Woods seizes control at Southern Hills

Tiger Woods, Third Round, PGA Championship
John Biever/SI
Woods made two birdies and one bogey Saturday.

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Tiger Woods draped a blue towel over sagging shoulders, looking like a heavyweight who had gone the distance.

You should have seen the other guys.

Woods set modest goals that led to great expectations Saturday in the PGA Championship, turning in a 1-under 69 in torrid temperatures at Southern Hills to build a three-shot lead over Stephen Ames.

He has never lost a major when leading after 36 holes. He has never lost any tournament anywhere in the world when leading by more than one shot going into the final round.

"I've always enjoyed being out in front," said Woods, who was at 7-under 203. "And hopefully, tomorrow I can go ahead and play the way I've been playing the last few days."

No one conceded the final major to the world's No. 1 player.

But it sure sounded that way.

"If you're trying to win a tournament like this, he's the wrong guy to let get out ahead of you," Scott Verplank said after a 74 that made him look more like a bystander than a contender.

"He knows he's going to win," Arron Oberholser said after an even-par 70 left him seven shots behind. "I think the scary thing is that maybe he knows that you know he's going to win."

Saving his best golf for the final major, Woods followed his record-tying score of 63 with a round that wasn't anything special but no less effective. He made 15 pars, two of them with 10-foot putts that kept him in control early, and rarely took on the flags.

"I accomplished my goal today," Woods said. "My goal was to shoot under par and increase my lead. And I was able to do that."

Five players remained under par, and only Ernie Els (69) at 1-under 209 has experience winning a major.

"The statistics will tell you, yes, it is over," Els said. "But as a competitor, I can't sit there and tell you it's over. I can't ever do that."

But if he were watching from his house?

"If I was not a golfer - a fan on the couch - I'd be putting my house on him, yeah," Els said.

Woods made it look as though this were a Sunday afternoon and he was protecting his lead, playing away from trouble and rarely having to work too hard for par. He picked up his birdies with a 6-foot putt on No. 4 and a 12-footer on the 12th that stretched his lead to five at one point Saturday.

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