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NOTES

Harmon's Review Surprises Woods

June 20, 2004|Chris Dufresne and Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writers

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — Tiger Woods made eagle two on the par-four 18th hole with a sand wedge from 106 yards, pretty much summing up the only positive news for him in this 104th U.S. Open.

Woods' eagle took some of the sting out of an otherwise abysmal outing at Shinnecock Hills in which he shot three-over 73.

Woods stands at four-over 214 through 54 holes, nine shots off the lead.

Saturday, Woods fought off four bogeys, a double bogey and, afterward, charges from former swing coach Butch Harmon that Woods is "in denial" about his golf game.

Harmon, working as an analyst for British broadcast company Sky TV, said his former client needed to come to grips with the fact his game was on the decline.

Woods has made the cut in 32 straight major tournaments and 125 overall, yet has gone seven majors since winning his last, the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage.

That was the last time Woods and Harmon worked together.

"For him to stand there in every interview and say he's getting close and he feels really good about what he's doing, I think he's in denial," Harmon said on Sky TV.

After his round Saturday, Woods reacted to Harmon's comments.

"I don't understand why he would ever say anything like that, especially when we've been as close as we are," Woods said. "And we've resolved everything, I thought. I thought everything would have been cool.

"For him to go off and say things like that, I don't understand where he's coming from. It doesn't do himself or anyone any good to do that."

Woods said he thought he and Harmon were friends, and that any critical comments should have been made "face-to-face."

"And that's what we used to do, and I think that's the way it should have been handled," Woods said.

On the course, Woods said his eagle on No. 18 could provide momentum for today's final round.

"I tell you what," he said of the shot, "that definitely put me back in the tournament, where if the wind blows and I play a great round of golf, I can still win this tournament."

*

Here's the money breakdown for today's top five finishers:

1: $1.125 million.

2: $675,000.

3: $424,604.

4: $295,910.

5: $239,602.

*

Tim Clark of South Africa claimed low round of the day with his four-under 66.

The effort boosted Clark from a tie for 34th place after two rounds to seventh heading into today's final round.

He stands at one-under 209 and says winning the tournament isn't out of the question.

"You never know," Clark said. "If the wind blows tomorrow, even a couple under [par] will be right in there."

*

It's not hard for Scott Hoch to speak his mind, so on the heels of announcing his dislike for Shinnecock Hills, he offered his opinion about the pace of play.

Playing in the first pairing, Hoch, who shot a 73, completed his round in three hours and 18 minutes. His partner, Cliff Kresge, had a 77.

"We played normal. It's just other guys just take a long time to play. I was playing good, [Kresge] wasn't.

"I think we're supposed to play in four hours, 30 minutes and that's an absolute crock. That's the first two days. That's an absolute joke. We can't play in less than five hours, and they don't enforce slow play."

*

Lee Westwood, who had a 73, believes it will be easier in the fourth round.

"The only saving grace is that the flags will be easier," he said. "There aren't many difficult flag positions left after today."

Even though he shot a 70, Chris DiMarco said the conditions were brutal all day at Shinnecock. Then he sounded a warning about what could happen next.

"If they get a 30- or 40-mph wind, the course could be unplayable because the greens are that severe and they're dead. They're rock hard and they're dead."

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