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1996 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP | NOTES

PGA Is Still a Major Problem for Watson After Bogeying 12, 13

August 12, 1996|THOMAS BONK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For a while Sunday, it was like old times. Everything had an oddly familiar appearance. It was the last day of a major championship and Tom Watson was making a charge. He began the last day eight shots behind the leader, but then birdied six of the first 10 holes and got within two shots of the lead in the only major championship he never has won.

"I said 'Game's on,' " Watson said.

Soon, though, the game was over. It wasn't the crowd's fault. Fans strained against the gallery ropes and shouted encouragement to the 46-year-old redhead.

Watson smiled and acknowledged the good wishes, but it just didn't save him from back-to-back bogeys on No. 12, when he three-putted, and No. 13, when he drove into the rough, then gambled and went for the green, but knocked his second shot into the water with a pitching wedge.

"That killed my chances right there," Watson said. "I needed to have a mistake-free round, and those are two mistakes here that killed me."

There were no more birdies, just another bogey at the 18th and a chance to think about what he had lost--one of the few remaining chances he has to win the PGA.

"Well, I made a little run there and it was fun," Watson said. "I knew I had a chance to win and I made a good run at it for 11 holes."

Watson is a five-time British Open champion and has won the Masters twice and the U.S. Open once, but he wanted very badly to complete his major championships with a victory at the PGA.

His closing 69 meant Watson finished at six-under-par 282, five shots behind Mark Brooks.

"I'm more than mildly disappointed because I had that opportunity to win," he said.

*

It wasn't a very good week for Nick Faldo, who closed with a 73, wound up at three-over-par 291 and tied for 65th--his worst finish in four rounds of a major championship.

Faldo's previous low-water mark was the 1977 British Open, when he finished tied for 62nd. He was 20.

"The golf course has done all right this week," Faldo said. "It beat me."

*

Greg Norman injured his back on the driving range before the fourth round. He finished with a 73 and tied for 17th.

"I had my trainer with me and we couldn't put my back in position," Norman said. "I knew it was going to be an awkward day."

Norman's scorecard for this year's majors also includes a second-place finish at the Masters, a tie for 10th at the U.S. Open and a tie for seventh at the British Open.

*

The PGA announced that it will return to Valhalla Golf Club in four years to stage the PGA Championship in 2000. The PGA also said it intended to purchase the club. . . . Russ Cochran's wife, Jackie, arrived at Valhalla only 20 minutes before her husband, the leader going into the day, teed off. While he was preparing for his round, Jackie was still back at their hotel taking care of their daughter, Kelly, who came down with flu. As it turned out, Jackie Cochran might have been better off staying away. Her husband shot 77.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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