It was overshadowed in the drama of another riveting finish in the PGA Championship – the most consistently exciting of the four majors, dating to Steve Elkington’s playoff win at Riviera Country Club in 1995. But one of the subplots of the year’s final major, which featured eight former major champions among its final top 10, with Phil Mickelson prevailing by a stroke, was how close Tiger Woods came to pulling off golf’s first Grand Slam in 75 years. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Few thought Woods needed to change anything after he won the Masters by 12 strokes in 1997, his first full year on tour. But he was tinkering with his swing the following year and heard questions about it until 2000 when he won nine times, including three majors, after an eight-win season in 1999. More adjustments, it turned out, were in the works after Woods added five more wins each year from 2001 to 2003. His latest fine-tuning, which left him with just one victory last year, has led to a resurgence this year with four wins including two majors to run his career tour victory total to 44. The only thing more impressive than Woods’ win total might be his age. Woods won’t turn 30 until Dec. 30, three weeks after his annual Target World Challenge fundraising tournament at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks. Holtby starts fast: Paul Holtby of Simi Valley led all area professionals after the first round of this week’s Southern California PGA Club Professional Championship at PGA of Southern California Golf Club in Beaumont. The 1998 SCPGA Player of the Year opened with a 3-under-par 69 on the 7,377-yard Champions course, good for a share of fourth place behind first-round leader Matt Viguerie of Mission Viejo (67). The winner of the 54-hole event, which concludes today, will gain berths in three PGA Tour events next year and a Nationwide Tour event this year. The Masters and British Open champion finished two shots back of Michael Campbell at the U.S. Open and two behind Mickelson in the PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., where Woods stormed back with a 69-66-68 finish after a 75 start. No one played better over the final three rounds than Woods, who has returned to the top of the world golf rankings and rarely is questioned about the swing change that has brought about this second wave of dominance in less than 10 years. The section champion receives exemptions into the 2006 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in Palm Desert, Buick Invitational in San Diego and Nissan Open at Riviera. The winner also receives admission into next month’s Nationwide Tour Mark Christopher Charity Classic at Empire Lakes Golf Club in Rancho Cucamonga. Holtby, who teaches at Tom Barber Golf Center in Moorpark, has played in the Buick Invitational and Nissan Open each in the past two seasons by surviving four consecutive Monday qualifying tournaments. He was one of four area pros among the top 10 after the opening round of the section club championship. Scott Heyn of Granada Hills, Scott Miller of Oak Park and Mark Wilson of Westlake Village shared seventh place after posting first-round 70s. Greg Frederick, head pro at Glendale’s Oakmont Country Club and 2002 SCPGA Golf Professional of the Year, opened with a 71 to tie for 12th in a group of 11, including defending champion Chris Starkjohann, who represented the section in last week’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol. Brad Sherfy and John Fiedler of Camarillo, Roger Gunn of Oak Park, Markel Taylor of Thousand Oaks and Richard Greenwood of Agoura Hills are other area entries in the 117-player field, which will advance its top 10 finishers to the 2006 National Club Professional Championship. Another USGA final: Tim Hogarth of Northridge, the 1996 U.S. Public Links titlist, who will compete in his second consecutive U.S. Amateur next week, has added the U.S. Mid-Amateur to the U.S. Golf Association championship tournaments he will play in this summer. The former Cal State Northridge golfer shot a 76 for the low score in a field of 36 in his Mid-Am qualifier at 6,985-yard, par-72 Saticoy Country Club in Somis. Camarillo residents David Strang Jr. and Kevin Todey shot 78s, then survived a five-man playoff to claim the final two Saticoy berths for the Sept. 10-15 Mid-Am Championship, which will be played at The Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn. Jason Goode of Castaic and 1999 Southern California Golf Association champion John Pate of Santa Barbara claimed the two alternate spots. Simi Valley resident Mitch Voges, who won the U.S. Amateur championship at The Honors Course in 1991, also advanced to the playoff. In a U.S. Mid-Am qualifier at 6,518-yard, par-71 San Gabriel Country Club, Dan Sullivan of Pasadena survived a four-man playoff at 70 for the last three of five berths available. Keith Kinsel, the Oakmont Country Club multiple club champion who will join Hogarth and Roy Moon of North Hills as area entries in U.S. Amateur, missed a playoff at the San Gabriel Mid-Am qualifier by a stroke. Greg Lopez of San Clemente shot 68 for the low score in the 80-man qualifier at San Gabriel. Presidents Cup: Jack Nicklaus selected Fred Couples and Justin Leonard tp captain the U.S. team that will play in next month’s Presidents Cup at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in northern Virginia. Leonard, the hero of the U.S. comeback victory in the 1999 Ryder Cup, finished 11th in the point system that gained the top 10 Woods, Mickelson, David Toms, Kenny Perry, Chris DiMarco, Jim Furyk, Fred Funk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III and Scott Verplank automatic spots on the U.S. team. Couples, who finished 17th in the standings, has an 8-3-1 record in Presidents Cup play and is 6-1 at the Jones course that will be used for the Sept. 23-25 competition. “I am trying to represent the United States with the best team we can field,” Nicklaus said. “Not always does the points system reflect what you feel are the best players.” Dave Shelburne covers golf for the Daily News. He can be reached at (818) 713-3609 or [email protected] ON THE GREEN WORLD GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS NEC Invitational at Akron, Ohio Course: Firestone Country Club, South Course (7,360 yards, par-70). Schedule: Thursday-Sunday. Purse: $7.5 million ($1.3 million to winner). TV: ESPN (Thursday-Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.) and Ch. 2 (Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.). PGA TOUR Reno-Tahoe Open at Reno, Nev. Course: Montreux Golf and Country Club (7,472 yards, par-72). Schedule: Thursday-Sunday. Purse: $3 million, ($540,000 to winner). TV: The Golf Channel (Thursday-Sunday, 6-8:30 p.m.). LPGA TOUR Safeway Classic at Portland, Ore. Course: Columbia Edgewater Country Club (6,327 yards, par-72). Schedule: Friday-Sunday. Purse: $1.4 million ($210,000 to winner). TV: The Golf Channel (Friday-Sunday, 1-3 p.m.). CHAMPIONS Greater Seattle Champions Classic at Snoqualmie, Wash. Course: TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge (7,264 yards, par-72). Schedule: Friday-Sunday. Purse: $1.6 million ($240,000 to winner). TV: The Golf Channel (Friday-Sunday, 3-5:30 p.m.). TOP SCORERS PGA Tiger Woods 68.70 Vijay Singh 69.07 Phil Mickelson 69.10 Jim Furyk 69.25 LPGA Annika Sorenstam 69.48 Kristie Kerr 70.96 Paula Creamer 71.17 Lorena Ochoa 71.27 CHAMPIONS Dana Quigley 69.56 Mark McNulty 69.68 D.A. Weibring 69.73 Craig Stadler 69.79 SPOTLIGHT PHIL MICKELSON The 2004 Masters champion won his second major Monday, completing a rain-delayed 67-65-72-72276 effort in the PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. Mickelson’s 4-under-par total put him one stroke ahead of Thomas Bjorn and 1995 PGA Championship winner Steve Elkington. Tiger Woods and Davis Love III finished two strokes behind Mickelson, and recent U.S. Open champions Retief Goosen (2004) and Michael Campbell (2005) were three strokes back in a final top-10 that included eight winners of major championships. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!