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Published Aug. 8, 2007

The sun had just begun to cast a pink glow on the edges of morning clouds Tuesday when Tiger Woods stood on the first tee at Southern Hills, his typical predawn start of his practice rounds in the majors.

It is rare when he has to wait on anyone but the maintenance crew. But this PGA Championship is different.

With temperatures pushing 100 degrees, Southern Hills was bustling before breakfast with players teeing off on both nines, everyone wanting to finish playing before being soaked in sweat. The heat is such that the PGA Championship ordered 21 power fans to blow cool air on the greens to keep them from getting baked before Thursday.

But the early start also smacked of desperation at the final major of the year, especially for Woods.

This is the fifth time in his career that the world's No. 1 player arrived at the PGA Championship without already having won a major. Only once did he come through, at Medinah in 1999. Despite 67 wins around the world, including four this year on the Tour, Woods measures success in the four biggest events of the year.

"It's been pretty good, but not great," he said after his final practice round. "I just think the major championships are valued that highly, and I've come close. Just haven't got it done yet."

He has had his chances.

Woods spent too much time in the trees, bunkers and water at Augusta National and was two behind Zach Johnson at the Masters. His only meaningful putts on the back nine at Oakmont were for par, and he wound up one behind Angel Cabrera in the U.S. Open. He never hit the ball close at Carnoustie, settling for a tie for 12th at the British Open.

His cumulative score in a year of tough majors is 7 over par, five shots better than the next best player, Jim Furyk.

But no trophies.

Woods is not alone. Furyk was tied for the lead at Oakmont until bogeying the 17th hole of the final round. Retief Goosen couldn't make birdie on the back nine at the Masters. Ernie Els couldn't catch the leaders at Carnoustie. Phil Mickelson hasn't even made the cut in the past two majors.

But most of the attention falls on Woods. He won the last two majors of 2006 and was closing in fast on Jack Nicklaus' benchmark of 18 professional majors, but he seems to have stalled.

And even after an eight-shot win last week at Firestone, there are questions whether his game is a good fit for Southern Hills.

"I tend to get that at courses where I played there once and didn't win," Woods said, sounding slightly defensive.


PGA Championship

When: Thursday-Sunday.

Where: Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, Okla.

TV: TNT (Thursday-Friday, 2-8 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.) and Ch. 10 (Saturday-Sunday, 2-7 p.m.).