TULSA, Okla. - It was Tiger Woods' world Friday at the PGA Championship, and and all everyone else could do was watch in amazement and wait to see if the record books and leaderboard would be safe.
Woods fired an astonishing 63 in withering heat here at a very difficult Southern Hills Country Club course, coming excruciating close to setting a major championship record when his 15-foot putt at No. 18 lipped out.
"Evidently, it didn't want to go in," Woods said afterward, with a shrug.
There have been 21 rounds of 63 rung up in majors golf championships, but never a 62.
Woods, being a student of the game's history, said he was aware of the record, and certainly wanted it, but didn't seem to be as worked up about it as the huge crowd that watched on the 18th green.
"It would have been a nice, little record to have," Woods said. "It would have been a three-stroke lead. I was just trying to get myself back in the tournament."
Woods' domineering performance put him in command of the 89th PGA Championship, in which he poured in eight birdies to go with a single bogey. He now leads Scott Verplank, with whom he will be paired tomorrow, by two strokes, and Jeff Ogilvy and Stephen Ames by three.
It was a round for the ages on a course that supposedly was a Tiger-tamer, though Woods doesn't buy into that characterization. There were any number of Tiger moments: a great par save on No. 12 after being buried in a bunker, chipping in for birdie from off the green, the 15-foot, downhill birdie putt on No. 15 and an 186-yard 8-iron out of the bunker to the green.
The 63 tied the course record set by Raymond Floyd in 1982.
It's only halfway through the tournament, but consider this: The leader or co/leader at this point at all six majors here at Southern Hills have gone on to win the tournament.
More relevant perhaps is that there is also Woods' ability to hold a lead, especially in big tournaments; he's 7-0 in majors in which he's led after 36 holes.
"I guess that is kind of ominous," said Ogilvy, who at one point was tied with Woods. "But, at some point, he's not going to win."
Indeed, it is an exceedingly deep field - 97 of the world's top 100 players are here, the second-highest in world ranking history, behind only the 2002 PGA Championship at Hazeltine.
It was a day in which the cream rose to the top, as expected, and then the crème de la crème rose to the top. Woods and Ogilvy made birdie to overtake Verplank within seconds of each other, then Woods pulled away down the stretch on the way to his near record-breaking day.
A total of 72 players made the cut at 5-over and will play this weekend.
Verplank was the story of the day until Woods' dramatics, firing a 66 which many believed would earn him sold possession of first place heading into the weekend.
"I hit the ball yesterday and today as well as I've ever hit it," said Verplank, who has a strong, local following.
John Daly, the first-round leader and fan favorite, had a rough time with both the heat and the course, starting off with two straight bogeys, but managed a 73 to keep himself at even par.
August 11, 2007
Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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