February 11 2012
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Charlie Wi has never won in seven years on the PGA TOUR. After a 3-under 69 Saturday at Spyglass Hill, he’s one round away from doing just that.
The 40-year-old who played junior golf against Tiger Woods leads by three shots over Ken Duke and four over Woods at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where he’s one of only three players to have recorded all three rounds in the 60s so far.
Of course as the last two weeks have shown, finishing it off is a lot easier said than done.
“I’m sure I'll be fighting my demons all day [Sunday],” Wi said. “It's how I handle myself tomorrow; it's not what other players are doing. It's how I handle myself tomorrow is going to be the outcome of the tournament.”
The last time Wi was in this position was at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, where he finished second after a final-round 69.
David Toms went on to win that day. This time, Wi has Woods, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson chasing him. Mickelson and Johnson are both tied for fourth, along with Hunter Mahan, six shots back.
Among that group, Woods and Johnson have the most history here.
Johnson won this tournament in 2009 and 2010. Woods hasn’t played this event since 2002, but he won it in 2000 and later that year won the U.S. Open here.
It’s been more than two years since Woods last won on the PGA TOUR -- his victory last December came at the Chevron World Challenge, an unofficial event. Asked what the difference was between his days of winning regularly on TOUR and now, Woods said there isn’t much.
“It's a different swing, but the scenario doesn't change,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to win a golf tournament.
“The whole idea of making these swing changes was to become more consistent and I'm starting to see that now. My start lines are much tighter now. I don't hit the ball as far off line as I used to, and my ball doesn't curve as much. So consequently my off-days are not as far off.”
He certainly wasn’t off Saturday, at least in first first nine holes on the back side at Pebble Beach. Woods rattled off four birdies in a six-hole stretch to make the turn in 32 before adding another two holes later.
Johnson shouldn’t be overlooked, either. He started off with back-to-back bogeys at Monterey Peninsula Country Club before rallying to finish even par. That left him in a four-way tie for fourth at 9 under with Phil Mickelson, Kevin Na and Hunter Mahan, who finished second here last year.