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By the end of the day Sunday, the heat -- and Tiger Woods -- had gotten the best of Stephen Ames. (Photo: Getty Images)
By the end of the day Sunday, the heat -- and Tiger Woods -- had gotten the best of Stephen Ames. (Photo: Getty Images)

Once again, disappointed Ames left in Woods' wake

Print News

For the fifth time in his career Sunday, Stephen Ames found himself facing off against Tiger Woods in a pressure-packed setting. And for the fifth time, the Canadian couldn't muster much of a challenge for the world No. 1.

By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer

TULSA, Okla. -- Statistically speaking, Stephen Ames was doomed before he even teed it up Sunday in the final round of the 89th PGA Championship at Southern Hills with playing competitor Tiger Woods.

Since 2004, the duo had played together four times, with Woods getting the better of Ames on each of those occasions, including the famous 9-and-8 thumping in the opening round of the 2006 World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.

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The boisterous Ames didn't help his cause at the Match Play. Prior to teeing it up with Woods, he told the Associated Press, "anything can happen, especially where he's hitting it." He then told a GOLF CHANNEL reporter, "How he goes about scoring from where he hits it -- that's the amazing thing. That's the mark of a true champion. As bad as he hits it, he still manages to win golf tournaments."

Woods used those remarks as motivation to send Ames packing quickly.

To his credit, Ames bounced back shortly thereafter to win THE PLAYERS Championship.

But back to Sunday.

Ames began the day alone in second place at 4-under par, three shots behind Woods. When it was over, the Canadian signed for a 6-over-par 76 to finish in a tie for 12th at 2-over-par 282, 10 shots behind Woods, who claimed his 13th major championship title.

It was ugly early for Ames, who bogeyed his first two holes. It looked like he might bounce back a little after a birdie on No. 3. But, as a host of players rose up the leaderboard with birdies, Ames continued his slide. The rough stretch that sealed his fate was four consecutive bogeys beginning on No. 12.

"It was fun. It was fine," he said. "I just didn't swing very good today, unfortunately, right from the start. From there it was a bit of a struggle for me to get back into it. Even at the end, I kind of figured it out a bit and started playing better towards the end, but Tiger played well. All due to him. He played fantastic, did what he needed to do and had some pressure from other players coming in, which is good."

Ames said he set a target score for himself on Sunday, but wasn't able to shoot it, instead posting his only over-par score of the week.

"I was expecting to shoot 69," he admitted. "I was looking to break par again. That's the number I was focusing on. I'm not surprised. I'm not looking at the score itself, I'm looking at how I handled the day and I thought I handled it very well considering the duress, or strain, or whatever it was that I was playing under. This was my first opportunity of playing in a major in the last group. All those things you've got to look at."

Ames was the second Canadian to draw Woods in the final round of a PGA Championship. In 1999 at Medinah, it was Mike Weir who entered the final round in a share of the lead with Woods. However, Weir carded a disappointing 7-over-par 80 to finish in a tie for 10th, while Woods managed an even-par 72 to edge Sergio Garcia for his second major title.

"I wouldn't say that I was going through what Mike was going through," Ames said. "I don't know what he was feeling."

Weir got over it and four years later won the Masters in a playoff over Len Mattiace.

Ames was baited Saturday evening by the press, but didn't get reeled in to any smack-talking prior to the final round. So, whether it was the pressure of playing in the final round and the final pairing of a major with Woods, whether it was the 102-degree heat, or whether he just didn't have his game, the bottom line is that the history books will show Ames struggled in Woods' presence yet again.

"I know what I was feeling out there and I was fighting myself more than anything else," said Ames, whose best finish in a major remains a tie for fifth at the 1997 Open Championship. "I wasn't fighting him [Woods]. I was trying to play my game and be me and I couldn't be me today, unfortunately from the start. At the end I realized where I fell apart, which is good. That's the positive I'm taking out of it. It might have been the heat. I haven't played in this heat before, ever. I've played when it's been hot, but not this hot."

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