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Tiger, Phil can't find the answers

Tiger Woods of the United States chats with

Tiger Woods of the United States chats with his caddie Joe LaCava during the third round of the 95th PGA Championship. (Aug. 10, 2013) Credit: Getty

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Three weekends ago Phil Mickelson was saying how he never believed he could win the British Open.

What he said Saturday after a disastrous third round of the PGA Championship was nothing. But he did sign a great many autographs.

As continuing proof golfing success is hard to capture, Mickelson in a matter of days went from first, in the Open, to next-to-last in the PGA. His eight-over par 78 at a much tougher Oak Hill Country Club left him at 10-over 220, ahead of only Gary Woodland, who shot 80 for 223.

Mickelson, No. 2 in the world rankings, and Tiger Woods, No. 1, gave the early crowd a couple of star attractions, but not a couple of contenders.

Mickelson teed off at 10:25 a.m., exactly four and a half hours ahead of second-round leaders Jason Dufner and Adam Scott.

Woods went at 11:05, and if his 3-over 73 wasn't what he wanted, Woods did offer a few comments about his round -- "I didn't play very well today" -- and again out of contention for his 15th major. He trails leader Jim Furyk by 13 shots.

"Just one of those weeks," Woods conceded, "where I didn't hit it quite well enough and didn't make enough putts."

Woods opened with a bogey and, with bogies at three, 16 and 17, and a lone birdie, at 11, never made it to even par the rest of the round. Including four rounds in the 2003 PGA, he has played seven rounds at Oak Hill and never had a round under par.

"Pressing it?" he said rhetorically when someone asked. "Yeah, at times when I'm underneath the trees and I'm in bunkers and trying to get up-and-down. Yeah.

"As far as overall game plan and the way I'm playing, I'm been in enough of these things where I've been right there on the back nine and on Sunday with a chance. As far as that's concerned, no."

Mickelson knew he was in trouble from the first day. After a 1-over 71 Thursday that included two double bogies, he summoned swing coach Butch Harmon out of the booth where Harmon was broadcasting for Britain's Sky TV, for a quick lesson in near darkness.

"I was working on the exact opposite thing we needed to do; I'm glad I had a few minutes with him," Mickelson said then.

He followed that with another 71 Friday. Then Saturday came the 78 with a triple-bogey seven on seven -- at the time Mickelson was even for the round -- and a double on 14. He finished bogey, par, bogey, bogey, 3-putting 18.

Woods won last week's Bridgestone, shooting 61 the second day, and the question was whether the success would carry over to the year's last major. It didn't.

"That's golf," said a philosophical Woods. "We don't play well every week. Unfortunately, what I got happened to be this week. I just haven't got my takeaway right. It's off. Just one of those weeks where it's a fraction off, and it's going to cost me."

Woods has now played 18 majors since his victory in the 2008 U.S. Open. He will not get his next chance for his 15th major until the Masters in April.

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