Weeks: Bringing home major leads always a tough task

Bob Weeks
8/12/2012 11:09:39 AM
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With three rounds completed, Rory McIlroy looks to have a stranglehold on the PGA Championship. Of course, that's what we thought about Adam Scott after three rounds at the Open Championship and about Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk at the U.S. Open and Peter Hanson at the Masters.

You get the idea. It's tough to hold a third-round lead in a major. The last golfer to win one of the big four after holding a 54-hole lead was Darren Clarke at the 2011 Open. Even in regular Tour events, the average isn't good. In 34 events, only 11 third-round leaders have gone on to win the tournament.

Still, McIlroy looks awfully good. He's back to being the guy who dominated Congressional rather than the one who missed the cut in three of four starts including the U.S. Open. He doesn't seem himself as one to fall back on Sunday.

"I think you see a lot of guys that haven't held on in the past, it's been a first-time experience for them," he said. "You know, I learned a lot from the Masters last year and that's definitely something that I can think back to and draw on some of those memories and some of the feelings I had at Congressional."

The pack chasing certainly was mixed up after the field finally finished up the third round. Carl Pettersson, the big Swede, is still hanging around, as is Adam Scott, but enter Bo Van Pelt and Trevor Immelman. Say hello to Steve Stricker and the aforementioned Hanson.

And then there's Tiger, who managed to get through his round at two over. He's still hanging around but he has a lot of work to do and a lot of players to pass if he's going to get a fifth Wannamaker Trophy.

Woods inexplicably hasn't broken par on a weekend at a major this year. His third-round scoring average in the four big events is a lofty 72.75. It's even worse in the final round.

On Sunday morning, the one club that had worked so well for him, his putter, seemed to fail him as he missed relatively short opportunities to either pick up ground or hold steady.

"I had a few good looks at it this morning and I just couldn't believe how slow these greens were this morning," Woods reflected. "I don't know if they cut them or not, but they were just a lot slower."

Woods will have to press on the accelerator if he has any hope and even then, the mission seems too much. That is as long as McIlroy doesn't falter. Woods is only two shots back of second place.

The same can be said for Vijay Singh, who looked vastly different from the guy who was playing on Saturday afternoon before the storm blew in.

"I don't know why," Singh said about his start, "my rhythm went a little quicker or I was a little too excited or conditions were good and just let it slip away. I just made some bad errors."

That can't happen this afternoon for any player, leader or chaser, if they want a victory. The conditions are ripe for scoring, relatively speaking, of course, and you can expect a chase to the end.

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