Monday, August 11, 2008

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — J.B. Holmes flopped in the final round of the PGA Championship, collapsing from second to 29th.

It all started under a tree.

Holmes first tee shot Sunday afternoon went near the base of a fir tree. He attempted to punch the ball back to the fairway with his 3-wood, but it barely moved and stayed within the boughs of the low-hanging evergreen.

After taking a one-shot penalty, he chipped out to the fairway and ended up two-putting for a triple-bogey 7.

Holmes didn't regret not taking the penalty right away.

"It wouldn't have gotten me out of the tree," he said. "I could have taken the line of the shot, but that would have put me in the stands. Or, I could have gone back to the tee. I had to go in there and try to hit something. I tried to hit a 3-wood and I didn't get it out."

The long-hitting 26-year-old Kentuckian, dreaming of a spot on Ryder Cup team, couldn't get it back together.

"Everything that could go wrong did go wrong," he said. "It was my first time in the last group in a major and I don't think it will be my last time."

Holmes was 6 over through five holes and finished the forgettable round with nine bogeys, a double and the triple in an 11-over 81 to finish at 290, 13 shots behind winner Padraig Harrington.

But U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger said Holmes shouldn't give up hope for playing next month at home against Europe.

"I'm disappointed for J.B. Holmes, but he's still on my radar," Azinger said.

LEFTY'S DAY: Phil Mickelson said he had an OK year that would have become a great one if he won the PGA Championship.

Put an OK year in the books for one of the best players on the planet.

Mickelson made a minor climb early in Sunday's final round, but never really scared the leaders, shooting an even-par 70 that left him at 4-over 284 and tied for seventh at Oakland Hills.

"I would have liked to obviously play better, but I had a good week," he said. "I had my ups and downs, had a little go of it early in the round and tried to make a move."

Starting the round six shots out of the lead, Mickelson birdied the second, third and fourth holes to get to 1 over, cutting his deficit to four strokes. But he never got closer.

A bogey at No. 8 stopped his momentum. He had two more bogeys to offset that earlier string of birdies.

Rather than bemoan the fact that he hasn't really come close to winning a major in 2008 - he was tied for fifth at the Masters, tied for 18th at the U.S. Open and tied for 19th at the British Open - he preferred to look ahead to the Ryder Cup matches in September.

"I don't think anybody expects us to do that well," he said. "However, I'm optimistic that our team is going to play well."

SEE YOU IN AUGUSTA: Camilo Villegas, known as "Spiderman" because of his contortionist way of looking at putting lines, may now be known as a legitimate threat in major championships.

After barely making the cut, he ended up tied for fourth to earn an invitation to next year's Masters.

Most of the field at the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills looked at a 36-hole finish on Sunday as a marathon. Villegas looked at it as an opportunity.

Under extreme conditions, on a treacherous golf course that surrendered just three sub-par scores for the tournament, the Colombian with the long hair and athletic moves put together rounds of 67 and 68. He finished up the 67 early in the morning before posting the 68.

"I'm proud of myself," he said. "It was tough weather and it hurt to miss those par putts, but I'm just proud of myself the way I hung tight."

HOW SWEDE IT IS: Fredrik Jacobson didn't make much of an impact on the tournament, finishing 12 shots behind Padraig Harrington in a tie for 24th.

But the Swede did earn his way onto Sunday's highlight reel, acing the 193-yard 13th by dropping a tee shot just short of the hole and watching it roll into the cup.

"The wind was really starting to blow, so I tried to hit a low 4-iron - that was the strongest iron I had in the bag," he said. "It started off perfect, and I said `Be as good as you look,' then when it landed, I called out `Go in the hole!"'

Jacobson's playing partners were amused by his mimicry of the traditional gallery yell, especially when it worked.

"The guys just cracked up when it went in, especially since I called it," he said. "I just needed something good to happen.

Jacobson said it was his fifth ace in competitive play and it was the first in a PGA Championship since Olin Browne in 2006.

DIVOTS: There were 13 sub-par scores total in the first two rounds, 10 in the third and nine in the fourth. ... Curtis had three bogeys the first 40 holes of the tournament, then had three in a four-hole span to come back to the pack. ... The final round of the PGA Championship a year ago at Southern Hills in Tulsa had temperatures over 100 degrees. The high never hit 70 Sunday at Oakland Hills. ... International players won three majors this year as Harrington took the British Open and PGA and Trevor Immelman of South Africa won the Masters. It was the first time they won more than two since 1994 when South African Nick Price won two (PGA and British) and Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal (Masters) and South Africa's Ernie Els (U.S. Open) each won one. ... Foreign players won the two previous PGAs at Oakland Hills: South Africa's Gary Player in 1972 and Australia's David Graham seven years later. ... Steve Flesch made the only final-round birdie at 18, hitting an approach from 112 yards into the cup at the par 4. ... Just like the 1996 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills, only three players finished under par.

AP Sports Writer Rusty Miller and freelance writer Dave Hogg contributed to this report.

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