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Woods misses a spot in history, but takes control of PGA
Tiger Woods really wanted that birdie putt on No. 18 to fall for a 62 that would have set a new mark for lowest round in a major. When it lipped out for a record-tying 63, he consoled himself with a two-shot lead that makes the PGA Championship very much his to lose.
See chart below for a list of all the 63s shot in major championship history
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.com Chief of Correspondents
TULSA, Okla. -- He wanted the record. Don't ever doubt it.
That little white ball just wouldn't cooperate, though. It dipped ever so slightly into the hole, teasing us all, then inexplicably spun back up onto the rim and lipped out.
Tiger Woods tossed his putter to the ground, turned around and took several steps before looking back at the 18th hole as if wanting to punish it. Had the ball gone in, Woods would have become the first man to shoot 62 in a major championship.
Instead, the man who so doggedly seeks history with every shot he plays has to share the record with 20 other men who have done it a total of 23 times. There is some consolation, though. What Woods does own sole possession of now is the lead at the midway point of the 89th PGA Championship at Southern Hills. He's ahead of Scott Verplank, who shot 66 on Friday, by two strokes and Stephen Ames and Geoff Ogilvy by three.
"I was just trying to get myself back into the tournament, and lo and behold, here I am," Woods said with a big grin.
Oh, and don't forget the defending champion is 7-0 when leading a major after 36 holes. And in the six previous majors Southern Hills has hosted, the 36-hole leader or co-leader has gone on to win -- including Ray Floyd at the 1982 PGA Championship, where he also shot a 63.
"I know what to do," Woods said. "It's just a matter of going out there and doing it. We've got a long way to go. We're only at the halfway point. A lot of holes to play and I need to continue to do what I'm doing. I know there's a lot of guys playing well, and hopefully I can play a little bit better."
He certainly did on Friday. Woods put on a clinic at a course that was yielding birdies grudgingly. He played his first five holes in 3 under, making birdie putts of 6, 20 and 8 feet, before a bogey at the seventh hole briefly halted his momentum.
Woods got on another run at the ninth hole, hitting an 8-iron to 12 inches there and a 9-iron to 4 feet at No. 10. His final three birdies also came in succession -- a 2-footer at No. 13, a chip-in on the next and a 20-footer at the 15th hole.
Truth be told, though, a spectacular sand save from a burried lie at the 12th hole may have been the catalyst for the record-tying round. He had to make a 35-footer there, and when the ball curled into the hole, the satisfied Woods walked around the green pumping his fist repeatedly.
"When I hit the putt, I hit it flush," said Woods, who jumped 23 spots into the lead with the 63 -- marking his largest improvement ever in a major.
"It was just a matter of it taking a break, but it took its time breaking. It really didn't want to break. But at the very end, it snapped and went in."
The game's No. 1 player gave himself chances at the final three holes, too. Woods just missed a 15-footer at the 16th hole and left another from 20 feet short at No. 17. He thought he'd made the final putt until that dance in -- and out -- of the hole.
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"Mad," Woods said, smiling, describing his emotions after the ball refused to fall. "I hit a good putt. And I thought I made it. It would have been nice to have gotten a record and get a three-shot lead going into the weekend.
the good thing is I hit a good putt. And that's the important part. It just didn't go in. Nick Price did the same thing at Augusta in '86 and hit the same kind of putt and it horseshoed as well."
Woods said he struck the ball almost as well on Thursday -- he just didn't finish it off like he did in the second round. And he did it on a course that's hardly a bomber's paradise with its many doglegs, and one where some expected he wouldn't play well.
Asked to rate the round in his litany of stellar performances, Woods didn't hesitate. "High, there's no doubt," he said.
"I hit the ball really well and there was a nice little stretch there at 9, 10, 11 where I hit some really good shots," he added. "And I just felt that, you know, all day I was in control of my shots today. And I was controlling my trajectory.
"The hard part was making some putts out there because the greens were not smooth. They were pretty bumpy. Luckily I left a lot of putts below the hole where I could take a pretty good rap at them, trying to take some hops out of it."
It won't get any easier on the weekend, either. But Woods, who has been shut out in the first three majors this year, is right where he wants to be.
|The 63s in Majors|
|There have been 23 occasions when a player has shot 63 in a major championship. Greg Norman and Vijay Singh are the only ones to do it twice.|
|Bruce Crampton||1975 (2nd round)|
|Raymond Floyd||1982 (1st round)|
|Gary Player||1984 (2nd round)|
|Vijay Singh||1993 (2nd round)|
|Michael Bradley||1995 (1st round)|
|Brad Faxon||1995 (4th round)|
|Jose Maria Olazabal||2000 (3rd round)|
|Mark O'Meara||2001 (2nd round)|
|Thomas Bjorn||2005 (3rd round)|
|Tiger Woods||2007 (2nd round)|
|Nick Price||1986 (3rd round)|
|Greg Norman||1996 (1st round)|
|Johnny Miller||1973 (4th round)|
|Jack Nicklaus||1980 (1st round)|
|Tom Weiskopf||1980 (1st round)|
|Vijay Singh||2003 (2nd round)|
|Mark Hayes||1977 (2nd round)|
|Isao Aoki||1980 (3rd round)|
|Greg Norman||1986 (2nd round)|
|Paul Broadhurst||1990 (3rd round)|
|Jodie Mudd||1991 (4th round)|
|Nick Faldo||1993 (2nd round)|
|Payne Stewart||1993 (4th round)|