Commentary

Here's to hoping for PGA excitement

Originally Published: August 14, 2010
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- How do I say this delicately? This PGA Championship is duller than watching Herb Kohler's beard grow, more boring than a recap of your neighbor's fantasy cricket league draft.

Three rounds have come and gone and I don't know whether to doze off or leap from the Met Life blimp. Right now it's only slightly more interesting than a Martha Stewart segment on decoupaging bangle bracelets.

As I type these words, China's Wenchong Liang is in the Whistling Straits media center detailing the course-record 64 he shot here Saturday. Thing is, I'm not even sure 1.3 billion Chinese care.

As Liang prepared to hit his approach shot into the final hole, exactly 28 people were in his gallery. As he walked onto the green, a tournament official had to resort to a cheat sheet when announcing his name.

I'm going to be honest: I'd never heard of the guy until Thursday -- and I cover golf on a semi-regular basis. Now, at 9-under-par, he might win a major.

According to an interpreter, Liang said this of his round: "[It] makes people realize that there is actually professional golfers in China and so this is a very special round."

[+] EnlargeWenchong Liang
Andrew Redington/Getty ImagesWenchong Liang came within a birdie of tying the major championship record of 63. His 64 still set the competitive course record at Whistling Straits.

What he really said: "Damn, these mosquitoes. I'm down a pint of B-positive."

Nothing against Liang and most everybody else on the leaderboard, but it would be nice if Sunday were more interesting than Saturday. Or Friday. Or Thursday. It would be nice if there were some actual drama.

The PGA Championship needs to chug an energy drink. There's plenty of red on the board, but no real juice. When the most exciting moment of the week is a catfight between U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin and the Golf Channel's Jim Gray, you've got problems.

We don't need another British Open, where an unknown laps the Sunday field. That's what Louis Oosthuizen did -- fair and square -- at St. Andrews last month, but it made for a buzz-sapping final round. By the end of his rout, tens of people were still watching their tellies.

Oosthuizen didn't make the PGA Championship cut, by the way. Neither did U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell. So much for majors momentum.

Masters champ Phil Mickelson (and his New York Yankees replica pinstripe pants) made it and then shot a 1-over-par 73 in his third round. You can fit Lake Michigan between Lefty and Nick Watney's lead at 13-under.

Tiger Woods wasn't much better. He shot a par 72 and is an impossible 10 strokes out of the lead. Woods has what appears to be a new swing coach (Sean Foley was working with him on the range Saturday morning), but he keeps making old mistakes.

For instance, he was all over the course, struggled at times with his putter and is playing the par-5s at 1-over for the tournament. That's like George Clooney forgetting to be handsome.

Woods is trying to play his way onto the Ryder Cup team. He's 10th in the point standings, one spot behind Dustin Johnson and two spots behind Lucas Glover, who went trunk slamming on Saturday morning. The top eight get automatic bids.

Barring a complete Bridgestone-like meltdown Sunday, it appears Woods will make the team, most likely as a captain's pick. But he could do the PGA Championship a huge favor and shoot something in the 60s for a change. He doesn't have one sub-70 score in his last 10 rounds. Of course, that's what happens when you're trying to repair a car while it's still moving.

The day wasn't a complete waste. I saw Martin Kaymer, who enters the final round tied for fourth, chunk a chip so badly that someone should have revoked his courtesy car. I saw a Mickelson shot settle near a spectator's belly button. (Lefty got a free drop and the spectator got an autographed glove.) I saw Tom Lehman sink a 223-yard putt on the par-3 No. 17 (OK, it was a 4-iron.)

So in review, no Tiger threat, no Phil threat, no Jim Gray cage match, no fog (thank god), no reigning U.S. Open or British Open champions, no more Sergio Garcia tantrums (sigh), no drama.

But there's hope for Sunday.

There are 14 players within seven strokes of the lead. One of those players is Rory McIlroy, who is a majors champion waiting to happen. He's three shots back. Another one of those players is bomber Bubba Watson, who is six strokes off the lead. I'd pay to watch Watson hit driving range balls.

There's Mr. 64 -- Liang.

There's the possibility of Tiger being Tiger again.

There's the possibility of Mickelson wearing Milwaukee Brewers pants.

And there's the Johnson storyline. Johnson, who bungled away the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, gets a chance at majors redemption and a guaranteed Ryder Cup invitation. He once hit a 407-yard drive in a Walker Cup match, so just think if he gets geeked for the final round.

"Tomorrow's going to be a good show to see," he said.

It's about time.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here.

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