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Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Rubenstein: Some thoughts on the PGA Championship Add to ...

Some thoughts as the leaders and those near them make their way through the third round of the PGA Championship....

It’s 4:51 PM EDT, and the horn has just blown to pull players off the course. A storm looks about to hit. Lightning is in the area.

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Tiger Woods is a different player than he was in the first two rounds, when he shot 68-71 to tie for the lead at the halfway mark. His putting has been mediocre, his ball-striking hasn’t been at sharp, and, well, he’s obviously out of sorts. That said, he’s made a couple of swings that would warrant a high score from judges were he doing an athletic routine in the Olympics. He’s contorted his body a few times to make swings from the rough. Tiger is three-over par through seven holes, and has missed into a hollow right of the eighth green. He’s tied for 11th now, standing at one-under par for the championship and five shots behind leaders Rory McIlroy and Vijay Singh.

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McIlroy has been playing terrific golf, and showing the steadfastness that wins majors.  Sure, he bogied the ninth hole, but he’d birdied five of the first eight holes. He made an all-world par on the third hole after his tee shot there lodged inside the limb of a dead tree in the middle of the fairway. Just because it was in the middle of the fairway didn’t mean the tee shot was where it should have been, to be sure. McIlroy could have been upset, but he picked his ball from the hole in the tree, took a penalty drop, hit his third shot within about 10’ of the hole, and saved his par. He’d started the round with two birdies, so the par out of the tree was a momentum-builder. Great stuff from the 23-year-old with so much talent.

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Adam Scott is bouncing back big-time so far from blowing the four-shot lead he held with four holes to play in last month’s Open Championship. I wrote about him after his second round, when he finished with 75 in the high winds and treacherous Ocean course. Scott was four shots out of the lead starting the third round. He’s just started the back nine after shooting four-under 32 on the front, and is one shot from the lead. Scott looks calm, he’s making putts, and he’s hitting super shots one after the other. I loved the 7-iron he hit all over the flag on the par-three fifth hole within a few feet of the hole. That birdie and the three straight birdies he made to finish the front nine provide at least a hint that he’s not shying away from getting right back into the mix at a major after messing up at the previous one. Hey, isn’t that what McIlroy did when he took a four-shot lead into the last round of the 2011 Masters, shot 80, and then won the U.S. Open two months later by eight shots?

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Singh is playing with Woods, and he’s playing the sort of solid golf that should give him confidence when play resumes. He’s two-under through seven holes and tied with McIlroy for the lead. Singh is 49 and he would be the oldest player to win a major were he to come through. His swing looks fluid and as long as ever, a testament to how well he’s kept himself in shape. Will his nerves hold up? So far, so good.

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I hope the play resumes today and that they get the third round in. The PGA Championship has a way of producing exciting stuff all the way to the final hole. Remember Bob May and Tiger Woods in 2000? Martin Kaymer, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson in 2010? Keegan Bradley storming over Jason Dufner last year? I expect more of the same, which would be a good thing. Drama at “glory’s last shot,” as the PGA of America refers to its biggest tournament, seems the usual fare.

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Speaking of “glory’s last shot,” the phrase doesn’t scan. It should be “last shot at glory.” Just saying. I know it doesn’t sound as smart, doesn’t play as well, but hey, what’s wrong with being right when it comes to using the English language? As I say, just saying.

 

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