Tiger Two Strokes Up Heading Into Final Day At PGA Championship

By  | 

CHASKA, Minn. — Tiger Woods is the sole leader going into the final round of the PGA Championship, two shots ahead of defending champion Padraig Harrington and Y.E. Yang.

Woods, who shot a 1-under 71 Saturday, is looking to win his first major of the year and 15th overall. He is 36-1 when he has the lead going into the final round, 14-0 at the majors.

Woods is at 8-under 208. Harrington, who had a share of the lead with five holes to go, bogeyed 18 and is at 210. Yang will play with Woods on Sunday; he beat the world's No. 1 player at the HSBC Champions in China in 2006.

Manageable playing conditions and a so-so outing by Woods allowed other players to make a charge. But just like Friday, Woods made shots when he had to and the others fell away.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

CHASKA, Minn. (AP) — Well, this has a familiar feel.

Tiger Woods and defending champion Padraig Harrington were battling for the top of the leaderboard at the PGA Championship again Saturday, as favorable conditions and a so-so outing by the world's No. 1 allowed others to make a charge. Woods was back in the lead after rolling in a 25-footer on the par-4 14th. He roared and gave a big fist pump after the ball dropped in, his first birdie since the second hole.

Woods is at 8 under, one better than when he started the day. Y.E. Yang is two strokes behind Woods, and the group at 4 under includes Ernie Els.

Harrington and Woods have been practically inseparable the last week. They dueled at Bridgestone last weekend, then were paired together in the first two rounds at Hazeltine National. Woods got the better of the Irishman, taking what looked like a commanding four-stroke lead after 36 holes.

Woods is 8-0 in majors when he's the 36-hole leader. He hasn't lost a 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour in five years, and that was when he was revamping his swing.

"In fairness to Tiger, that's not going to last forever. Maybe he'll be 60 when it's broken, but it's not going to last forever," Harrington said Friday. "Maybe I'll be the guy who does it. I suppose that's the way to look at it."

He was doing his best Saturday.

Despite the ominous clouds that hung over Hazeltine National most of the day, conditions were far more manageable than they were Friday. The wind is more breezy than gusty, and it's cooler — almost pleasant, really — than it was the first three days.

"The weather's fine. It's just windy," said Steve Flesch, who had seven birdies on his way to a 3-under 69.

Harrington, playing two groups ahead of Woods and Vijay Singh, birdied two of the first three par-5s, and made a 20-footer on No. 8 to get back within a stroke. When he drained his 20-foot birdie putt on the 14th, he and Woods were sharing the top spot once again.

Woods, meanwhile, doesn't look like the same player he was the first two days, when he threatened to run away with his first major of the year — and 15th overall. His irons lack their usual precision, and he's hasn't been as accurate off the tee (his drive on No. 1 found the left rough again). His putting stroke has been off, too.

He also hasn't caught the breaks all players need when they're trying to win a major. With a short putt for par on the fourth hole, his ball dropped halfway in the cup and rolled around the rim. Instead of falling, it popped back out. The crowd groaned and Woods started in disbelief.

It was his first bogey on a par-3 this week.

Even the birdie on 14 that put him back in the lead came after a bad shot. The 14th is a short par 4, and Woods' tee shot landed just off the green. He hit his chip shot way too hard and the ball sprinted clear across to the other side.

Phil Mickelson, who has played sparingly this summer as his wife and mother battle breast cancer and made the cut on the number, had another rough day with a 4-over 76 that left him at 8 over. He bogeyed his first three par-5s — including the No. 3 for a second straight day — opened the back nine with three straight bogeys and made just one birdie.

"It's frustrating for me to not be in contention on the weekend of a major," Mickelson said. "But that's motivation for me to work hard."