer -- the type of putt which has been killing him in recent years -- to make birdie on No. 11 and move to 4-under for the tournament, very much in the mix.
JasonSobel:  Routine two-putt par for Tiger Woods on No. 8. Follows by striping one down the ninth fairway.
JasonSobel:  Soren Kjeldsen is on fire!

Three straight birdies for the Denmark native and he's now tied for second alongside Lucas Glover and Padraig Harrington.

Just an FYI: In the three other majors this season, he MC'd at the Masters, was T-27 at the British and did not qualify for the U.S. Open.
4:30 [Comment From Jordan from Topeka ]
Dude, the Live Blog Theme Song is soooo stuck in my head. But I can't stop listening. You should have it playing in a loop on this page all day
JasonSobel:  Great idea. I'm on it, I'm on it.
JasonSobel:  Tiger Woods with a wedge from 125 on No. 9 ... hits about 6 feet short of the pin and spins all the way off the front of the green.

If he struggled with any part of his game over the first two rounds, it was his distance control, and that appears to be part of the problem today, too.

Could be yet another hole where he chips it close and taps in for par.

Is it time to change the gameplan mid-round?
4:33 [Comment From Daniel ]
hey jason, in the polls at the bottom, what would your votes be?
JasonSobel:  Guess I should have answered this earlier, but I'll go with Tiger winning by 1-4 strokes and a third-round leading score of 8-9-under-par.

Might be time for a new poll. Best suggestion wins a free copy of the Live Blog theme song.
JasonSobel:  Yikes. Vijay Singh just gaaked one from about 6 feet (and yes, I spelled that correctly).

From closer, Tiger Woods cleans up for par and an even-par front-nine 36.
JasonSobel:  ESPNEWS interview with Steve Bunin. Back in a few ...
4:41 [Comment From Jake from NJ ]
lol thts funny...just changed over to espn and heard you on there after following your blog all day, feel like a sobel stalker
JasonSobel:  Thanks, Jake. But if you show up at my hotel tonight, I'm calling the authorities.
4:42 [Comment From Corey ]
The new poll should be: "Who will play in the Final Round with Tiger?"
JasonSobel:  Not exactly an original idea, but it's the right one to go with right now.
Who will play in the final round with Tiger Woods?
Soren Kjeldsen
 ( 7% )
Padraig Harrington
 ( 63% )
Lucas Glover
 ( 12% )
Henrik Stenson
 ( 2% )
Ernie Els
 ( 13% )
Vijay Singh
 ( 3% )


Maybe that three-year plan is finally starting to come to fruition.

In the final major championship of Ernie Els' supposed three-year plan to catch Tiger Woods for No. 1 in the world ranking, he's playing lights-out golf right now.

Els just chipped in on No. 12 for birdie to move to 5-under, just 2 behind Tiger.

Fantastic leaderboard right now, with five major champions in the top-eight, plus a Players champion (Stenson).

JasonSobel:  Alvaro Quiros and John Rollins are each in the clubhouse at 2-under, tied for 10th place.

At most major championships, I'd expect the pack to come back to them a bit, as they climb the leaderboard while working on the range or napping in their hotel rooms later this afternoon.

But today? I don't see it happening. Will be interesting to see where they wind up at the end of the day. My guess: Right around where they are right now -- in a share of 10th place.

Patience, patience, patience.

It's a virtue at major championships and Padraig Harrington knows it better than anyone else. He makes birdie on No. 11 to move to 6-under, just one shot behind Tiger Woods.

If there's one guy who won't be intimidated by playing with TW on Sunday, it's Harrington, who's spent more time around Woods in the past week than I've spent blogging.

Still plenty of golf left to be played, but if they're in the final pairing together expect some fireworks.

JasonSobel:  Vijay Singh would be leading this tournament if he could make any mid-range putts.

At least when Tiger was missing 'em at Bethpage and Turnberry, they were often from the 10-12-foot range. Vijay is gaaking the 6-footers, though, which is truly mind-boggling. Might be time to dust off that belly putter.
JasonSobel:  After a par on 10, Tiger drives into the bunker on 11. Shouldn't hurt him too much, was going to lay up from there anyway.

"I hear this place is restricted, Yang."

Talking about the leaderboard, of course, as Y.E. Yang misses a par attempt on 13 to drop to 3-under and back into a share of seventh place.

JasonSobel:  Great analogy. That's exactly what he's doing right now. Of course, that's exactly what he often does when he's in the lead and it usually works, so it's tough to criticize him for today.

Or maybe TW is just being paid off by the network to keep everyone else in the mix for a while, so that Sunday's telecast isn't a complete coronation.
5:06 [Comment From evan j ]
Yang was just kidding...
JasonSobel:  Follows with a birdie to get back to 4-under. "What's with the pictures?"
JasonSobel:  Sorry, that "analogy" comment at 5:06 was in reference to a reader e-mail about Tiger playing prevent defense right now instead of blitzing and trying to make something happen. It made sense. Really.
JasonSobel:  How dominant has Tiger Woods been throughout his career? He owns 14 career major victories.

The rest of the top 25 includes seven major champions who have combined for 13 total.

Another par for Tiger on 11.

The next stretch of holes is crucial. Nos. 12 and 13 are playing as the toughest and third-toughest throughout the week, respectively, but 14 and 15 are two of the three easiest.

Could be a major swing. We'll see which direction.

JasonSobel:  Just off the green in two on 14, Ernie Els chips well past the hole and misses the birdie comebacker. Definitely gave one away there. Would have moved to within 1 of the lead if he could have gotten up and down.

Henrik Stenson nearly just slam-dunked one for eagle on the final hole. It hits the stick and bounces about 10 feet away.

Now for birdie and a tournament-best-tying 5-under 67 ... and he misses.

Still, a nice round for Stenson. He's the current clubhouse leader and will go into Sunday's final round at 4-under.

JasonSobel:  Y.E. Yang is on fire.

A second straight birdie moves him to 5-under.

I don't know about you, but I've been saying this thing looks like a Yang-Kjeldsen playoff the entire time.
5:24 [Comment From John G. In Morristown, TN ]
Isn't this about the time the old Tiger would have reached into the chest cavities of the other guys on the leaderboard and pulled their hearts out like that dude in the Temple of Doom?
JasonSobel:  Sure seems that way, but it just hasn't happened for him yet. It's not like he's playing badly -- he has a birdie, nine pars and a bogey -- but for Tiger, "not playing badly" isn't exactly what he's going for.

Gotta believe there will be some kind of signature shot coming up, either a dart-like approach or a big-time putt.
JasonSobel:  Not this time. Putting from the fringe, Tiger knocks one to tap-in range for yet another par.

Here's guessing that if you told Woods before the round that he'd be even through 12, he'd have been OK with it. But if you told him he'd be even through 12 with many other players in contention at 3- or 4-under-par for the day? Nope, he wouldn't be happy at all.
5:29 [Comment From Mike ]
Is the new blog format transforming the blog jinx? Normally Tiger is unaffected by the jinx, but now he seems to be under some sort of general malaise where he's just not dominating like most thought he would...
JasonSobel:  Obviously. Oh, and not many other players who are "jinxed" into making pars -- especially at majors.
JasonSobel:  If the leaderboard stays exactly as is, I wonder if we've ever had a bigger discrepancy between the final pairing on a major Sunday and the penultimate pairing in terms of fan interest.

Gotta think the Tiger Woods/Padraig Harrington pairing would have a few more people watching than Y.E. Yang/Soren Kjeldsen.
JasonSobel:  Ernie Els is on fire. He's at 6-under right now, three holes to play. Wow.
JasonSobel:  And Padraig Harrington makes a birdie! We have co-leaders...
JasonSobel:  And Y.E. Yang makes a birdie to move to 6-under!

It's like Tiger Woods is playing the U.S. Open and everyone else is playing the Bob Hope Classic.

By staying right where he was entering the third round, Woods has given up a ton of ground to the field, now tied for the lead with Harrington and just a shot ahead of Ernie Els and Y.E. Yang.

JasonSobel:  Great note on Ernie Els from ESPN researcher David Bearman:

Els (currently one behind Tiger) triple-bogeyed the eighth hole on Thursday en route to a round of 3-over 75. He is the only player currently at par or better for the tournament who has a triple-bogey on his scorecard.
5:42 [Comment From Devin ]
how aware is Tiger of the approaching field?
JasonSobel:  Very. He may not know the exact order of things on the leaderboard, but he's definitely a scoreboard watcher and wants to know where he stands at all times.

For what seems like the 11th time today, Woods drops in a 3-footer for par on No. 13. He got through the two difficult holes with a pair of pars. Now come two of the easier holes.

I'd be surprised if TW wasn't at least at 8-under going to the 16th tee box, if not 9-under.
5:46 [Comment From Aubrey Clayton ]
Any possibility that watching Vijay collapse has had an effect on Tiger today? He seems to thrive on match-play style competition with a worthy competitor.
5:46 [Comment From Gus ]
Would Tiger be playing this way if he was paired with Harrington?
JasonSobel:  Believe me, Tiger cares very little about his playing partner. Fact is, most touring pros don't care too much, at least not to the point where it would affect their scores.

Trying to drive the green on 14, Tiger hits right through it and winds up just off the back. Shouldn't be a very tough chip from there. Expect a birdie.
JasonSobel:  After a run of three birdies in five holes, Ernie Els made a mess of things on No. 16 and drops to 5-under.
JasonSobel:  Wow. If there's one shot that is emblematic of Tiger Woods' day, it was the chip from behind the green on 14.

After driving it through the green with his tee shot, Woods bladed one well past the hole and onto the fringe on the right side of the green.

That was about a 30-foot chip that he hit 20 feet past the hole. Incredibly disappointing.
JasonSobel:  And if there's one shot that is emblematic of Tiger's career, it's the second chip on 14, as he knocks it straight into the bottom of the cup, then punctuates it with a big fist pump.

There was that signature shot we've been waiting for. Tiger moves to 8-under and regains a 1-shot advantage over Padraig Harrington.
JasonSobel:  See -- easy birdie, just like I said he'd make.
5:59 [Comment From Michael ]
Shot of the tournament thus far?
JasonSobel:  Let's not forget Padraig Harrington's bunker shot from 301 to pin-high yesterday, but yeah, that was TW's biggest shot so far. If he goes on to win, that will be one of the shots you remember from this week.
JasonSobel:  And Tiger follows up by driving into the bunker on the par-5 15th. Again, not an awful mistake considering he'd be forced to lay up anyway, but still, it's not exactly the "easy golf" that we talked about earlier.

If Tiger makes par here, that will be pars on each of the par-5 holes today. When was the last time we could say that about him? I'll try to find out.
JasonSobel:  Ernie Els still owns the sweetest swing in the game. The reason he hasn't contended on a more consistent basis is because his putter just isn't reliable anymore.

Falling apart late much like Ross Fisher did in Round 3, Els has now made two straight bogeys and is playing the final hole at 4-under.
JasonSobel:  New clubhouse leader (for now), as Y.E. Yang ties Tiger Woods' tournament-best score of 5-under 67 and will enter the final round at 6-under-par.

Depending on what Padraig Harrington does here on the last two holes, Yang could find himself in the final pairing. If Paddy plays 'em in even-par or better, he'll be playing with Woods; if he plays 'em in 1-over or worse, it will be Yang.
JasonSobel:  After knocking one down the fairway from the bunker, Tiger leaves one on the front of the green, some 40-50 feet from the hole on 15.

Usually when TW is that far from the hole on a par-5, he's putting for eagle. This time, he'll have it for birdie.
JasonSobel:  Tiger two-putts from there for par. And that means four pars on the par-5s today.

Still trying to find the last time he did that on a par-72 course.
Which part of his game will Tiger Woods need to improve upon from Round 3 to Round 4 in order to win?
Driving accuracy
 ( 28% )
Iron Play
 ( 55% )
 ( 17% )

JasonSobel:  A weather warning has just been posted here at the course. Not a delay, just a warning -- looks like there is some lightning off in the distance.
JasonSobel:  Ernie Els just made a mess of things down the stretch.

After getting to 6-under, the Big Difficult finished bogey-bogey-bogey to 70 after looking for most of the day like he could seriously be in contention.

He's currently 5 shots off the pace.
JasonSobel:  Padraig Harrington makes par on 17 and he's working on a flawless scorecard -- four birdies, 13 pars and no bogeys today.

Dude is so good when he's in contention on the weekend at the majors.
JasonSobel:  In the immortal words of Ollie Williams, "It's gonna rain!"

Might start coming down any minute. With the final group walking down the 16th fairway, it would be a lot cooler if Mother Nature could hold off for another 20 minutes or so.
6:23 [Comment From John ]
Can we get a mea culpa from you (and most other journalists) who assumed that Tiger would roll? I still like his chances tomorrow, but I think everyone has undersold some of the other golfers chasing him.
JasonSobel:  You'll get it tomorrow if he doesn't win. For the record, I never thought he'd roll; instead, I wrote after yesterday's round that I thought he'd play conservative golf and just cruise to a title, always keeping the competitors at arm's length. Never expected it to get this close, though. That said, don't just blame the journalists; you'd be hard-pressed to find other players, fans, anyone who would have said they didn't like Tiger's to win with a 4-stroke advantage after Round 3.
JasonSobel:  After hitting his approach shot left of the green on 16, Tiger chips to within a few feet. Should be a fairly easy par putt from there to stay at 8-under-par.
JasonSobel:  Padraig Harrington hitting into the final hole ... it hits the back of the green and winds up in the rough.

If he gets up and down, he'll play with Tiger once again tomorrow. If not, it's Y.E. Yang's time to be in the spotlight.
6:29 [Comment From Delta ]
Wouldn't it almost be better for Padraig not to play with Tiger? Say what you will about how he handles the pressure...Round 3 was his best round in his last 4...and it doesn't take a genius to figure out what the difference is.
JasonSobel:  Nah, I'm not buying it. Besides, at this point he needs all the strokes he can get. Doesn't want to give one up here on 18, whether it means playing with Tiger or not.

Remember: Last week at Firestone, Paddy was hanging with Tiger for 15 holes before being put on the clock. I don't think playing with Woods rattled him by any means; it was tourney official John Paramor who got into his head.
JasonSobel:  Tiger cleans up for par on 16. Two holes to play.

In related news, there's a chalk outline of Vijay Singh out here at Hazeltine somewhere.

In a chip that was reminiscent of Kenny Perry on the final hole at Augusta this past April, Padraig Harrington just bladed one well past the hole on 18.

He'll have a meaty putt of about 30 feet coming back for par.

JasonSobel:  Harrington misses the lengthy comebacker and that will be his first bogey since this hole yesterday for a third-round 69.

He'll drop to 6-under and likely paired with Henrik Stenson in the penultimate group tomorrow.
JasonSobel:  Tiger hates his tee shot on the par-3 17th, but it's really not too bad.

He pulled it a little and leaves about 40 feet for birdie.
JasonSobel:  For the record, in 11 par-3 holes this week prior to the 17th, Tiger has 10 birdies and a bogey -- that one coming when he missed the 3-footer on No. 4 earlier today.
6:37 [Comment From Michael ]
Unless Tiger has a couple of birdies in his final two holes, his scores will have gotten progressively worse as the tournament has gone on. At this point in his career do you think it is nerves, lack of concentration or a worsening level of play? Are you worried that with a three-shot lead he has not put the field safely behind him in the rearview mirror?
JasonSobel:  Look, it wasn't exactly a thing of beauty, but Tiger is likely going to shoot under par and own a multiple-stroke lead going into the final round.

No, he didn't go out and blitz the field, taking a double-digit lead, but he doesn't do that anymore. Ever. His five wins this year have been by a combined 10 strokes. He's become happier with playing conservative golf and winning than trying to put more distance between himself and the field. Not really a bad tactic, if you look at the results.
JasonSobel:  Tiger indeed two-putts on 17 to remain at 8-under for the tournament, 1-under for the round.

He's gone par-bogey on the final hole in the previous two rounds.
JasonSobel:  Padraig Harrington just spoke with CBS after the round ...

On his round today: "I holed a few putts, so I was feeling good about things until the very end. ... It was a disappointing way to finish."

On not being paired with Tiger tomorrow: "You're better off being paired with Tiger, that's for sure. It's nice to keep an eye on him and see what's happening."

JasonSobel:  By the way, nice to see those putting tips I gave Vijay Singh are really paying off today.
JasonSobel:  Interesting that more than half of you believe Tiger most needs to improve his iron play.

I'm impressed. Most neophyte fans would go driving accuracy or putting, but I think you guys have nailed it -- if he can figure out his distance control, he'll be much better off tomorrow.
JasonSobel:  So much for needing to improve that distance control. Tiger pures one to pin-high on 18, will have about 6 feet for birdie from there.
JasonSobel:  Here is some of what Y.E. Yang had to say after his round ...

On having beaten Tiger in the past: "You never know in the world of sports and the game of golf. So just try to make every shot, just focus on every shot that I have. And then tomorrow I may end up inside the top 10, top 3 and even win the PGA Championship. You never know. And that experience would certainly help."

On the difference between him and Tiger: "He's won 70 times now. I've only won once, so it's sort of 70-to-1 odds. Yeah, might as well go for broke."
JasonSobel:  Tiger for birdie on the final hole ... and he slides it by.

Based on a lot of your comments, that may have been the most disappointing round of 71 in the history of golf. Really, Woods had two highlights today -- the tight approach on No. 2 and the chip-in on No. 14.

I don't think he made a putt of more than 4 feet all day. Seriously. Woods' putts made in total feet may not be more than 50 feet or so.
6:56 [Comment From Paul ]
Did you ever find out when (if?) Tiger last played par on all par 5s?
JasonSobel:  Not on a par-72 course with four par-5s. (It's happened a bunch of times on par-70s with only two chances.) I can tell you that in his career, Tiger Woods has never once made par on all four holes in one round of a PGA Championship at a par-72 course.
6:57 [Comment From Jim ]
71-71 will NOT win...he has got to be in the 60s tommorrow
JasonSobel:  Well, let's break it down ...

If Woods shoots 71 tomorrow, Yang and/or Harrington could beat him with a 68, which is certainly possible. Henrik Stenson and Lucas Glover are each at 4-under and would need to shoot 66. Not sure that score is out here -- no one has posted it yet this week.
JasonSobel:  One note on Tiger making par on all the par-5s: He last did it in the final round of the 2008 Masters.
JasonSobel:  Tiger speaking to CBS after his round: "Just trying to be very patient out there. ... I played conservatively today. I was lag putting a lot, the only putt I really missed was the 3-footer."

Woods said he was "pleased" with his round. Asked if he would have taken a 2-stroke 54-hole lead coming into the week, he said, "Absolutely."

You might not have been wowed by Tiger's third-round performance today, but I expect something very similar tomorrow. He always picks out a number that he thinks he needs to shoot in order to win the tournament. I'm guessing tomorrow's number is 69, which really isn't far from what he did today.

Take out that missed 3-footer on No. 4 and give him the putt on 18 and he's pretty close. Granted, you could say that about anybody in the field, but Tiger's game plan is still intact.

Expect another conservative round on Sunday. He's not going to shoot 64 and win this thing by 8, but he'll do whatever it takes to bring home the trophy.

In many ways, he's a more dominant player now than when he was winning majors by double digits. When he's in the lead now, there's no beating him.
JasonSobel:  Funniest tweet of the day goes to Geoff Ogilvy, who might be the most cerebral dude in the game ...
Twittergeoffogilvy:  I got the moving day thing worked out.....I just forgot which way to move

Nice of Mother Nature to hold off on that rain. It's pouring right now here at Hazeltine. Rain means softer greens, which in turn means lower scores, which then means Tiger might need to amend his target score.

He'll never say what that score is, but I'm sticking with 69. If he sees a lot of guys going low before him, it could change on the range.
7:20 [Comment From Bob Ricker ]
For as long a we've watched Tiger - most still do not get his strategies. He missed perhaps 2 shots that he should have had - but his strategy for today was ONLY to maintain his lead, whether it be by 4, 3 2 or 1 stroke(s) - he plays to whatever he needs to do to win. Most of the other golfers who had very good rounds today - took some chances and it paid - Tiger took zero chances - it will be a different story tomorrow if things get tight - then Tiger shows why he is Tiger - Tiger will win by 3 strokes over Paddy again.
JasonSobel:  Well said. It's all about not taking chances and not making any unforced errors. This is why he's so good with the lead. Prevent defense? Maybe, but it doesn't prevent him from winning.
7:21 [Comment From Jon from VA ]
But what if someone shoots a 64 in front of Tiger tomorrow and forces him to shoot at 66 or a 67 to win?
JasonSobel:  That's a pretty big if. It would be three strokes better than the current best score of the week. Of course, if someone did post that number, playing in the final pairing Tiger would have the luxury of watching it unfold in front of him. If, say, Henrik Stenson shoots 64 to finish at 12-under, Tiger will know he needs to go low by midway through his round.

But really -- there won't be a 64 tomorrow.

For the record, Woods and Yang have played in the same tournament on nine previous occasions this season. Surprise, surprise -- TW has beaten him every time. Here's the breakdown of their results  ...

CA Championship: TW -- T-9; YEY -- 74

Masters: TW -- T-6; YEY -- MC

Quail Hollow Championship: TW -- 4; YEY -- 11

Players Championship: TW -- 8; YEY -- MC

Memorial Tournament: TW -- Win; YEY -- T-41

AT&T National: TW -- Win; YEY -- T-22

Buick Open: TW -- Win; YEY -- 5

Bridgestone Invitational: TW -- Win; YEY -- T-19

Perhaps Y.E. Yang is Tiger's good-luck charm. He's won each of the last four events that they've both played.
JasonSobel:  Thanks for all the questions and comments today. I'll be writing up one more lengthy post in a little while. Back tomorrow afternoon for the final round here at Hazeltine. Until then, hit 'em straight ...


Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor,
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became's golf editor in July 2004.