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NOTES

Baird Hopes to Make His Move

August 17, 2003|Thomas Bonk and Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writers

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Briny Baird got his first name courtesy of his mom, who just liked it, and may have gotten his golf ability from his father, Butch Baird, but the 31-year-old from Florida has a chance to make a name for himself today at Oak Hill Country Club.

Baird's 67 moved him into a tie for fifth at the PGA Championship and even though he'll start five shots behind co-leaders Chad Campbell and Shaun Micheel, he thinks he has as good a shot as anybody.

"Guys play well on certain weeks," he said. "There's no reason why Tiger Woods didn't play well today other than that he didn't play well. It's not because the golf course doesn't suit his game, like all of the other majors did when he won those.

"Golf is at a great stage now that you have a lot of great players that the ... public haven't heard about. Or if they have, they don't expect them to play well on Saturdays and Sundays."

Baird endorses a charity and carries the picture of a missing child on the sleeve of his golf bag each week. For each birdie and eagle, Canon donates money to the program and nearly $32,000 has been raised so far.

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Not only is Woods playing poorly, he also has had to answer for some questionable golf etiquette.

On Friday, Woods nearly drove the green on the short, 323-yard, par-four 14th hole.

The problem was the group ahead, Carl Pettersson, John Rollins and Shingo Katayama, had not cleared the 14th green.

Woods explained that he misjudged the shot after his partner Rich Beem hit his tee shot.

"He said, 'I hit that solid,' and he couldn't quite get there," Woods said. "So there was no way I could get there, and I have no idea how it ended up going that far. I apologized for what I did."

*

Don't try this at home, these guys are pros: Ireland's Padraig Harrington changed the grip on his driver 30 minutes before Saturday's tee time.

"I changed it because it had just been annoying me," he said. "I haven't used my driver much; it hasn't been great for two days. I changed it last night, looked at it this morning; it was horrible again and changed it. It just really upset me and took five holes before I could settle down."

Harrington got off to a rough start, bogeying two of the first three holes.

"I'd say I have hit three of the worst shots since I turned pro," he still.

Somehow, though, Harrington recovered to shoot one-under 69 and moved to seven-over 217 through 54 holes.

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On the 20th anniversary of his only major title -- the 1983 PGA Championship at Riviera -- Hal Sutton shot a 67 and felt good about his game. Next year's Ryder Cup captain moved to three-over 213.

"I have been working hard on my golf swing and it has been getting better," Sutton said.

"I think we'll be in the ballgame at the end of the game. All you can do is tee it up on that first tee and put it in the fairway from there. I said at the beginning of the week I wanted to elevate my expectations. My game was beginning to elevate itself."

Sutton has four top 10s this year and has won $862,511.

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Four under through 10 holes, Jay Haas thought he was onto something special, but he bogeyed the last two holes and wound up with a 69.

"I made a lot of putts on the front, but not on the back. I got what I deserved."

*

The 17th hole at Oak Hill is a 495-yard dogleg right par four that is chewing everybody up. If heavy rough and pines aren't enough trouble on the left side of the fairway, then there's an undulating green that makes stopping the ball close to the hole as tough as it gets.

It's played more difficult than any hole this week, and by far -- 172 bogeys. It ranks as the toughest hole to score, playing to an average of 4.56 shots. On Saturday, only 24.3% of the players hit the green in regulation.

*

Micheel is trying to become the seventh player to win the PGA Championship in his first appearance, joining Jim Barnes (1916), Tom Creavy (1931), Bob Hamilton (1944), Doug Ford (1955), Bob Tway (1986) and John Daly (1991).

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