SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — Nick Watney won't be overlooked at this major.
Watney opened a three-stroke lead
at the PGA Championship on Saturday afternoon, making birdies on five
of his first seven holes on his way to 12 under.
Liang Wenchong broke the
Whistling Straits record by a stroke with a bogey-free, 8-under 64. As
he finished his round, Liang smiled and pumped his fist. He'd missed the
cut in his only other PGA Championship appearance, and his low score
this year on either the PGA or European tours was a 66.
Joining Liang at 9 under were
Dustin Johnson, who melted down at Pebble Beach after being the 54-hole
leader, Rory McIlroy, Bryce Molder, Martin Kaymer and Jason Day. All
were still on the course.
Tiger Woods had a chance to make
things interesting, pulling within five strokes of the lead after the
second round was completed Saturday morning. The fog that wreaked havoc
on the first two days of the tournament finally lifted and the wind
shifted – perfect conditions for Woods to make a run.
"The course is the easiest I have seen it and it is there for the taking," said Paul Casey who, like Woods, is at 3-under 213.
But Woods backed up early
Saturday afternoon, and had to close birdie-birdie just to finish at
even par for the day. When he finished, he was nine strokes – and more
than two dozen players – behind Watney.
"It was just a struggling day, and I'm done with it," Woods said.
With only 72 players making the
cut and three-player groups going off both tees, the third round should
be completed before dark Saturday, meaning the tournament will finish on
time after all.
Watney was seventh at both the
Masters and the British Open, tying for high American honors at St.
Andrews. But he wasn't a factor in either tournament, and few outside
his own family paid much attention.
That's not the case this week.
Watney needs a good showing at
the PGA to play himself onto the Ryder Cup team – he was 16th in the
standings when he arrived at Whistling Straits – and if there are any
doubts about his goal, "U-S-A" is stamped on the heel of his shoe.
Watney leapfrogged second-round
leader Matt Kuchar with birdies on his first two holes and kept pouring
it on. He was strong off the tee and solid on the greens, and recovered
well from his few mistakes. Take the 598-yard No. 5. His chip on his
second shot took off, flying clear across the green and stopping about
18 feet past the hole.
He wound up with a birdie.
Watney didn't give up a stroke
until No. 8, when his second shot landed in thick rough. He got within 8
feet, but the putt to save par wouldn't drop.
Woods had worked himself back
into the mix Saturday morning, but he couldn't maintain the momentum in
the afternoon. Not that he didn't have chances. He left a 20-foot birdie
putt short on No. 1. After making a great recovery following a drive
into the left rough on the par-5 No. 2, he ran a 10-footer for birdie
As the crowd groaned, Woods
rubbed the back of his neck. He's played the par-5s, normally gimme
birdie hols for him, at 1 over this week.
There was trouble off the fourth
tee, as Woods drove into the deep rough on the left side of the hole.
He tried to jam his driver head first into his bag, but even that
He punched into the middle of
the fairway, and still had a chance to save par with a 15-footer from
above the hole. But it ran past the hole, too, and Woods stood there
glaring, hand on hip.
"Ironically enough, today I hit
the ball better than I did the first two days. I made nothing. You have
to putt," Woods said. "I stuffed it in there early on the first few
holes and made nothing, and also had a few other putts on the front
nine. You know, no matter how good you hit it, you've still got to make
putts. I just didn't do that today."
Tom Lehman had the shot of the
day, acing the 217-yard 17th with a 4-iron. Lehman, who won the Senior
PGA title earlier this year, ran off the tee slapping hands and