Commentary

Competitors get the heat treatment at Southern Hills

Updated: August 9, 2007, 9:13 PM ET
By Bob Harig | Special to ESPN.com

TULSA, Okla. -- John Daly's methods have never been considered conventional, so it only makes sense that his way of beating the heat at Southern Hills Country Club makes no sense at all.

"I actually light up a cigarette and drink some caffeine and it actually works," Long John said after a long day at the PGA Championship.

The temperature didn't hit 100 degrees until 4 p.m. local time Thursday during the first round of the PGA Championship, but it felt like triple digits from early on. The heat has been a big story all week, as temperatures are expected to hit 100 during all four rounds.

"I'm just trying to stay alive out there," said Pat Perez, who opened the tournament with a 70. "It is so hot I can't even think straight. Just stay cool and drink water and just kind of get around."

Golf Fan
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesFans were trying to beat the heat any way possible on Thursday.

The sauna-like conditions figure to be a factor as the tournament proceeds, especially for those in contention during the warmest part of the day -- and the tournament -- come Sunday afternoon.

Graeme Storm was the hottest player on the course during the first round, but that had nothing to do with the temperature. The Englishman, who captured his first European Tour title last month at the French Open, shot a 5-under-par 65 to lead by two strokes over Daly and by three over Arron Oberholser and Woody Austin.

This is Storm's first appearance in the PGA Championship, but he credited his tour's globetrotting for helping with the heat adjustment.

"I think the conditions we play in Asia are a massive help to every European Tour player who is here this week," Storm said. "Going out to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, places like that you get used to the intense heat and humidity."

Daly is accustomed to the same type of weather, having grown up in Arkansas, where he now lives.

But knowing how hot it was kept him away from Southern Hills. He played no practice rounds at the course, opting for a nearby casino resort where he could tool around in a cart.

Then he defied conventional wisdom because "I didn't drink one bit of water," he said.

Daly was alone in that regard.

"You're constantly sweating so you have to dry yourself, dry your arms, your hands and the grip and everything and 15 seconds you're sweating again," Sergio Garcia, who shot 70, said between sips of water afterward. "So it's not easy, it takes a lot of time to get ready. ... It does take a little bit out of you, no doubt. But not only me, I think everybody. You kind of get slower as the day goes on."

"It's pretty hot," said England's Lee Westwood, who shot 69 and is in a nine-way tie for fifth along with British Open champion Padraig Harrington, among others. "But if you don't let the conditions get to you and drink lots of water and stay in the shade whenever possible, it's playable out there."

Tiger Woods opened defense of his PGA title with a 71 that included five bogeys in his final 10 holes. If the heat was bothering him, he wasn't letting on -- at least not much.

"Well, it's warmer than Florida, but nowhere near as humid, which is nice," he said. "That's one of the reasons why you run all those miles out here in the heat and stay in decent shape."

Or, in Daly's case, why you simply try to stay out of the heat.

Bob Harig is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com