Harrington, Yang close PGA gap on Woods
Published 12:15 am Sunday, August 16, 2009
CHASKA, Minn. — The coronation of Tiger Woods turned into a contest Saturday at the PGA Championship.
What had looked so inevitable — Woods with a four-shot lead on the weekend at a major — suddenly became filled with possibilities as his margin vanished along the back nine at Hazeltine.
Only a late birdie by Woods and a lone bogey from Padraig Harrington gave the final major a familiar look.
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Woods, playing it safe to avoid throwing away shots, wound up with a 1-under 71 and had a two-shot lead over Harrington and Y.E. Yang. That left Woods one round away from capturing his 15th major, with more company than anyone expected.
‘‘The narrower the gap, the better,’’ Harrington said.
But it’s still a gap. The advantage still belongs to Woods.
He has never lost a major when he was leading going into the final round.
Only once in his career — nine years ago — had he lost any tournament when leading by two shots or more.
His conservative play allowed his lead to be cut in half. Woods found little wrong with that.
‘‘I didn’t give myself a lot of looks at putts,’’ he said. ‘‘I was lag putting a lot. Given the conditions and my position in the tournament, I didn’t mind it.’’
The only fist pump Woods delivered on a blustery afternoon came on the short par-4 14th. He hit 3-wood to the back of the green, chipped so poorly that it ran through the green and against the collar, then used the blade of his sand wedge to knock in a 15-foot birdie putt that allowed him to regain the lead.