TIGER fails to make move at the PGA Championship


Saturday, August 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



DULUTH, Georgia (AP) _ Tiger Woods made the cut at the PGA Championship in dramatic fashion. He couldn't follow up Saturday.

Despite holing an eagle from the fairway at No. 9, Woods managed only a 1-under-par 69 and was eight strokes behind leaders David Toms and Shingo Katayama, still a couple of hours from teeing off.

Woods, who needed two long putts Friday just to reach the weekend, closed the third round with back-to-back bogeys at sweltering Atlanta Athletic Club. That left him with virtually no chance to win his second major of the year.

The largest final-round comeback at the PGA Championship was by John Mahaffey, who came from seven behind to win in 1978.

Woods missed a 90-centimeter (3-foot) putt to save par at No. 14, then had two more bogeys coming in. He three-putted the 17th and a poor chip cost him another stroke at the last hole.

``I felt like I was actually swinging better,'' said Woods, who had a 1-under 209 total on the par-70 course. ``I figured if I could get 3- or 4-under on the back nine, I would be back in the tournament. I was not able to do it.''

Woods was even par as he went to the ninth, having made two bogeys and two birdies. On the left side of the fairway, 100 meters (110 yards) from a pin stationed on the right side of the green, Woods knocked a sand wedge into the cup on one hop.

He made another birdie with a two-putt on the par-5 12th, getting to 3-under for the first time in the tournament, but couldn't take advantage.

Now, the focus shifts to players such as Phil Mickelson and David Duval, positioned much higher than Woods.

Mickelson was one shot back after consecutive 66s, again putting himself in contention for his first major title. Duval, riding the momentum of winning the British Open, had just three strokes to make up on Toms and Katayama, tied at the top after record-tying 131s.

With four holes remaining Friday, Woods wasn't concerned about the winning score. He was 2 over and facing the possibility of having to watch the second half of the tournament on television.

The final four is the toughest stretch of holes on the Highlands Course. When Woods got to 15, the projected cut was wavering between par and 1 over, so he knew he would need at least one birdie, maybe two.

By Tiger's standard, Woods' game has been in shambles this summer. He has _ gasp! _ gone a couple of majors without winning, finishing in a tie for 12th at the U.S. Open and a disappointing 25th at the British.

Somehow, Woods summoned two more shots for the ages _ even if they probably won't have anything to do with winning the tournament. Just off the 15th green, he rammed in a 12-meter (40-foot) putt that provided the first birdie. At the 16th, he made a 9-meter (30-foot) putt.

As it turned out, the cut was 1-over 141. Woods shot a 67 to bring his two-day total to 140, clinching an early Saturday tee time with an approach that easily cleared the water on the 446-meter (490-yard) closing hole.

Duval, who played with Woods on Friday, was impressed with his rival's resilience.

``I don't know how concerned he was,'' Duval said. ``We had some tough holes facing us. You don't think about making the cut too much and then all of a sudden you've got four holes left that are hard and you better make some birdies. That's tough.''

Lost in the hoopla over Woods making the cut was more record scores on a steamy day outside Atlanta, where the heat index neared 38 degrees C (100 degrees F) and players draped towels over their shoulders so they could wipe the sweat off their faces.

Fifty players broke par on greens that are not firm enough to get dangerous.

Katayama, a 28-year-old from Japan with a white cowboy hat, birdied the last two holes for a 64. Toms had a 65 to join him at 9 under, the 131 tying a tournament record for 36 holes last set by Ernie Els at Riviera in 1995.

Even 44-year-old Mark O'Meara joined the act. He became the oldest of 20 players to tie the major championship record of 63.

Mickelson, the best player never to win a major, was joined at 132 by Bob Estes, who had a 66. Three strokes back were a half-dozen players, including Duval (68) and two-time U.S. Open champion Els (67).

O'Meara was at 135, four shots off the lead.

``I feel comfortable in this situation, being here a number of times now,'' Mickelson said. ``However, having not won one, there could be doubts that creep in. That's something I'm overcoming now. I would very much love to win.''

Toms came into the PGA Championship in 14th place in the Ryder Cup standings. He no longer is motivated solely by making his first team.

``I'm playing well enough right now where I can win this golf tournament,'' said Toms, whose five PGA Tour victories include a come-from-behind win over Mickelson in New Orleans this year.

Katayama made seven birdies, including the last two holes, and is the first Asian player to be in the lead halfway through a major since T.C. Chen in the 1985 U.S. Open.

``I would like to take a picture of the leaderboard,'' Katayama said.

Duval survived a tough day with the putter, heading straight to the practice green after his round. He did make a 30-footer on No. 15 that came right after Woods holed his critical putt.

``It's hard to speculate on what score will be needed to win,'' Duval said. ``As long as it's mine, I'm fine.''