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Azinger wants title, then Cup

By BOB HARIG

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 18, 2001


DULUTH, Ga. -- Bradenton's Paul Azinger would love to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team. He'd rather win the PGA Championship.

Winning the tournament would all but guarantee Azinger a spot on the U.S. team, his first since 1993, the year he was diagnosed with cancer.

"I don't have any trouble separating the two because this tournament means a heck of a lot more to me than the Ryder Cup," said Azinger, whose 67 on Friday at Atlanta Athletic Club put him at 135, tied for 11th, four shots behind co-leaders Shingo Katayama and David Toms. "I'm not slighting the Ryder Cup in any way. ... It's all about winning major championships and the Ryder Cup is a bonus. I know it's there. I would be lying if I said I didn't know it was there, but I would have to do something spectacular to make the team."

Azinger is in 19th place in the Ryder Cup standings, with the top 10 after the PGA earning an automatic spot. Azinger needs at least a third-place finish to move into the top 10, assuming there is no movement ahead of him.

But Toms, Chris DiMarco and Brad Faxon -- ahead of him in the standings -- are playing well and in position to finish in the top 10 and earn points. Tom Lehman, who is in 10th place, however, missed the cut.

"I haven't played on the Ryder Cup team since 1993. It did just fine without me last time," Azinger said. "But my, I would like to play. So I'll just do the best I can do to play the best I can in this event."

WHEW!: Two late, improbable birdies by Tiger Woods will keep him around for the weekend. For much of the day, it appeared Woods might not make the 36-hole cut, which would have been the first time in a major championship since the 1996 Masters, when he was an amateur. It also would have halted his streak of 73 PGA Tour events making the cut.

"You have to always give it everything you have," said Woods, whose 3-under 67 put him at par 140, tied for 57th. The cut came at 141. "That's what I did. I didn't hit the ball great, but I hung in there and hung in there. Sooner or later, you hope it's going to turn around. I'm pleased to make it."

Woods did so despite hitting just seven of 14 fairways and only 12 of 18 greens in regulation. He made a 40-footer for birdie from off the green at the 15th hole, then followed with a 30-footer at the 16th. Those got him to par.

"To be able to turn it around like that, when things aren't going well. ... I'm very pleased with that," Woods said.

63!: Mark O'Meara became just the ninth player in PGA Championship history to shoot 63 and the 20th overall in a majorHe was tied for 11th.

"I played a very solid, consistent round of golf and if a guy goes out there and makes some putts and shoots 63, then you've got to tip your hat to that," O'Meara said. "But it's not easy, trust me. I think the key really was driving the ball in the fairway."

DIVOTS: Greg Norman shot 68 to make his first cut in a major since the 2000 Masters. ... Among some of the high profile players who missed the cut: U.S. Open runner-up Mark Brooks, Bernhard Langer, Sergio Garcia, Lee Janzen and John Daly. ... Former PGA champion Lanny Wadkins is struggling on the Senior PGA Tour, so he didn't figure to do well here. Still, scores of 86-85?

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