Tiger Woods posted runaway wins at the U.S. and British Opens this year, but Bob May and Scott Dunlap are doing their best to thwart Woods’ bid to win a third straight major.
Woods began today’s round of the PGA Championship one stroke ahead of playing partner Dunlap but couldn’t widen that gap after a double bogey on the 12th hole and a bogey on 15. Woods’ birdie on 18 gave him a bit of breathing room from the surging pack.
“There’s no sense in getting angry and losing it,” Woods said at the conclusion of the third round today. “There’s still lots of golf left to play.”
The world’s No. 1 player stood at 13-under 203, one stroke ahead of both Dunlap, the little-known Pittsburgh native who tied Woods after round one, and May.
May, winner of the 1999 Victor Chadler British Masters, made a spectacular run today, shooting a 6-under 66.
J.P. Hayes shot a 4-under 68 today to finish two strokes off the lead. Australian Greg Chalmers was one stroke further back, setting up a dramatic ending to the four-day tournament at Valhalla Country Club.
Another Historic Finish?
Woods, who at 24 is already the youngest player to win a career Grand Slam, is attempting to join Ben Hogan as the only players in history to win three professional majors in one season.
He won last year’s PGA at Medinah Country Club in Illinois by a single stroke over teen sensation Sergio Garcia — after blowing a five-shot lead on the back nine.
Woods’ one-stroke advantage at the start of play today was more tenuous than the leads he had in winning this year’s U.S. and British Opens. He was six shots ahead at Pebble Beach, where he won by 15 shots, and three clear of the field at St. Andrews, where he finished eight ahead.
“I must be getting old,” Woods quipped when those numbers were pointed out to him. “I’m going downhill — six, three, one.”
Ideal playing conditions today at Valhalla Country Club — after days of heat, humidity and rain — raised the bar of play as players attempted to deny Woods the fifth major title of his young career.
Also making a significant move today was Jose Maria Olazabal, who tied the lowest score ever in a major tournament with a 9-under 63. He finished the day at 9-under 207, four strokes off the lead.
Olazabal, even par to start the third round and 11 strokes behind Woods, had a chance to break the record until his approach into the par-5 18th landed on the wrong side of a ridge. He two-putted from about 35 feet for par.
The two-time Masters champion is the 19th player to record a 63 in a major, and the first since Greg Norman, who did it in the first round of the 1996 Masters.
The last player to shoot 63 in the PGA Championship was Brad Faxon, in the final round at Riviera in 1995.
More than tying a record, however, Olazabal gave himself a chance to win the PGA Championship.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.