Wed, Aug 08, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Woods, Southern Hills share billing


Tiger Woods signs autographs for fans at the 18th green after a practice round prior to the start of the PGA Championship at the Southern Hills Country Club on Monday in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Golfers might call it the 89th PGA Championship, but promotional posters around this sun-roasted city hype this year's final major event like a boxing match -- "Tiger versus Southern Hills."

Forget the other 155 starters. Forget the fact first-time major champions have captured this year's three prior majors, taken five of six prior majors at Southern Hills Country Club and won seven of the past 12 PGA Championships.

In this corner, defending champion Woods seeks his 13th major triumph in quest of Jack Nicklaus' career record of 18. Woods won his fourth title of the year on Sunday at the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational.

"I feel like I'm in better shape heading into this one than I did going into the last major," said Woods, who was 12th last month at the British Open after sharing runner-up honors at the Masters and US Open.

"You never want to be shut out," he said. "You never want to have a year where you don't win a major."

Against Woods stands a 71-year-old course that has denied the superstar two times. Woods shared 21st place in the 1996 Tour Championship here as a rookie and tied for 12th at the 2001 US Open, his first major loss after the "Tiger Slam."

"It's definitely one of the best tests we will ever play," Woods said. "You have to place the golf ball correctly, off the tees as well as firing at the pins. If you're not hitting the ball well you will definitely be exposed."

Fitness flaws will play a role as well with scorching heat and a devilishly difficult course turning Southern Hills into Southern Hell for golf's greatest players.

Excessive heat warnings are expected through Sunday with temperatures expected to reach 39oC and dip no lower than about 27oC at night.

The hottest daily temperature ever recorded at a major golf event was here at 37oC at the 1970 PGA Championship.

Ray Floyd fired a course-record 63 in 38.8oC heat to win the 1982 PGA Championship.

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