Tiger Woods once won 'a boatload' of money from Mark O'Meara while shooting a 59
AKRON, Ohio – Maybe one reason Tiger Woods isn't that impressed by anyone shooting 59 is that he's already done it.
Granted, it was in a 1997 match with his good friend and fellow pro Mark O'Meara at Isleworth in Florida.
But a lot was riding on it.
"He lost a boatload," Woods said after flirting with 59 before finishing off a 61 on Friday in the second round of the Bridgestone Invitational.
But that wasn't even the worst of it for O'Meara, the 1998 Masters and British Open winner.
"The very next day an even better story is that we played nine holes and I was 5 under through nine holes, then I parred 10 and made a hole in one at 11," Woods said to loud laughter. "He just drove his cart home."
BEST OF SHOW: Woods said he's had lots of better rounds than the 61 that left him with a seven-stroke lead through 36 holes.
He mentioned all four rounds at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and three more during the 1997 Masters.
"That's seven right there," he said.
But even he conceded he was in a prime position to break 60. He needed to play the final five holes in 2 under to become only the sixth player to shoot 59 in a PGA Tour event.
"Would it have been nice to shoot 59? Yeah, it would have been nice," Woods said. "I certainly had the opportunity."
COMING BACK: The sting of defeat lasts. But sooner or later, even elite athletes have to let go.
A year ago at the Bridgestone Invitational, Jim Furyk shot a 7-under 63 in the opening round, then led by two shot after 36 holes and a stroke through three rounds.
He also led throughout the final round. But then, with the crystal championship trophy within reach, he double-bogeyed the 72nd hole. Keegan Bradley, who had played steady, solid golf all weekend, finished strong to beat Furyk out by a stroke.
There has to be an expiration date on the regret.
"A week or two. I mean, there's events throughout my career that have bothered me, events I thought I should have won or I could have won except for a shot here or there," said Furyk, winner of the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields. "That goes in a catalog of those events. But the guys who dwell on that sort of thing and don't get over it end up kind of hitting roadblocks in their careers. And that's never been an issue for me."
Champions need to handle victory as well as defeat. Furyk was able to have a solid year in 2012 despite a late collapse at the U.S. Open — where he led after 36 and 54 holes.
"It's done with. It's gone," he said of the ones that got away. "I get upset about it, but I think of a lot of major championships I had the opportunity to win and I was just that close and didn't get over the hump. The tough ones bother you for a week or two, or me at least, and then it's gone.
"By the time I show up to play the next event, it's out of my system or it's really not worth showing up."
Furyk said it was essential to realize that there's nothing that can be done about a failure like his one bad hole a year ago at the Bridgestone.
"The way I look at it really is last year was last year," he said. "I'll never get it back and there's no sense in really dwelling on it. I got it out of my system and thought about how I could have handled the situation better and how I could have played that hole better."
At 4-under 136, Furyk was tied for sixth, nine back of Woods.
ONE TOURNAMENT AT A TIME: With the PGA Championship at Oak Hill looming next week, no one would blame a player out of contention in Akron for thinking ahead to the final major championship of the year.
But Angel Cabrera doesn't buy it.
Asked if there is ever a point in the final round of a tournament the week before a major if he starts preparing instead of playing the course in front of him, he answered with a question.
"Por que?" he said. Why?
Through his manager, the 43-year-old Argentinian added, "No, no. I'm playing THIS week. I'm playing THIS tournament. I'm focusing on THIS tournament. I'm not thinking about the PGA."
Yet Rickie Fowler says there are times when a pro might also be tuning up for the next stop while he's playing off the pace in another event.
"There's definitely times where you're going on the back nine and you're basically out of the tournament," he said. "Obviously, you want to play well at any point. But sometimes you're struggling, you come down to the last few holes and maybe you're seven (shots) back with four (holes) to play. You're kind of out of the tournament. You obviously want to finish strong, but that's a point where you're able to maybe try to get into a little bit of a rhythm, get things going and make some good swings to get ready for the following week."
CREATURE OF HABIT: Bradley says he's been following the same menu as he did last year in winning the Bridgestone.
"I've been eating at the same place every day, like I did last year," he said with a smile. "It's good memories here."
He said he didn't order the same meal every day.
Asked if he ate for free as a defending champ, he said, "No, you don't."
TREADING WATER: Rory McIlroy is trying to string together a few good rounds before defending his PGA Championship next week at Oak Hill.
So far, his game has just been OK. He opened with a 70 and followed with a second-round 71.
"I didn't hit many fairways and didn't hit many greens but I was happy with how I hung in there," he said. "I just need to work a little bit on the range this afternoon, just to try to straighten (things) out a little bit."
McIlroy, who won a year ago by eight strokes at Kiawah Island, said he's looking forward to his role as the defending champion.
"It's always nice to defend a major championship. It's the second one that I've done," he said, referring to his win at the 2011 U.S. Open. "I'm looking forward to it. I'll be busier with a few things going on, but it's a nice problem to have."
DIVOTS: The field will go off in threesomes off both tees from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Saturday's third round. Scattered thunderstorms are forecast to pass through the area earlier in the morning. ... Woods has shot 61 four times on tour. The only other player to have done that multiple times is Robert Gamez (two). ... The largest lead Woods has ever lost through 36 holes is four strokes in the 2009 PGA Championship when he finished second to Y.E. Yang. ... The average score Friday was 71.192. ... Players who lost at least 10 shots to Woods in the second round included Jason Day, Ernie Els, Peter Hanson, Paul Lawrie, Ian Poulter and U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (all with 72s).
Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP