August 11, 2013

Furyk tees off as leader at PGA championship

He hopes to be golf's next 40-something winner, after Phil Mickelson's British Open victory last month.

By PAUL NEWBERRY / The Associated Press

PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Jim Furyk teed off in the final round of the PGA Championship with a one-stroke lead Sunday, looking to give golf another middle-aged major champion.

The 43-year-old Furyk was coming off a 2-under 68, which pushed him to 9 under overall. He was playing in the final group with Jason Dufner, who tied a major championship record by shooting 63 in the second round but only managed a 71 on Saturday.

Two Swedes were next on the leaderboard – Henrik Stenson was two back, while Jonas Blixt was looking to make up three shots. No Swedish man has won a Grand Slam event.

Steve Stricker and Adam Scott were also in the mix, beginning the day four strokes behind. Stricker, who is 46 and only playing a part-time schedule this year, is trying to become the oldest first-time major champion. Scott already won the Masters in April and is in contention on the weekend for the fourth time in the last six majors.

Defending PGA champion Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood were on the fringe of contention, starting out six strokes behind Furyk.

Last month, Phil Mickelson captured the British Open at age 43. The last time golf had back-to-back major champions in their 40s was 1986, when Jack Nicklaus won the Masters and Raymond Floyd followed with a victory in the U.S. Open.

Mickelson wasn’t a factor at Oak Hill. He shot 72 to finish 12 over, tied for 72nd position when he headed for home, his day done before the guys in contention for the Wanamaker Trophy even teed off.

Tiger Woods was an also-ran, as well, wrapping up his fifth straight year without a major title. He did play well down the stretch, making birdies on three of the last six holes. But all that got him was a 70, leaving him at 4-over 284 for the week. He never shot in the 60s, despite much easier scoring conditions the first two days and warm, sunny weather the last two.

Woods is 0-for-18 in the Grand Slam events since winning the U.S. Open in 2008, leaving him at 14 major championships in his career and still four behind the record held by Jack Nicklaus.

Coming off his fifth PGA Tour victory of the year, a seven-stroke runaway at the Bridgestone, Woods never got anything going in the final major the year.

“I put together four good rounds last week,” he said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t this week. I didn’t seem to hit it as good and didn’t make many putts until the last few holes.”

Boo Weekley and Scott Piercy were among the hottest players on the course, each making the turn with a 4-under 31. Jason Day shot 32 on the front side to give himself an outside chance.

Tim Clark had the shot of the day among the early starters, a hole-in-one at the 11th. He knocked it in from 220 yards with a hybrid.

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