Notebook: European leader Howell tweaks his shoulder

David Howell hopes to be healthy for the Ryder Cup. (Photo: Getty Images)
David Howell hopes to be healthy for the Ryder Cup. (Photo: Getty Images)

Plus, Dean Wilson gets another shot at a World Golf Championship, Billy Mayfair smiles at the end of an eventful week, Ryan Moore snags a top 10 in his first PGA Championship, Tiger Woods gives a shout-out to Michael Jordan, and more.

MEDINAH, Ill. -- A concerned David Howell gave Europe's Ryder Cup camp a worry on Sunday by revealing that he had come close to pulling out of the PGA Championship. With less than five weeks to go to the Ryder Cup, Howell, who leads the points race, crashed to an horrific final-round 82 after suffering a shoulder problem warming up.

"I felt my shoulder on my last few shots on the range and thought nothing of it," he explained. "But it soon became a bit of a problem and I thought about withdrawing with five [holes] to play. I don't like to blame adversity, but clearly it was affecting me."

Howell, who also suffered knee soreness in the third round and has a long history of injuries, is due to the play in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio this coming week.

"I'll go and get treatment," he said. "I should peg it up at least [in the first round on Thursday] because I need to get in my 15 starts" in America, the minimum number to keep his PGA Tour membership. But the more immediate priority, obviously, is the Ryder Cup.

Howell teed off on Sunday at 1-under, but had four bogeys in an outward 40 and then, after a birdie at the long 10th, bogeyed the next, double-bogeyed the short 13th and 392-yard 15th, then bogeyed the 16th and 18th. It left the 31-year-old European Order of Merit leader at 9-over.

Howell also missed two months last year after tearing a stomach muscle and was out for a month after the Masters in April with a back injury.

JORDAN COMPARISONS: The way Tiger Woods dominated this weekend, it was no surprise Michael Jordan's name came up during his news conference. Nor is it shocking that they're friends.

"It was neat to have him, when I came out on tour, befriend me and pull me under his wing and say, 'This is the way life is going to be out here if you achieve the things you want to achieve. These are the things you're going to have to deal with,"' Woods said.

The two occasionally play golf together, and Woods recently got a look at Jordan playing his own game. Jordan was with his son at a basketball tournament in Florida, and he and Woods stepped onto the court.

"M.J. is still M.J.," he said. "He's only [on] about five or 10 minutes now. But the shots he can hit, the fadeaways, the technique, the release, it's just different."

CHANGING PLANS: Dean Wilson's first chance to play at the World Golf Championship was interrupted by the Sept. 11 attacks.

Five years later, he gets another chance.

Wilson qualified last week by beating Tom Lehman in sudden death at The International -- his first PGA Tour victory. So instead of going to the Reno-Tahoe Open, he'll head to Firestone in Akron, Ohio, this week for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

"I was very excited to play in that event and get a feel for it," Wilson said, referring to the 2001 event, then called the WGC-American Express Championship, in St. Louis. "I played a couple practice rounds. Then, 9/11 happened" and the event was cancelled before it started.

This year?

"I'm still excited," Wilson said. "I've played a lot more tournaments. I've got more experience. I've played more majors. Maybe it won't be as huge of an excitement for me. It may be more commonplace, just go out and play the tournament."

Wilson's mother, Grace, was scheduled to watch him play in Reno. Instead, she'll make the trip from Hawaii to Akron.

There will be no casinos, but that won't be a problem for her.

"She's a huge golf fan," Wilson said. "She loves to come out and walk every hole and watch me practice. She's the one who got me started in golf."

A HAPPY MAYFAIR: Even after shooting a 76, Billy Mayfair walked off the course with a smile.

He finished the tournament at 1-under -- not bad considering everything he has gone through. He had cancer surgery just over two weeks ago, and his mother suffered a stroke and heart attack last week.

"It's been a heck of a last couple of weeks," Mayfair said. "My mom's doing good. I talked to her [Saturday] night. She's up and around. She probably doesn't know where she's at, but who does know where we're at? She's doing much better."

RATINGS GAME: Having Tiger Woods in the hunt never hurts the TV ratings.

CBS Sports reported a 4.9 overnight rating with a 12 share for the third round Saturday, up from a 4.4 overnight rating an 11 share in the third round last year at Baltusrol.

The rating is the percentage of all homes with TVs, whether or not they are in use. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

It was the highest rating at the PGA Championship for the third round since 2002 at Hazeltine.

TIGER NOTES: Tiger Woods is now 12-for-12 in major championships when he owns a least a share of the 54-hole lead. Woods has never come from behind to win any of his major championships.

He became the first person to win two PGA Championships at the same venue as he titled at Medinah in 1999.

He moved past Walter Hagen into second on the all-time professional majors list with 12. Woods now trails Jack Nicklaus by six and took almost three years less time to win No. 12. Nicklaus won the 1973 PGA Championship at 33 years and six months. Woods took this title at 30 years and seven months.

He matched his PGA Championship record for lowest score in relation to par with his 18-under-par total. Woods and Bob May were 18-under par at Valhalla in 2000. Woods owns the record for lowest score in relation to par at all four major championships.

He became the 16th player in PGA Championship history to shoot all four rounds in the 60s. The last time that happened was 2001 at Atlanta Athletic Club when David Toms, Phil Mickelson and Steve Lowery all posted four sub-70 rounds.

WAITING FOR MORE: Ryan Moore played in his first major championship as a professional this week and tied for ninth place. He went 67-69 on the weekend to share ninth place at 9-under 279.

BEST GOES LAST: The winner of the PGA Championship has come out of the final group on Sunday for the last 11 years. The last time the winner came from anywhere other than the final group was 1995 when Steve Elkington overcame a six-shot deficit at Riviera.

LOW PGA PROFESSIONALS: The low PGA Professional this week was Don Yrene, who edged Jim Kane by a single shot despite an 8-over 80 on Sunday. The only two club professionals that made the cut finished at the bottom of those players who advanced to the weekend.

ON COURSE: The easiest hole, as it was all week, was the 537-yard, par-5 fifth. For the week, there were eight eagles and 143 birdies and the hole played to a stroke average of 4.49. The most difficult hole for the championship was the 453-yard, par-4 16th. The hole yielded only 33 birdies, but 81 bogeys and 12 doubles or worse. It played to an average of 4.26.

TAKE ME BACK TO TULSA: Next year the PGA Championship is headed to Southern Hills Country Club, which has not hosted this event since 1994, when Nick Price triumphed. The Tulsa, Okla., venue staged the 2001 U.S. Open where Retief Goosen prevailed in a Monday playoff.

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