Tiger Woods has never lost a major when leading after 36 holes. He takes a four-shot advantage into Saturday's round. (Clary/Getty Images)
The Live Report, Round 3
PGATOUR.COM's The Live Report has all the news and notes from the PGA Championship, and we'll be providing updates from Hazeltine all day, so check back often. (All timestamps are Eastern Time.)
By PGATOUR.COM Staff
WEATHER UPDATE (8:10 p.m.): When Sunday's tee times were passed out in the press tent as intermittent showers beat down on the canvas roof, there was a cover sheet that spelled out the following caveat.
In the event that we are unable to start play at 7:36 a.m. due to the coruse being unfit for play or there is dangerous weather in the area or a significant chance of dangerous weather moving into the area, the following starting times may be adjusted. If this is done, we may repair and play in groups of threewith starting times on the first and 10th tees from approximately 10:50 a.m.-1 p.m. CT.
Wonder if that means the thunderstorms that are in the forecast could be worse than expected? -- Helen Ross
TIGER STILL ON TOP (6:50 p.m.): Well, the field caught up to Tiger Woods today. That's what happens when you have the kind of putting day that Woods had. He made almost nothing all day long. As a result, his lead has been cut in half, from four to two with Y.E. Yang and Padraig Harrington each two shots back.
But because Yang finished before Harrington, shooting a 67, which ties for the lowest round of the week with Woods, it'll be Yang who plays with Woods in tomorrow's final group instead of Harrington. That might not be such a bad thing for Harrington, who played with Woods the first two days here after playing with him in the final round last week at Firestone, where Woods came out on top after a disastrous finish by Harrington.
There are others in contention, too, with PLAYERS Championship winner Henrik Stenson and U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover each at 4 under, four shots back. One back of that are Soren Kjeldsen and Ernie Els, though it's hard to imagine either would be able to erase a five-shot deficit. After all, Woods has led all three days and is 14-for-14 in majors when leading after 54 holes. Tomorrow would be 15-for-15 for major number 15. Can he get it done again? Again, it's hard to argue with history. -- Brian Wacker
WEATHER UPDATE (6:44 p.m.): A weather warning for fans was posted at 6:15 p.m. ET but play has continued. The skies are dark, thunder is echoing in the distance and light rain is falling at times. Rain is expected to move in as darkness falls with the highest probability after midnight and into Sunday morning. The longest course in major championship history could be even more of a beast for the final round. -- Helen Ross
ANOTHER STRONG SHOWING BY STENSON (6:15 p.m.): It’s hardly a surprise to see Henrik Stenson challenging to win his first major championship. After all, he’s posted three top-10s in his last five majors and he won THE PLAYERS Championship earlier this year.
Stenson shot a 68 at Hazeltine on Saturday and will start the final round at 4 under, well within striking distance for what would be the Swede’s first major. He opened with a bogey on Saturday but got that back -- and then some -- when he birdied his next two holes and went on to post a total of five.
“I’m happy with the way I played,” Stenson said. “I started off a bit funky. … It could have been one or two better, but overall very happy with the day.”
Stenson has gotten steadily better since opening with a 73.
“I've been patient all week,” he said. “I think first day I didn't really make any putts and that was the difference. Yesterday I struggled a little bit after the turn. I was 2 under coming out. And I just hit a couple of wayward shots coming in and really, 14, made par 14 yesterday and bogeyed 15 so I felt at least I dropped two on all the other guys.
“So that was a little bit painful, but such is life. And came back with a good round today and hopefully I'll have an outside chance tomorrow.” -- Helen Ross
STERNE OUT (5:55 p.m.): Richard Sterne withdrew from the 91st PGA Championship on the 15th hole with a hand injury. He is the third player to withdraw since the tournament started -- joining Paul Casey (rib) and John Daly (back). -- Helen Ross
TIGER BACK ON TOP (5:55 p.m.): Tiger Woods has yet to birdie a par-5 today, but he did just birdie the par-4 14th, bringing him to 1 under on his round and more importantly putting him back in the lead by one.
Henrik Stenson, who won THE PLAYERS Championship in May, put himself in good position to make another Sunday run, shooting a 4-under 68 that has him just four back of Woods at the moment. Y.E. Yang is even closer than Stenson, shooting a 67, which ties for the low round of the week with Woods. -- Brian Wacker
PAVIN THE WAY (5:40 p.m.): Shades of Tom Watson.
He's 49 years old. Not to mention, Corey Pavin ranks 201st in driving distance on the PGA TOUR with an average of 259.4 yards. So how is he contending in the 91st PGA Championship at the longest course in major history?
Pavin is 2 under -- for the day and the tournament -- through 16 holes on Saturday. The 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup captain has played to his strengths, hitting all but 10 fairways and 32 of his first 52 greens. He's putting well, too, using 58 through the first two rounds and 24 so far on Saturday.
So what if he's averaging just 267.8 yards in driving distance to rank 78th among the 79 players who made the cut. -- Helen Ross
PADDY PULLS EVEN (5:30 p.m.): Padraig Harrington was exactly right that he needed to get out of the Tiger Woods vortex for a day. Harrington is 4 under through 12 holes and now tied with Woods for the lead with Woods unable to get much of anything out of his round except eight straight pars over his last eight holes.
Harrington isn't the only one threatening, though. Y.E. Yang, who has three top-10s this season, including two in the last three weeks, is one back, along with Ernie Els, with both men playing in 5 under so far today.
What once looked like a Woods runaway is now turning into a who's-who leaderboard. -- Brian Wacker
TIGER AT THE TURN (4:45 p.m.): Today has been a lot more like the "plod my way around" round that Tiger Woods has talked about all week with Woods making one birdie and one bogey on his way to an even-par front nine.
Meanwhile, those behind him aren't backing off. Padraig Harrington, who played with Woods the first two days and talked about how it might be good to get out of the Woods vortex for a day, just pulled to within one. Ernie Els, who finished in a tie for eighth at the British Open, is right there, too, just two back.
Henrik Stenson, Soren Kjeldsen and U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover are another stroke back at 4 under.
Saturday is moving day, except the field is moving closer to Woods, rather than the other way around. Stay tuned. Harrington could be playing with Woods in Sunday's final grouup for the second week in a row at this rate. -- Brian Wacker
PRESIDENTS CUP, INTERNATIONAL SIDE (4:30 p.m.): Y.E. Yang, who won The Honda Classic earlier this year, is playing his way into the International Team picture for the Presidents Cup during the third round of the PGA Championship.
Yang ranks 36th in the Presidents Cup standings but he’s currently tied for second in the PGA, three strokes behind Tiger Woods. Yang is 3 under through 10 holes and 4 under for the tournament.
The 37-year-old from South Korea would need a victory to have a shot at being one of the 10 automatic qualifiers for the International Team when the PGA is over on Sunday.
There are 14 others who made the cut and have a mathematical possibility. Brendan Jones, who is tied for ninth at 2 under through seven holes, and Stephen Ames, who’s one further back through 17, are the next-best placed. Jones would need to finish second or better and Ames third.
Greg Norman will complete his team his two Captain’s Picks on Sept. 8. -- Helen Ross
PUTTING FRUSTRATES MICKELSON AGAIN (4:20 p.m.): 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. (Click here for more.) -- Helen Ross
SINGH STRUGGLING (4 p.m.): Tiger Woods isn't pulling away from the field like he did yesterday, playing his first six holes in even par. His playing partner, Vijay Singh, however, is going the other direction. Singh is 1 over through six holes and doesn't quite look like the player he has been through the first two rounds. That has nothing to do with playing with Woods, though. Singh and Woods have played together plenty before, and Singh has beaten him before. Today, or this week, doesn't look to be one of those times, though. -- Brian Wacker
MCILROY MAKING A MOVE (3:27 p.m.): Rory McIlroy, playing in his first PGA Championship, has also moved into contention -- or at least into a tie for third, which is four shots back right now.
McIlroy is 3 under through 10 holes today and 3 under for the tournament. His best finish in a major is a tie for 10th at the U.S. Open. He finished in a tie for 20th at the Masters and a tie for 47th at the British Open. -- Brian Wacker
STENSON SLIDING UP THE LEADERBOARD (3:05 p.m.): Tiger Woods still has his four-shot cushion thanks to an early birdie on No. 2, PLAYERS Championship winner Henrik Stenson has moved into contention thanks to a 3-under 33 on the front nine here at Hazeltine.
Stenson is no stranger to success here at the PGA -- he finished in a tie for fourth at Oakland Hills last year -- and he's now just five shots back of the lead. Stenson also has a history of playing well in big events. Aside from his win at THE PLAYERS, Stenson tied for 13th at the British Open and was ninth at the U.S. Open. -- Brian Wacker
SINGH'S STATS (2:40 p.m.): Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh just teed off in the day's final pairing and even though there are four shots separating them, Singh is not a guy who will wilt in Woods' enormous shadow. Singh is well-rested and playing much better now than he was earlier in the year.
Like Woods, Singh does much of his damage on the par-5s in the PGA, which he's won twice to Woods' four PGA victories. See below for more. -- Brian Wacker
Tiger Woods: PGA Championship career scoring
|Total to par
|Total holes played
Vijay Singh: PGA Championship career scoring
|Total to par
|Total holes played
MORE KEY STATS (2:10 p.m.): One of the PGA TOUR's stat gurus, Alex Turnbull, came up with some interesting numbers for Tiger Woods. He has now shot under par in 13 of his last 14 rounds at the PGA Championship and in his career, he's 2 over on the par 3s (184 played), 1 under on the par 4s (508 played) and 60 under on the par 5s (136 played).
In addition, entering this week, Woods had played 792 holes in the PGA Championship and was 52 under. Of those who had played at least 400 holes, Sergio Garcia was the only other player under par at 3 under through 576. Former PGA champ Phil Mickelson is 3 over through 864, Geoff Ogilvy is 8 over through 432 and Ernie Els 9 over through 756. -- Helen Ross
WIND, WEATHER UPDATE (2 p.m.): Although there have been some brief periods of drizzle at Hazeltine on Saturday, it looks like the heavy stuff won't arrive until about 4 p.m. ET. The wind will be from the south and gust between 15-25 mph. More rain and thunderstorms will continue overnight and into Sunday morning, when there is a 60 percent chance of rain. -- Helen Ross
TWO PGA PROS MAKE THE CUT (1:50 p.m.): The second of two PGA of America professionals to make the cut here at Hazeltine, Grant Sturgeon, just teed off a few minutes ago with John Merrick. Sturgeon is having a more-than-respectable week -- when's the last time you remember a PGA pro teeing off this late on a Saturday -- at even par with scores of 73-71.
The other PGA pro to make the cut is Greg Bisconti. He opened with rounds of 75-72 and teed off with Camilo Villegas earlier today. Bisconti is 4 over through his first 12 holes today. (For more on the 20 club pros who were/are in the field this week, click here.) -- Brian Wacker
INSIDE THE NUMBERS (1:32 p.m.): Two key numbers for Tiger Woods this week: tied for third in the field in driving accuracy (75 percent) and tied for first in greens in regulation (81 percent).
Is there any wonder why he's atop the leaderboard? In four of his five wins this year, Woods has been in the top six in the field in greens in regulation and in two of them, he's ranked in the top seven for driving accuracy (see chart below). -- Brian Wacker
||Greens in regulation
|Arnold Palmer Invitational
||60.7 percent (T51)
||54.2 percent (T50)
||87.5 percent (2)
||73.6 percent (T3)
||73.2 percent (T7)
||76.4 percent (T3)
||53.6 percent (T30)
||78.9 percent (T6)
||51.8 percent (T38)
||70.8 percent (T2)
TIGER TIDBITS (1:15 p.m.): We're 90 minutes away from Tiger Woods teeing off here in the the third round of the PGA Championship, but seeing some numbers from PGA TOUR stats guru Alex Turnbull late last night is a reminder of just how dominant Woods is, especially at this event, which he's won four times and is well on his way to winning a fifth time.
Coming into this week, Woods is a ridiculous 52 under in his career at the PGA. The next closest guy on the list (with a minimum of 400 rounds played)? Sergio Garcia ... at 3 under. And even if you remove the 400-round minimum from that stat, the next closest guy, Shaun Micheel, is 8 under.
I'm not sure which is a bigger surprise, that the gap is so large or that Woods hasn't won every PGA Championship of his career (see chart below for more). -- Brian Wacker
||Total under par
||Holes played (min 400)
MICKELSON STRUGGLING AGAIN (12:55 p.m.): Different day, same result. Phil Mickelson, whose 8-over 148 start matches the worst 36-hole start in a PGA of his career, isn't doing any better today.
Through his first 15 holes today, Mickelson is 4 over with five bogeys -- including three in a row to open the back nine -- and just one birdie.
The only worse 36-hole starts in a major for Mickelson came at the 1997 Masters, where he shot 76-74 to miss the cut, and at the 1994 British Open at Turnberry, where he opened 78-74 to miss the cut.
The worst 54-hole start by Mickelson in a major came at the 1998 British Open at Royal Birkdale, where Mickelson shot a three-round total of 230. -- Brian Wacker
FLESCH CATCHING FIRE (12:46 p.m.): The wind is blowing, some weather is rolling in and the leaders won't tee off for a couple of hours, but none of that seems to be having a negative effect on Steve Flesch, who is 4 under through his first 10 holes today.
Flesch, who began the day at 2 over for the week, birdied the par-4 first hole before adding three mover over his final five holes on the front nine. Now comes the hard part -- the 11th hole ranks as the eighth most-difficult on the course, whiles Nos. 12 and 13 rank 1 and 2, respectively. Flesch does have a history of playing well in this event, though, with a sixth-place finish last year, a tie for 10th in 2005 and a tie for 17th the last time the PGA was held here. -- Brian Wacker
PRESIDENTS CUP POSSIBILITIES (12:30 p.m.): Technically, there are a lot of players who can still win the PGA Championship -- five players, including major champions Vijay Singh, Lucas Glover and Padraig Harrington, are all within four shots of Tiger Woods. Realistically, we know that Woods does not lose in this situation (he's a perfect 8-for-8 when leading a major after 36 holes).
There's more at stake this week, however, than Woods winning his 15th career major championship, namely the Presidents Cup. Most of the top 10 on the American side is set with Justin Leonard the man on the bubble in the No. 10 spot. A few players could catch him -- Hunter Mahan and Lucas Glover, 12th and 13th, respectively, need at least a solo fourth -- but it sounds like Captain Fred Couples may have his mind already made up.
According to my former colleague, Randall Mell, who spoke with Couples earlier this morning, Couples will pick Hunter Mahan with one of his two captain's pick. That's provided, of course, that Mahan doesn't qualify on his own. Either way, it seems like Leonard would be a lock because it's hard to imagine Couples not picking him should Mahan, currently tied for 14th at the PGA, catch him.
The other likely choice would be Lucas Glover, who is currently 13th in the Presidents Cup standings and tied for second at the PGA. Of course, Glover, too, could play his way into the top 10. Couples also likes Dustin Johnson -- 16th in the standings and tied for 29th at the PGA -- but it might be hard to pick him over anyone in the crop ahead of him. So no matter how you slice it, the final four, if you will, to make the team, by qualifying or by captain's pick, would probably be Glover, Mahan, Leonard and Anthony Kim, who is ninth in the standings and tied for 39th at the PGA. (Click here for more.) -- Brian Wacker
ANOTHER SHOT OF THE WEEK CANDIDATE (12:15 p.m.): Tiger Woods has hit some phenomenal shots during his career. But even the world No. 1 was impressed by the 3-wood Padraig Harrington launched Friday from the upslope of the fairway bunker at the 15th hole some 301 yards onto the green.
“Steve and I were talking, that's one of the best shots I've ever seen,” Woods said. “I don't remember what the number was, but you could hear, he didn't mis-hit that, he hit it flush, out of a bunker uphill lie where you can't use your legs to get any power and chance of slipping is there, but you still hit it flush enough to carry it that far.
“It was a pretty impressive shot and it was definitely worth the price of admission.”
That’s exactly what Woods told Harrington, too.
“He did say to me actually he would have paid to have seen it,” the Irishman said with a smile when questioned later by the media. “Did he tell you that? So I asked him for 50 bucks.”
Harrington, who is defending his title at Hazeltine, had just made birdie at the 14th hole but he was still 1 over for the day. He thought about laying up on the 642-yard par 5 but he couldn’t see an easy birdie so he decided to take the chance.
“It was one of those situations, when I was going down there I was expecting to lay up,” Harrington said. “When I got there, the lie wasn't even fantastic. But after the upslope I felt I could get it airborne and keep it going in the wind.
“You know, the main thing is I've been thinking to myself, weighing up the risk against the reward, anywhere you lay up there, there was no easy place to make birdie. But obviously if I hit the shot as I did, I have a handy birdie, nearly made eagle. I was thinking if I missed a shot I might end up anyway in a pretty similar spot to where if I laid it up.
“So it was one of those ones that maybe because I was a couple over par I felt let's have a go with it.” -- Helen Ross