One hole reverses Woods' fortunes in PGA

LOUISVILLE - Tiger Woods was in control and the rest of the field was on the verge of battling it out for second place. No big surprise there.

Then came the 12th hole.

Suddenly on Saturday, the PGA Championship became more than just another coronation for the world's best golfer.

Woods was 4 under for the day and three strokes ahead of his closest pursuer as he stepped to the tee at the 467-yard, par-4 hole, a slight dogleg to the right that narrows in the driving area. The second shot requires a long flight over a deep valley in front of the green, which is surrounded by bunkers.

Woods pulled his 3-wood driver left and ended up in the heavy rough between the tree line and the fairway. Standing behind his ball, he could see the right edge of the green. His approach needed to dive low out of the rough and between two trees.

''I hit an 8-iron short of the green, which was what I wanted,'' Woods said.

Woods shot flew between the trees, over the valley and ended up in the dense, 9-inch long grass on the slope in front of the green. He chopped a sand wedge under the ball and it rolled 12 feet past the hole.

''I hit a good pitch, but it checked up,'' he said. ''It actually left a ball mark.''

Meanwhile, playing partner Scott Dunlap followed the conventional path on the hole. His drive was long and in the fairway and his 5-iron from 208 yards landed in the heart of the hilly green, 6 feet from the hole.

Trying to save his par, Woods' putt just missed the left corner of the hole and rolled 2 feet past. He sized up his second putt carefully, but pushed the comebacker past on the right side.

The crowd groaned.

''I hit a good third putt,'' Woods joked. ''I knocked it in.''

Dunlap then holed his birdie putt, picking up three shots on one hole. As the players went to No. 13, both were at 12 under. Not only had Dunlap pulled even with Woods, but players five and six shots off the pace found themselves back in the chase.

''At that time I was pretty disappointed because I had missed some pretty makable putts,'' Dunlap said. ''That double bogey-birdie swing rectified all that in a way. I kind of felt like I got let off the hook.''

The 12th has been the hardest hole at the Valhalla Golf Club this week. It has yielded just 38 birdies, compared with 109 bogeys and 25 double bogeys. Woods had abruptly become a part of those negative statistics.

Woods would stumble again with a bogey at the 15th hole, but regrouped with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 closing hole. That was enough for him to regain the lead by a stroke over Dunlap and Bob May.

But the 12th had done its damage, turning another Woods rout into a test.

''I know tomorrow's going to be quite a challenge,'' Woods said. ''There are a lot of guys with a good chance to win. Fortunately I'm still one of them.''


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment