PGA Championship Sunday at Bellerive could bring major heat

Brooks Koepka who is the first back-to-back US Open winner since nearly three decades is in red-hot form. EPA

Brooks Koepka who is the first back-to-back US Open winner since nearly three decades is in red-hot form. EPA

For Woods, that meant stirring hours before the 7 a.m. local tee time to go through a stretching and therapy routine that is required of a guy who has had four back surgeries.

That par was the most disappointing of the 10 straight Woods made to finish his third round Saturday at the PGA Championship. Woods is the most intriguing challenger, of course, because he has made remarkably fast progress in this comeback, and because he was four off the 54-hole lead at Carnoustie - just like he is at Bellerive - before he surged to the top of the board and flipped the sports world on its ear.

Well, it depends on how you look at it. He gave himself numerous chances - and didn't convert enough of them.

Woods had six putts of 20 feet or shorter for birdie on the back nine and made none.

He had a chance to revive the hysteria with a crack at eagle at the 17th, only to three-putt for yet another par. It was a massively squandered opportunity, one that could easily have seen him grouped with Koepka in the final pairing.

Bigger picture, and on a highly positive note, this all is a bonus for Woods, who 11 months ago was only able to hit 60-yard wedge shots and questioned whether he'd ever play again.

The former world No. 1 ended his second round with a four-under, 66 - good for six shots back of the lead.

Woods shot 31 on the front and was primed to shoot 65 or lower and couldn't do it. It is a trend he has yet to buck.

Tiger Woods a 14-time major champion in his comeback season from spinal fusion surgery fired a 66 to share fourth on 202. AFP
Tiger Woods a 14-time major champion in his comeback season from spinal fusion surgery fired a 66 to share fourth on 202. AFP

Put another way, he's poised to prove that he's arguably the best major championship player at the moment.

Koepka is trying to become the first player since Woods to capture the U.S. Open and PGA in the same year. Koepka appears fearless with the driver. That greatly shortens the golf course. Tiger's driver still remains a liability.

Tiger will have a short break and then get back on the course for his third round later this afternoon. A lot needs to go right. He is at 3 under par for the tournament.

Now he gets another shot, and it most likely will take another round like Saturday. He has now been in contention or on the fringe of it several times, including at The Open, the Quicken Loans National, the Players, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Valspar Championship. Whatever the reason, everything fell apart past year, when Scott managed only four top-10s and was never in contention in the tournaments that mattered most.

But an even-par back nine leaves Woods having to chase down a four-shot deficit if he is to earn his 15th major title.

Woods hit his drive at the fourth hole into thick rough to the left of the fairway, and he took a furious rip into the thick grass to advance the ball up the fairway at the par-4. And yet, there were times he fell behind during the final round and still won.

But then the golfing gods gifted this marathon Saturday out of left field and left us all with a Sunday at colorless and faceless Bellerive that could be the most memorable golf event of the year, and of many years to come. All of the other nuances of playing the year's final major have been washed away by downpours on Tuesday and Friday.

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Furthermore, the Saints only picked up a single point against Dyche's men last season, losing narrowly at St. They have a great manager and I think the supporters and him will feed off each other's passion and energy.

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