Olazabal on a high as rough stalls Woods - Golf - Sport - The Independent

Olazabal on a high as rough stalls Woods

USPGA Championship: World No 1 shows human side while Spaniard finds sparkling form to set course record 63

So Tiger Woods is human. While the rest of the field enjoyed themselves in the third round of the 82nd USPGA Championship, Woods was getting to know the long bluegrass rough they have around these parts. A total of 53 players were under the par of 72, compared to the previous record for a round in the USPGA of 38 at Riviera in 1995. Woods was one of them as the world No 1 scrambled his way to a 70, which gave him a one-stroke lead over Bob May and Scott Dunlap.

So Tiger Woods is human. While the rest of the field enjoyed themselves in the third round of the 82nd USPGA Championship, Woods was getting to know the long bluegrass rough they have around these parts. A total of 53 players were under the par of 72, compared to the previous record for a round in the USPGA of 38 at Riviera in 1995. Woods was one of them as the world No 1 scrambled his way to a 70, which gave him a one-stroke lead over Bob May and Scott Dunlap.

But Woods, who at one point was three strokes clear and looking like easing away as he did in winning the US Open and The Open, missed out in the low numbers. Even Tom Watson, now 50 and on the Senior Tour, briefly equalled the Valhalla course record of 65 before Jose Maria Olazabal lowered it by two. Olazabal became the 18th player in major championship history to score a 63. From level par, the Spaniard jumped up to nine under, four behind Woods.

Before the third round here, Woods was on a streak of 11 sub-70 scores in 12 rounds in majors. The one exception was the third round at Pebble Beach, where he scored a 71 but still extended his lead from six strokes to 10. The first sign all was not well on Saturday came when he pulled his second shot at the par-five second 30 yards into the rough. But a brilliant pitch set up the regulation birdie.

Woods missed only one green on the front nine and his birdie at the 10th was his fourth of the round. However, after that he missed more fairways and greens than he hit. At the 12th, he had the undignified experience of playing five consecutive shots.

His playing partner, Dunlap, hit his approach first, finishing two feet from the hole. Woods was in trouble off the tee, played out of the trees short of the green, chipped on but then took three putts from three feet for a double-bogey six. Dunlap then got to hole his birdie putt and briefly tie for the lead.

Woods only went clear of the field again by making a birdie at the last. "I am telling you, to shoot 70, as poorly as I struck the ball, I thought was pretty good," Woods said. "Not knowing which way exactly the ball is going to go. Is it going to go left, right, high, low? Am I going to hit it fat or thin? Just good, positive thoughts. To have the lead was a bonus.

"I haven't really hit the ball well all week," he added. "But I have managed my game well and that's what you need to do. You can't hit the ball well every week and every day. Maybe you can make a few putts and that's what I was able to do initially."

Playing with Woods on the weekend at a major can induce his opponents' scores to rise into the 80s but Dunlap, a 37-year-old who has never won in the United States, hung on well to score 70. "Probably like the rest of the golfing world, I was wondering how I was going to do," Dunlap said. "Was I going to fall by the wayside or have enough guts to stand in there and go toe-to-toe? I passed that test."

Olazabal, a week after shooting 81 to miss the cut at the Buick Open, went to the turn in 32 and birdied the 10th, 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th, all with short putts such was the brilliance of his iron play. Another chance slipped by at the 17th which would have given him the new major record. "I didn't know about that," said Olazabal. "But I wanted to get to 10 under par." He ranked the round up there with his 61 at Firestone in 1990, when he won the World Series by 12 strokes. "I think this one is as good. I would rate both of them as the best I have ever played."

Olazabal is thinking of taking out his US Tour card and play the West Coast swing at the start of next year. "If I'm going to come over here, I can not delay it much longer," he said. "The reasons are pretty obvious. I can make just one trip to California and drive to five tournaments in a row. If I am in Europe, I have to go to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Dubai."

Jesper Parnevik, meanwhile, has informed the European Tour he will not play the minimum of 11 events required for membership this season but he will rejoin next year to be eligible for the next Ryder Cup at The Belfry. The qualifying starts in Switzerland next month, but the only two tournaments the Swede is playing in are the AmEx World Championship at Valderrama and the Johnny Walker Classic where he should still be able to earn Ryder Cup points.

But with six players from last year's team likely to be splitting their time between America and Europe - Parnevik, Olazabal, Sergio Garcia, Paul Lawrie, Jean Van de Velde and Miguel Angel Jimeñez - the captain, Sam Torrance, may worry that not all those he wants to qualify automatically will do so, leaving him with a tricky decision over his two wild cards.

SCORES FROM VALHALLA

US PGA CHAMPIONSHIP (Valhalla, Louisville, Kentucky) Early final scores (US unless stated): 291 M A Jimeñez (Sp) 70 77 74 70. 293 J Huston 75 72 74 72. 297 R Damron 72 74 81 70; B Mayfair 74 73 76 74. 299 R Sabbatini (SA) 74 71 76 78. 300 M Ozaki (Japan) 74 71 76 79. 301 H Tanaka (Japan) 72 73 77 79. 313 F Dobbs 75 72 88 78. Third-round scores: 203 T Woods 66 67 70; 204 B May 72 66 66; S Dunlap 66 68 70. 205 JP Hayes 69 68 68. 206 G Chalmers (Aus) 71 69 66. 207 JM Olazabal (Sp) 76 68 63; T Bjorn (Den) 72 68 67; S Appleby (Aus) 70 69 68. 208 F Langham 72 71 65; N Begay 72 66 70. 209 P Azinger 72 71 66; P Mickelson 70 70 69; D Love 68 69 72. 210 M Clark 73 70 67. 211 T Watson 76 70 65; T Kite 70 72 69; S Ames (Tri) 69 71 71; F Funk 69 68 74. 212 R Allenby (Aus) 73 71 68; C DiMarco 73 70 69; D Clarke (GB) 68 72 72; D Toms 72 68 72. 213 M Weir (Can) 76 69 68; L Westwood 72 72 69; W Grady (Aus) 71 74 68; J Van de Velde (Fr) 70 74 69; S Kendall 72 72 69; T Pernice 74 69 70; M O'Meara 71 72 70; S Jones 72 71 70; S Cink 72 71 70. 214 J Sandelin (Swe) 74 72 68; B McCallister 73 71 70; J Kaye 69 74 71; A Cabrera (Arg) 72 71 71; C Stadler 74 69 71; J Sluman 73 69 72; E Els (SA) 74 68 72. 215 P Stankowski 75 72 68; J Haas 73 74 68; B Faxon 71 74 70; B Henninger 70 74 71. 216 N Faldo (GB) 79 68 69; P Harrington (Irl) 75 72 69; L Janzen 76 70 70; K Perry 78 68 70; C Perry 72 74 70; J Parnevik (Swe) 72 74 70; C Montgomerie (GB) 74 72 70; D Waldorf 75 70 7;, S Garcia (Sp) 74 69 73. 217 D Paulson 72 75 70; S Maruyama (Japan) 77 69 71; J Leonard 73 73 71; L Roberts 74 72 71; T Izawa (Japan) 73 73 71; B Langer (Ger) 75 69 73. 218 B Glasson 73 74 71; J Ogilvie 73 74 71; M Calcavecchia 73 74 71; G Day 76 71 71; A Coltart (GB) 74 71 73; S Hoch 73 70 75; C Strange 72 70 76. 219 P Lawrie (GB) 75 71 73; B Watts 72 74 73; J Furyk 74 71 74; S Pate 75 70 74; G Kraft 71 73 75. 220 K Triplett 76 71 73; S Lowery 73 74 73; C Franco (Par) 72 74 74.

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