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  1. #1
    A major test for Woods as he tries to protect No. 1
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    Doug Ferguson / Associated Press
    Posted: 16 hours ago

    HAVEN, Wis. (AP) - Tiger Woods stared down the fairway on the 569-yard 16th hole at Whistling Straits, with Lake Michigan looming large on the left. He looked over his shoulder at Ernie Els, who was 20 yards behind him and waiting for the green to clear on the par-3 12th hole, which hugs the right side of the lake.

    It was a fitting scene Tuesday morning at the PGA Championship.


    Whistling Straits is the third links course to host a major tournament this year. Take a photo tour of golf's newest venue.

    Take a photo tour

    Woods and Els - No. 1 and 2 in the world - were standing on the same tee box, headed in opposite directions.

    The majors used to be Woods' private domain. He won seven out of 11 through the 2002 U.S. Open to build such a huge lead that it looked like he would never lose his No. 1 ranking.

    Woods comes into the PGA Championship having gone nine consecutive majors without winning, and he could lose his No. 1 ranking for the first time in five years.

    "It's never easy to win a major championship," Woods said. "I think all of you guys realize that now."

    At the other end of the spectrum is Els, who has finished in the top 10 in his last four majors and was on the cusp of winning the first three this year. He arrived at Whistling Straits with his third chance at a major this year to replace Woods at No. 1, needing at least a runner-up finish at the PGA.

    "I've got to try and play as well as I can and take care of this week and see what happens after that," Els said. "But it will be great."

    Woods hammered his drive down the right side of the 16th fairway. Els hit a crisp 7-iron just over a knobby bunker to within 15 feet of the pin at No. 12.

    Then, they walked to the back of the tee to shake hands and get down to business.

    "What the do you do on No. 11?" Els asked him. "Go for the green in two?"

    No matter where they are in the world ranking and what they've done in the majors, everyone faces the same dilemma this week at the longest course (7,514 yards) in major championship history. :shock

    Every player is trying to figure out how to navigate Whistling Straits in wind that can blow so hard that Woods and Els both ripped drivers on No. 18 - a 500-yard par 4 - and still needed a 3-wood to reach the green.

    For Woods, this could be the ultimate test.

    One reason his game has slipped to a mortal level this year is his driving. He is 167th on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy, his lowest ranking since turning pro eight years ago.

    Whistling Straits is no place to keep the driver in the bag.

    "Considering most of the par 4s are nearly 500 yards, yeah," Woods said when asked if he would use his driver more at the PGA Championship than he did the other three majors. "The par 5s are about 600 yards. I might use it on a couple of par 3s, as well. The golf course is set up (where) you can use driver quite a bit."

    Woods switched to a new driver in early July with a large club head (410cc) with a graphite shaft, and he has been pleased with the results. In fact, Woods is hard-pressed to find much wrong with his game, except the number of trophies (one) on his mantle.

    He has had chances to win his last three tournaments, and settled for top 10s in all of them, including a tie for ninth last month in the British Open.

    Still, his performance in the majors has been lacking.

    Since his victory at Bethpage Black in 2002, Woods has had his worst finish in all four of the majors - a tie for 22nd at the Masters this year, a tie for 20th at the U.S. Open last year, a tie for 28th at the '02 British Open, and a tie for 39th at the PGA Championship last year at Oak Hill.

    Suddenly, Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 professional majors no longer looks so close.

    And all those guys chasing Woods no longer seem so far away.

    Vijay Singh is a four-time winner on the PGA Tour this year and leads the money list. He also can move to No. 1 in the world, although it would require a victory at Whistling Straits and Woods missing the cut.

    Phil Mickelson is No. 4 in the world and No. 1 in the majors this year, having won the Masters and missing out on a chance to win the U.S. and British Opens by one putt on the back nine of each. Mickelson has a chance to become the first player to finish in the top 3 in all four majors since the Masters began in 1934.

    Lefty was asked if anyone would ever dominate the majors like Woods.

    "I don't think anybody thought there would be another player to dominate the way Nicklaus did in the majors, and then along came Tiger. So, I certainly would not rule it out," Mickelson said. "I would expect it to happen again. I don't know if it will be Tiger again - it very well could be. I don't know if it will be another player of today's crop or if it will come later on down the line.

    "If nobody plays at that level, it's a much more packed leaderboard."

    Woods says he can feel his game turning the corner, and his tie for third at the Buick Open two weeks ago seems to indicate that. Then again, Singh won the Buick by playing better golf and making more putts.

    "Yes, he looks good," Padraig Harrington said of Woods. "He looks like he's coming back. There's a lot of other good players who are capable of competing with him."

    Woods is only concerned with the biggest star of the week - Whistling Straits, which might have everyone's number by the end of the week and could send tee shots in any number of directions.

  2. #2

    This bunker on #11 is 16 ft deep.:shock

    I would shoot a freaking 100 on this course.

  3. #3

    Look at this approach sot on #18 a 500 yd par 4....Daaamn

  4. #4
    Should be a great tournament. It's the toughest PGA Championship course I've seen.

  5. #5
    There are 1400 sand traps on this course...that is sick.

  6. #6
    That course is a piece of cake.

  7. #7
    That course is a piece of cake.

    Yeah, with strychnine laced through out.:p

  8. #8
    A major mystery awaits at Whistling Straits
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    Doug Ferguson / Associated Press
    Posted: 8 hours ago

    HAVEN, Wis. (AP) - Already billed as a major full of mystery, the PGA Championship got another surprise Wednesday.


    The first round of the PGA Championship tees off at 8 a.m. ET Thursday morning. Follow our leaderboard right here for all the action.

    Ben Curtis pulled a ski cap over his ears - common attire in Wisconsin, just not in the middle of summer. As Steve Lowery walked up to the 18th green, his frosty breath was visible with every step. The most popular place was next to the fireplace inside the locker room.

    The frozen tundra of Whistling Straits?

    Not quite, but temperatures in the low 50s approached the record low (48 degrees) set 50 years ago for this date.

    It was just another reminder that players have no idea what to expect when the 86th PGA Championship gets under way Thursday on a course that is the longest (7,514 yards) in major championship history and one of the newest (opened in 1998) to stage a major.

    No one is willing to guess what kind of score it will take to win, although any of the 156 players would gladly take anything under par - or even par, for that matter.

    Someone asked Sergio Garcia if he would like to be at even-par 288 by the end of the week.

    "Yes," he replied. "And I'll win by four."

    The defending champion is Shaun Micheel. The hottest player in the majors is Phil Mickelson. The curiosity centers on Tiger Woods, who has not won in the last nine majors. Ernie Els has a chance to become No. 1 in the world.

    But everyone is on equal footing at Whistling Straits, if that's even possible considering the sand dunes and moonscape turf on the links-style course along Lake Michigan.

    "I think it adds to the suspense," Davis Love III said. "It might be good for the experienced players because they say, 'Hey, we don't know what's going to happen, so we're just going to go play and not have any target score or expectations in our head.' Just go play and do the best you can."

    Then again, Love spoke at length with his shrink to get ready for the week.

    "I've talked to Bob Rotella a lot about that," he said. "How do you approach an unknown like this? Do you throw par away? It is going to be an unknown and a mental test."

    The only easy part about the week is finding a winner.

    "If I had to predict, it would be somebody that's been around a lot of big tournaments, and also has the total package," Love said. "You don't have to hit it long, but you have to hit it solidly in this wind. You have to be a pretty good shotmaker, and then you're also going to have to chip and putt and scramble really well."

    Is that all?

    "That's not asking much," he said with a smile. "That's why majors are hard to win."

    Some of the answers will be available Thursday, when the first round begins under a 30 percent threat of rain with highs in the mid-60s. The forecast for the tournament is not nearly reliable as the weather.

    Woods was asked if there was any one hole that concerned him.

    "No," he said. "There's 18 of them."

    That uncertainty is what awaits the final major of the year, where the course is a greater focus than any one player. Still, several story lines are expected to unfold.

    Mickelson finally has the majors all figured out, researching every course as if he were studying for a final exam. He played three practice rounds at Whistling Straits last week, taking almost nine hours to play one of them so he could chart when to attack and where not to miss.

    No one can argue with the results. He won the Masters for his breakthrough major. A three-putt double bogey from 5 feet left him two shots behind in the U.S. Open, and he missed out of the British Open playoff by one shot.

    "I'm three shots away from having the Grand Slam," Mickelson said. "I think about that, but I don't dwell on it. I'm constantly thinking of how to salvage a half a shot here or there. I've been able to do that well this year, but had I been able to do it just a little bit better, it could have been an incredible year."

    It's already been great, and another major would clinch player-of-the-year honors for Lefty.

    If Els finishes second, he could leave Whistling Straits for a strait jacket. He is two putts away from winning two majors this year - Mickelson made an 18-footer at Augusta, Els missed a 12-footer at Royal Troon on the final hole. Instead, he has been shut out, and the motto for the PGA - "Glory's Last Shot" - takes on a special meaning.

    A victory, however, could return him to No. 1 in the world for the first time in six years.

    Woods still has control of that situation, even though he has lost control off the tee at times.

    This isn't his longest drought in the majors - he went 0-for-10 while working on swing changes in 1998 and finally won the PGA Championship in 1999 at Medinah. Woods sees a lot of similarities - not between Medinah and Whistling Straits, rather the state of his game.

    "The things that are starting to come together, it's very exciting, just like it was back in '98 and '99," he said.

    This also is the last chance to get Ryder Cup points, and because points are only awarded to the top 10 finishers, the closing holes could make all the difference.

    The par-3 17th is 223 yards with no room for error left of the green. There is a 40-foot drop into shaggy grass, some of the 1,400 bunkers and eventually Lake Michigan. The par-4 18th is 500 yards and has played dead into the wind during the practice rounds, so it likely will play as the toughest hole at Whistling Straits.

    Micheel, whose only victory was the PGA Championship last year at Oak Hill, already is edgy about being the defending champion. Having to do it on a course like Whistling Straits doesn't help.

    "No one has an advantage here," Micheel said. "It's unlike anything we've played before. So, there's a little apprehension in that respect."

  9. #9
    I am going to Woods to win. Phil to be 2nd, Daly to take 3rd and Els to be 4th. Jerry Kelly could finish in top 3 and thus make the Ryder Cup team as well.

  10. #10
    T Park Num 9
    someone who is a no name will win.

    The conditions always hel out the lesser players, so that they come to the front, actually win.

    5 Over will win this tourney.

  11. #11
    So far Woods is gagging. 2-over through 7.

  12. #12
    Frumious Bandersnatch RandomGuy's Avatar
    San Marcos
    Post Count
    NBA Team
    San Antonio Spurs
    Oh how the mighty have fallen.

  13. #13
    A neverending cycle Trainwreck2100's Avatar
    Post Count
    NBA Team
    San Antonio Spurs
    Texas Longhorns
    tiger's on number 344 tbqh

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