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Sunday, August 12, 2007
Austin's big finish nets Presidents Cup berth

By Bob Harig and Jason Sobel
ESPN.com

TULSA, Okla. -- The record books will forever lump Woody Austin with the likes of Bob May and Chris DiMarco, players who could have become unlikely major champions ... if not for some guy named Tiger Woods.

Austin made a run at Woods on the leaderboard in Sunday's final round of the PGA Championship, but his final-round 67 left him 2 strokes shy of the Wanamaker Trophy, in sole possession of second place.

At least there was a consolation prize.

The runner-up finish gave Austin enough points to earn a place on the United States Presidents Cup roster, the first time he will represent the country in international competition.

Woody Austin
Austin claimed the final automatic spot on the Presidents Cup roster.

"That makes me real happy, because I've always wanted to be in one of those things," said Austin, who ranked 18th on the U.S. points list entering the week. "I think my personality suits that kind of competition. I'd like to think that my personality is a lot like Tiger's, very out there, very emotional, and I think in that format, in a team format, in a two-man or a one-on-one, I like the idea. I like the competition. I like the mano-a-mano, one-on-one, look you in the eye, as opposed to coming out at 8:00 and the other guy comes out at 3:00. I like looking right at you when I'm playing you and I think that's going to be a lot of fun."

Woods, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Charles Howell III, Scott Verplank, David Toms, Steve Stricker, Stewart Cink and Austin comprise the first 10 players to make the U.S. roster.

Austin's inclusion on the team knocked out Lucas Glover, who also came agonizingly close to making the Ryder Cup team a year ago, only to fall short.

Of course, he still has a chance. U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus and International captain Gary Player will each announce two captain's selection at 10 a.m. ET on Monday morning. Among the candidates for the spots on Nicklaus' squad are Glover, Chris DiMarco, Davis Love III, John Rollins, Chad Campbell, Hunter Mahan, Brett Wetterich and Mark Calcavecchia.

Meanwhile, Player's first 10 team members reads like a who's who in professional golf, with each player currently ranked inside the top 25 on the Official World Golf Ranking. Ernie Els, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Geoff Ogilvy, K.J. Choi, Rory Sabbatini, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Angel Cabrera and Stuart Appleby have secured their spots in the event, which will take place on Sept. 27-30 at Royal Montreal Golf Club.

The only change to that list on Sunday was Appleby, who finished T-12, bumping recent riser Andres Romero from the final spot.

"It's a very interesting animal," Appleby said of the team competition. "I played well [two years ago]. Didn't win many matches, really, but I loved the way I played. I'll be taking that attitude into this year."

Tough on Sunday

Tiger Woods again showed how difficult he is to play with on a Sunday of a major championship when he is leading. Heading into the final round at the PGA, Woods had a 69.25 scoring average in the 12 previous majors he had won compared to 72.92 for those who were paired with him. Only Bob May (66 to 67 at the 2000 PGA) and Chris DiMarco (68 to 71 at the 2005 Masters) scored lower in the final round, and both lost in a playoff. Woods shot 69 Sunday and Stephen Ames had 76 to tumble to a tie for 12th, 10 strokes back.

Fired up Phil

Phil Mickelson did not have a very good PGA Championship, but at least he is looking forward to playing more golf. Mickelson typically is ready to call it quits for the year after the PGA. But with the upcoming FedEx Cup playoffs and the fact that he missed time due to a wrist injury, Mickelson is intent on playing.

"I'm excited to play the next few weeks because I haven't been able to really compete much the last three months," said Mickelson, who shot 69 by making 17 pars and a birdie Sunday. "And I'm also excited about kind of having the season end a little bit earlier and being able to play some other events or take some time off."

Mickelson lamented the lost opportunities due to a wrist injury he suffered before the U.S. Open at Oakmont, where he missed the cut. He also missed the cut at the British Open. That came after a victory at the Players Championship in May that seemed to set him up for another run at challenging Tiger Woods.

"I consider the Players Championship to be a pretty special event, so that's kind of what salvaged the year for me is winning that," Mickelson said. "Winning that has still kind of made me look at the year very positively."

Making the cut

Just seven players made the cut in all four major championships this year, led by Tiger Woods, who went 2-2-12-1 in his four appearances. Scott Verplank was the only other American to play the weekend of all four majors.

The other five players were all from Europe: Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Niclas Fasth.

Woods and Westwood have the longest streak of cuts in majors at six.