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Tiger Woods reasserted himself with some big-time shotmaking on the closing holes Saturday at Hazeltine. (Lecka/Getty Images)

Daily Wrap-up: PGA Championship, Round 3

Tiger Woods teed off Saturday with a four-shot lead and, almost shockingly, lost it all in a few hours later. He made some big shots on the final few holes to end the third round with a two-shot edge, but he left the door open for several challengers on Sunday.

CHASKA, Minn. (AP) -- Tiger Woods was one round away from winning another major but he squandered a four-shot lead and drew more company than he wanted at the PGA Championship on Saturday.

Woods played so-so on another windy afternoon at Hazeltine National until his lead was gone. Only at the end of the day did he find some solace. One birdie on the back nine was enough for a 1-under 71. It gave him a two-shot lead over three-time major champion Padraig Harrington and Y.E. Yang.

Only once in his career has he lost any tournament when leading by two shots or more.

"I played conservatively today," Woods said. "I didn't give myself a lot of looks. I was lag putting a lot. The only putt I really missed was on the three-putt. Other than that, it was a good, solid day."

He was at 8-under 208, finishing just as the rain arrived.

Harrington surged into a share of the lead with four birdies over an eight-hole span in the middle of the round, catching Woods with a 7-foot birdie putt on the short par-4 14th. Right when it appeared they would be paired in the final round for the second straight week, Harrington made his only bogey of the round by going over the 18th green and failing to save par.

He wound up with a 69, and much greater hopes of defending his PGA Championship title than he had starting the day.

Woods will play in the final group with Yang, who matched the best round of the tournament with a 67. Yang won his first PGA Tour event this year at the Honda Classic, although the 37-year-old from South Korea was better known for taking down Woods at the HSBC Champions in China three years ago.

They weren't playing in the same group in 2006, however. And this will be Yang's first time contending in a major.

"It will be my first time playing with him, so I'll try not to go over par," he said with a smile. "But I've been looking forward to it. I've thought about playing with Tiger recently. Surprised it came true so fast."

Woods' four-shot lead was his largest in a major after 36 holes since he led by five at St. Andrews in 2005. Just like that British Open, his margin was cut to two shots going into the final round.

Suddenly, there are other challengers to try to stop Woods from winning his 15th career major, and first of the year.


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EASIEST HOLE TOUGHEST HOLE
The 572-yard par-5 seventh. It has played to a scoring average of 4.654 through three rounds, with 10 eagles, 161 birdies and 39 bogeys. The 518-yard par-4 12th. It has played to a scoring average of 4.511 through three rounds, with 16 birdies, 70 pars, 161 bogeys and 27 higher scores.
SHOT OF THE DAY
ROUND OF THE DAY
Brendan Jones drained a blast out of a difficult greenside bunker on the 10th hole Saturday to turn a potential bogey into a birdie. He's now tied for eighth.
Y.E. Yang carded a 5-under 67 Saturday to climb into second place. He had three birdies on both the front and back nines to go with a lone bogey. 


CONTENDERS DREAMING OF A MAJOR TAKEDOWN ON SUNDAY

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

CHASKA, Minn. -- Something strange happened on Saturday at Hazeltine -- the 91st PGA Championship suddenly became a tournament.

Sound strange? Sure. But the fact is Tiger Woods started the third round with a commanding four-shot advantage, showing no immediate signs that he was ready to take the stranglehold off his first major victory since reconstructive knee surgery just 14 months ago.

As he headed home for dinner on Saturday evening following a steady round of 1-under 71 to get to 8-under 208 total, however, Woods’ lead had been cut in half with a boatload of worthy contenders lurking not far behind.

The round of the day belonged to South Korea’s Y.E. Yang, a winner early this season on the PGA Tour at the Honda Classic. Yang fired an impressive 5-under 67 to soar up the leaderboard into a tie for second with defending champion Padraig Harrington at 4 under par.

“I’m nervous, but I've been looking forward to it,” said Yang, whose lone bogey came at the par-3 13th hole, which he followed up with three consecutive birdies. “And I've thought about this, playing with Tiger recently, and it came true so fast.”

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PUTTER CONTINUES TO FRUSTRATE DISAPPOINTED MICKELSON

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents

CHASKA, Minn. -- The PGA Championship was one option. It's more likely, though, the TV in the house where Phil Mickelson is staying this week will be turned to NFL preseason football after he finishes practicing on Saturday.

"My Chargers play (Seattle) tonight," the San Diegan said. "The Vikings looked good last night, too. They're going to have a good year."

Besides, there was really no need for Mickelson to watch any of the season's final major. He's playing, but the 2005 PGA champ is four spots removed from dead last among those players who made the cut this week at Hazeltine.

Mickelson shot 76 on Saturday and has now played 54 holes in 8 over. He's only had a higher 54-hole total in three other majors -- 225 at the 1991 U.S. Open, 226 at the 2002 PGA and 230 at the 1998 British Open. The only good news? The 2002 PGA was played at Hazeltine and Mickelson came back with a 68.

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SHAKY ENDING NOT ENOUGH TO RUIN ELS' OPTIMISM

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents

CHASKA, Minn. -- Ernie Els stepped behind the podium outside the scorer's trailer late Saturday afernoon and cast a wary eye to the darkening sky.

He had just made three consecutive bogeys to turn what could have been a stellar round at the 91st PGA Championship into a 70 that was merely good given that grand stage. And even the optimists among us knew that Els may have squandered an opportunity to add the third leg of the career Grand Slam to his resume in that shaky 45-minute stretch.

Instead of being one shot off the lead, as he was before that bogey train left the station, Els now trailed perhaps the greatest frontrunner ever in the game by five strokes. He and Tiger Woods are well acquainted, too, after the big South African went into the final round of all four majors in 2000 placed second to the world No. 1.

"It all kind of fell apart on me at the end there," Els said with a shake of his head. "But I've got to take a lot out of it today. I played good. I got to within one shot of the lead and it's not over yet."

If he just could have maintained the momentum that saw him make five birdies in a nine-hole stretch, if he'd managed pars on the final three holes, Els would have been safely in that second-place tie at 6 under. He'd be in the penultimate group with Padraig Harrington on Sunday as the two veterans stalked the fouth major of their careers.

But Els got ahead of himself.

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HARRINGTON EAGER TO TAKE ANOTHER RUN AT WOODS

By Craig Dolch, Special to PGA.com

CHASKA, Minn. -- Padraig Harrington’s final-hole bogey Saturday not only dropped him two shots behind Tiger Woods, it appeared to cost him a chance to once again play with Woods in Sunday’s final round of the 91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine National.

Harrington was bummed about both situations.

“I don’t think I have a choice,” Harrington said, when asked if he would have preferred to be paired with Woods. “I think I would rather (been paired). I think it would suit me better to have that sort of match-play style.  I think I will get into it and hopefully raise my game.”

No question most golf fans wanted to see Woods (71-208) and Harrington (69-210) play together again. The two players have combined to win seven of the last 13 majors and both have spoken of their respect for each other.

And they may still get to see Woods and Harrington in the final group. About an hour after play ended Saturday, with rain pouring at Hazeltine, PGA of America officials announced they might switch to threesomes off both tees in the final round if bad weather prevents them from starting as planned at 7:36. That move, of course, would add Harrington to the final group.

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