PGA Championship live blog
Throughout this week, ESPN.com golf editor Jason Sobel will be live blogging from the PGA Championship, bringing you inside information and analysis from Southern Hills Country Club. Refresh this page often to keep track of all the entries during each round.
Have a question or comment for Sobel? E-mail him at email@example.com.
6:00 p.m.: OK, folks, like Angel Cabrera after a septy, I am done. Time to go find out if playing the slots will help me shoot a 67, like it did for John Daly today.
Thanks for the questions and comments. See you right back here tomorrow, same time, same place.
5:54 p.m.: Pat Perez shot even-par 70 despite a triple-bogey when he chipped a ball into the water on 6 and a three-putt on 17. Always one of the better quotes on tour, he had some entertaining stuff to say on the heat:
- Q. Pat, talk a little bit about the round today even par score is pretty good especially in these conditions?
PAT PEREZ: I didn't even think about the score. I'm just trying to stay alive out there. It's so hot I can't even think straight. I try not to think about anything. Just stay cool and drink water and just kind of get around. I really didn't think about it today. Just kind of got around.
Q. The way the heat is what do you do over the next couple of days to combat that?
PAT PEREZ: I have no idea. I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow. Tee off at 2:20. It's going to be hot. I don't know what I'm going to do. I must have had ten water bottles today.
5:49 p.m.: Ernie Els on John Daly's solid first round:
- It's nice to see John up there. It's amazing. This golf course doesn't suit his golf game at all and it's nice to see him up there at the top of the leaderboard.
How's that for a backhanded compliment? Pretty safe to say Ernie doesn't think J.D. will tie his career major victory mark this week.
5:32 p.m.: Those 18 players who were under par an hour and 15 minutes ago has dwindled to 13 and counting. Of those, four are still on the course -- John Senden, Padraig Harrington, Woody Austin and J.J. Henry.
Graeme Storm has just completed his round, missing a 5-foot birdie putt to finish with a 5-under 65 to lead by two.
And this one's a freebee for the guys working on the SportsCenter tease back in Bristol: "Temperatures at Tulsa were hot, hot, hot, but there was a Storm brewing on the PGA leaderboard!"
If you use it, I want some royalties. I know where to find you.
5:17 p.m.: It was mentioned a few minutes ago on the telecast that J.J. Henry's brother, Kevin, is caddying for him this week, rather than his usual looper, Matt Hauser. Kevin Henry played at the University of Tulsa and, as a result, I'm guessing he knows this track pretty well.
He wasn't the only one who had that idea. From the Tulsa World:
- Former University of Tulsa golfer Brett Myers was looking for an opportunity to lend his knowledge and expertise of Southern Hills to someone who might need it this week.
Myers, who helped lead TU to NCAA Championship appearances two of the last three years, wrote letters to the top 10 finishers at the club pro championship asking if they needed a caddie for the PGA Championship. He even placed a call to one of them, University of Illinois men's golf coach Mike Small.
Small hired Myers. But Myers said he hasn't had to offer much advice to Small, who is making his seventh PGA Championship appearance.
As I wrote earlier, Small is having a nice round so far. Wonder how much Myers has been a part of that.
5:06 p.m.: E-mail from Rob in Dallas:
- Last year at Hoylake, Graeme McDowell was the first round leader with a 66. How did that work out?
Not well. That Graeme followed his first-round lead with scores of 73-72-79 to finish T-61. Are we saying there is a correlation to the first-round-leading Graemes? My man The Perfect Storm had better hope not.
4:51 p.m.: E-mail from Steve in Chicago:
- Talk about playing well. Mike Small won the Illinois Open yesterday at the Glen Club, then hopped on an 8 p.m. flight for Tulsa last night.
And now he's 2-under through seven holes. Small's story is pretty unbelievable. As the Chicago Tribune's Ed Sherman just told me, the three-time defending champ not only played the Illinois Open yesterday, but he left the course without knowing the result. With Small already in the clubhouse with a one-stroke lead, there was a weather delay. He couldn't wait around, needing to catch his flight, so he left the course not knowing if he had won or lost -- or was DQd for failing to show up for his playoff, had someone tied him.
4:37 p.m.: This e-mail from Deborah in Philadelphia makes me wonder if there are other folks thinking the same thing:
- If this is a live blog, why does it take over an hour from the time you post until the time your post shows up on ESPN.com?
It doesn't. It takes about a minute. The problem, Deborah, is that you are in the Eastern time zone and the tournament is being played in the Central time zone. If you read the live blog in Tulsa -- or Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, etc. -- your problem will be rectified.
4:30 p.m.: A big thank you is in order to e-mailer Mike from Parts Unknown, who has made sure this blog will live on for much longer than Sunday afternoon. Here's what you've been waiting for, folks:
Scoring a 7 over par on a hole in golf.
He just shot a septy on that hole.
Source: Jason the Golf Blogger, Bristol, CT
I'd just like to thank all of the little people who helped make this happen. Oh, and one big person, too. Angel Cabrera, without your generous support -- and those three wayward tee shots on the par-3 sixth hole today -- I never could have accomplished this. Thank you so much!
4:26 p.m.: For the record, the temperature in Graeme Storm's hometown of Hartlepool, England is 14 degrees Celsius -- about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. (Of course, it is 10:26 p.m. there as well.) That means Storm is playing in temps of about double what they'd be if he were back home right now.
And by the way, it looks like everyone is getting in on the act. The top headline on accuweather.com: "Stormy Night Across the East."
Graeme Storm fever. It's spreading.
4:17 p.m.: E-mail from David in Boone, N.C.:
- No one has admitted to being affected by the heat. But it seemed like there were a lot more, and lower, red numbers at noon than there were by the time the morning folks got into the clubhouse. And now I look at the leaderboard for the first time in an hour and (except for the Perfect Storm) again it looks like folks are going backwards.
You're right. Some of the players who teed off early talked about "not needing a towel" for their first nine holes, meaning they weren't dripping in sweat prior to 9 or 10 a.m. Maybe it is affecting them adversely. There are currently 18 players under par, but other than Storm and Daly, no one is better than 2-under, which is a pretty benign third-place score for Day 1 at a PGA Championship.
4:13 p.m.: Just throwing this out there: Graeme Storm is now 5-under through 13 holes. The all-time scoring record at a major -- accomplished 21 different times -- is 63. Storm can tie it by playing the final five holes of the front nine in 2-under and can break it by going 3-under.
(How's that for a Blog Jinx waiting to happen?)
4:03 p.m.: E-mail from Mike right here in Tulsa, Okla.:
- Forget Webster's. The true test for acceptance of a new word is for it to land on UrbanDictionary.com. There's some funny stuff there to enlighten us all. "Septy" is not yet defined.
Let's make it happen, people.
For that matter, let's throw another definition on "sexy," too. How much would you pay to see a player take a 10 on a par-4, only to hear Jim Nantz proclaim, "Well, it looks as if he really is bringing sexy back!"
4:00 p.m.: Mike in Boston made me laugh out loud:
- If 6-over is "sexy," does that mean Natalie Gulbis has a 108-handicap?
3:56 p.m.: Time for a leaderboard check, upside-down style. Despite the presence of 20 PGA professionals -- guys who often spend more time setting up the Ladies Nine-Hole Hit-and-Giggle on Tuesday mornings than actually playing golf themselves -- we have yet to see an ocho-cinco here at Southern Hills.
Currently, Micah Rudosky, the PGA Head Professional at Conquistador Golf Course in Cortez, Colo., is bringing up the rear after shooting a still-pretty-respectable 13-over 83. Say what you will about the PGA of America's setup versus that of the USGA, but it was pretty fun watching the car wrecks at the bottom of the leaderboard at Oakmont.
3:45 p.m.: My buddy Dave in L.A. thinks he's funny, checking in with this e-mail:
- Counting Crows? What's this, the 1990s? Must be, John Daly's the clubhouse leader at the PGA ...
3:41 p.m.: Graeme Storm just holed his chip on the par-4 second hole for birdie to move to 5-under, in the lead by two strokes.
So, you know what's coming ...
Wait for it ...
Here it is ...
The Perfect Storm!
3:35 p.m.: Matt in Jacksonville, Fla., is brilliant:
- If we are embracing "septy" for 7-over on a hole, how about "sexy" for 6-over?
Yes, yes, yes. Absolutely. I mean, how much fun is that? Can't you imagine standing over a putt for 9 on a par-4 and missing intentionally just so you can say to buddies, "Hey, put me down for a sexy on that one!"
3:25 p.m.: Let's go through some of the highlights of John Daly's post-round news conference:
- Q. You had a ten-footer from the left of the hole at 4, I think. About ten feet. You hit it nearly on the fringe.
JOHN DALY: You know what, I did. Hell, that's perfect (laughter).
Q. Somebody had to watch.
JOHN DALY: I cannot honestly remember.
Now there's something about Daly that we can all relate to. I don't know about a lot of you mid-handicappers out there, but if I just hacked it around for 18 holes in 100-degree and the first thing someone asked me was about my putt on the fourth hole, I'd have no recollection of it, either. Most touring pros can tell you the exact club and yardage they hit on shots from five years ago at a moment's notice.
- Q. If you didn't play a practice round here at Southern Hills, how did you prepare for this tournament? What has John Daly been doing the last few days?
JOHN DALY: I've been playing slots over at Cherokee Casino (laughter). Did good the first day; didn't do too good the other day. But I played their golf course yesterday. I went out just in a cart. They gave me the golf course from 10:00 to 1:00 yesterday. I got a lot of practicing in.
Three hours? Well, no wonder he's leading. He practiced for three hours at a casino golf course yesterday. Now, if only every player would show that kind of dedication ...
- Q. Before we get too deep into this golf stuff, how did you do at the slots?
JOHN DALY: I did okay the first day I was there. Got in Tuesday. I didn't do too good yesterday afternoon (chuckling).
Unfortunately, the follow-up question wasn't, "How 'didn't do too good' did you do, exactly?"
- Q. You mentioned the heat. Can you survive four days of this stuff?
JOHN DALY: It doesn't -- I'm used to it, let's put it that way. I grew up around this area. I'm used to kind of little valleys where you don't get a lot of -- you don't get any air and there's a lot of humidity and it's tough to breathe. I light up a cigarette and drink some caffeine and it actually works (laughter). It does bother me but I'm used to it, let's put it that way.
Forget air conditioning. From now on, when you want to beat the heat, go at it the John Daly way: cigarettes and Diet Cokes.
- Q. I'm not real sure how to ask this question, to be honest with you. But Tiger came in a week early to play the course. Got here at 6:00 Monday morning to start his practice rounds. Obviously you didn't. You admitted you haven't practiced here. Just talk about the difference in philosophies. And obviously it hasn't hurt your score yet.
JOHN DALY: Everybody is different. I'm in better shape than Tiger (laughter). No, I don't know. I was talking to Vijay at the British Open. He was there eight days prior to the tournament. I can't do that. I get burnt out. I like to spend time with my kids and my family and ride around in a golf cart and play and get ready for a major and be home. I think everybody's a little different.
Very true. When you're John Daly, everybody is different than you.
3:19 p.m.: Matt in Hammonton, N.J., is already buying into the new word:
- I'm liking the "septy" terminology, but I'd say most once-a-weekers like myself are picking up well before we reach septy range. Or maybe that's just me. Next time I'm on the verge of the septy I'll suck it up and play it out.
Now, that's the spirit. Let's keep this up, folks. If someone gets a new word into Webster's, you think they send him a $50 gift certificate or a special edition dictionary or something?
3:03 p.m.: Cabrera's "septy" (and yeah, I just made that up; feel free to use it the next time you take seven extra strokes on a hole) prompts this e-mail from Anthony in Germantown, Md.
- What kind of odds could you have gotten at Ladbrokes that a portly major winner would card a 9 on one hole and it isn't John Daly?
Great odds. But don't worry; I think Daly's still got a few septies left in him this week.
Speaking of the big dudes, Andrew in Pensacola, Fla., has this idea:
- Let's liven up the tournament a bit. We'll send out Tim Herron, John Daly, and Angel Cabrera as playing partners, ban them from smoking, and make them carry their own bags.
Sounds more like a reality show than a golf tournament. The "Really, Really Big Break," perhaps?
2:55 p.m.: Angel Cabrera was going along nicely at even-par through five holes ... and then he made a 10 at No. 6. Even worse: No. 6 is a par-3.
That's right, a nice septuple-bogey for the U.S. Open champion, whose first tee shot was unplayable, second went O.B. and third found the water hazard.
Let's just hope we see this old standby on the quote transcript later today:
- Q. How did you make a 10?
ANGEL CABRERA: I missed my putt for a 9.
2:46 p.m.: The Legend of John Daly continues to grow.
Daly just completed his post-round news conference and talked about eschewing practice rounds at Southern Hills in favor of -- you guessed it -- going to a casino.
On Tuesday, Daly played slots at nearby Cherokee Casino and said he did very well. He went back the next day (yesterday) and didn't fare as well on the slots, but got in some golf at the casino's course.
As my colleague Bob Harig presciently reminds me right now, Daly didn't play a practice round prior to winning the 1991 PGA, either (because he was ninth alternate and wasn't in the field originally). Hmmm ...
2:42 p.m.: E-mail from Mike in Ohio, who weighs in on what's always an underlying subplot at the PGA:
- Chris DiMarco is off to a slow start, what does he need to do to be a
captain's pick for the Presidents Cup? Jack Nicklaus has to want him on the team
after his effort in 2005.
DiMarco has been battling a shoulder injury for much of this season. He's shown flashes of good play, but wasn't able to put together four solid rounds until last week at Firestone, when he nabbed his first top-10 of the season.
In doing so, he moved up from 36th to 25th on the points list, but he'll need (I'm guessing -- and it depends on what other players do, too) about a third-place finish to make the team on points, so his best shot remains being named by Nicklaus.
Expect it to happen. Jack loved his guttiness at the Presidents Cup two years ago when he clinched it for the U.S. and, really, there aren't too many players outside of the top-10 who would be considered great candidates. But a strong week here at Southern Hills would go a long way to helping his chances.
2:37 p.m.: Brian Bateman shot a 1-over 71 today. Pretty good score considering he almost lost a nose this morning.
- Q. Talk about the incident this morning, I guess there was a report that you almost got hit in the head?
BRIAN BATEMAN: Yeah, I was walking to the 10th tee and I was coming across the back of No. 1 tee, and there was a guy, I don't know who he was, but I was taking a practice swing and I threw my hands up and he stopped just short of my nose. Not the start I was looking for but no harm, no foul.
2:28 p.m.: Chad in Uniontown, Kan., is the second person today to make me laugh out loud:
- Doesn't Graeme Storm do the weather on Tulsa's channel 6?
The Englishman is currently leading, at 4-under through seven holes. Let's see how many cheesy headlines I can come up with in 10 seconds... go!
• Storm-y Weather
• Storm Is Brewing
• Storm Cools Off The Heat
• Storm Reigns!
• The Perfect Storm
Damn! Thought I could get at least six or seven ...
2:25 p.m.: E-mail from Jack in Milwaukee:
- How can you drop the Counting Crows concert reference and not lay a set list on us? What's the deal?
Contrary to popular belief, I actually stop live blogging when golf isn't being played, so therefore I didn't write down an entire setlist from their show last night. But I've gotten a bunch of e-mails asking how the show was, so here's my 20-word review:
- They rocked. Great mix of new stuff and older hits. Minor league stadium tour is a cool idea. Highly recommended.
Also very cool: Five dollars from every ticket sold last night went to the family of former Tulsa Drillers coach Mike Coolbaugh, who died recently after being hit by a line drive.
2:19 p.m.: E-mail from Dave in Parts Unknown:
- At the level these guys are at, how much of a difference does it make when a player rallies to post a number (Hunter Mahan at 1-over), versus when a player fades to post that same number (Tiger Woods at 1-over)?
I think it gives them a sigh of relief or a bit of frustration for a few minutes after the round, but I don't think it has any effect on their mentality or strategy over the course of the rest of the tournament.
2:07 p.m.: E-mail from Huan in Washington D.C.:
- Have you ever seen that Lexus commercial where Nick Watney is driving Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones around? Frankly, it scares the [stuffing] out of me and does NOT make me want to buy a Lexus.
That's one of the stranger mainstream endorsements from a little-known golfer I've seen, up there with major ad campaigns featuring Arron Oberholser (Dockers) and Troy Matteson (Kohl's). Look, I think Watney is a nice player -- a definite up-and-comer and guy to keep an eye on -- but you've got to wonder why he'd get the call for these spots as opposed to someone, uh, famous or something.
(And yes, Huan did use a bad word in his e-mail. I thought "stuffing" might elicit a chuckle, though "snot" was a close second.)
2:00 p.m.: Sergio Garcia was one of the early leaders today, and finished with an even-par 70 for the round. Here's what he had to say afterward:
- Q. Can you tell us about your round a little bit, please.
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, just a shame, those last two bogeys on the last two. But overall, not a bad round. I got off to a great start and could have been -- I missed three good birdie chances on 14, 15 and 16, so I could have been easily 4- or 5-under through seven.
But then, you know, there's some tough holes coming out, and I made a couple bad bogeys here and there. You know, recovered nicely, throughout the back nine, and then unfortunately I just didn't have a great finish.
Q. What effect is the heat having?
SERGIO GARCIA: It's definitely -- it definitely affects, (sipping water) mainly because you're constantly sweating so you have to dry yourself, dry your arms, your hands and the grip and everything and 15 seconds later you're sweating again. So it's not easy. It takes a lot of time to get ready. But, you know, it was a little bit breezy, so it made it a little bit tougher but overall it was OK.
Q. And how is the course playing?
SERGIO GARCIA: The course is playing pretty good. The green were pretty receptive this morning early on and then they got a little bit drier as the day went on. You know, there were there good pins out there that if you manage to hit in the fairway, you can attack. If you are struggling with your tee shots, it's a little bits tougher to get to. But overall, I think it was a great setup.
1:57 p.m.: We have a clubhouse leader. John Daly keeps it together pretty well down the stretch and finishes with a 3-under 67. This could be a very big story brewing, folks -- for a variety of reasons. Check out Daly's stats this year and you'll see he hasn't exactly been tearing it up.
1:50 p.m.: E-mail from Jeff in New Brunswick, N.J.:
- Who or what is a Graeme Storm and how is he 2-under through two holes?
He's a Euro Tour regular from Hartlepool, England, who's having a nice season that includes a win at the Open de France. (That's French Open for those who didn't take "française" in high school.)
As for how he's 2-under, well, that's what a pair of birdies to start will get ya. Seventy holes to go, but he's on pace to shoot 52-52-52-52 -- 72-under-par for the tournament.
1:46 p.m.: One way to beat the heat? Don't even acknowledge it. Here's Camilo Villegas after his round:
- Q. Did the heat bug you at all?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: The heat? It's beautiful out here!
1:43 p.m.: Tiger Woods closes out what started as a very promising round with a 1-over 71. Woods was all over the place today, starting with three birdies on his first six holes, but played his last 10 holes in 4-over.
From what I hear from the folks out on the course, it could have been much worse, too. He made a few good saves in there, too. I'm sure Tiger will talk soon and I'll get some of his quotes on the blog.
1:35 p.m.: Now teeing off on the 10th tee ... Justin Leonard.
You can't really think about Leonard without also thinking about that Ryder Cup-clinching putt at The Country Club back in 1999.
With that in mind, allow me to make a quick detour from PGA coverage for a quick story. This come from my buddy Matt in Boston, whose girlfriend has just started playing golf, going to the driving range and a pitch-and-putt, but is not yet ready for a real course. This is a recent conversation between the two of them. I'll leave her name out of it to protect the oh-so-very innocent (you'll see why in a minute):
Girlfriend: I just found out I won a raffle for a free round of golf.
Matt: That's great. At which course?
Girlfriend: It doesn't say.
Matt: It doesn't?
Girlfriend: No, it just says it's at the country club.
Matt: Uh, that would be THE Country Club.
Girlfriend: Oh, is that good?
Matt: Uh, yeah, it's pretty good ...
Needless to say, I believe negotiations for that tee time are currently in progress.
1:23 p.m.: All this Daly talk got the Blog Jinx working: He makes bogey on 16, drops to 3-under.
1:21 p.m.: E-mail from Shane in Nashville, Tenn.:
- Since we are speculating about J.D. winning, what would be his odds of making the Hall of Fame if he were to win his third major?
Wow, we went from being "cautiously optimistic" to over-the-top speculation faster than Tiger's swing speed.
It's an interesting question, though. A win this week -- and, again, it's still early on Thursday afternoon -- would give Daly three majors ... and only three other PGA Tour victories. Players have gotten into the HOF with fewer major wins, but not sure how many have done so with as few wins overall.
1:17 p.m.: Are the wheels starting to come off? John Daly hits his drive right on 16, lays up short of the water hazard and hits his third shot to about 15 feet. He'll have a par attempt from there.
1:02 p.m.: E-mail from Bob in Cumberland, R.I.:
- I know it's very early but what would be a better story: Monty coming through and finally winning his first major or Daly coming out of no where to win his third major?
John Daly winning this week would be a bigger story than anything else that could happen. I've said this many times before and I believe it now more than ever: Daly is -- and has been for the last 15 years -- the biggest draw in golf. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson may be more "popular" in some circles, but think of it this way: If only one of those three -- Tiger, Mickelson and Daly -- were in contention on Sunday afternoon at a major, which would garner the greatest response from fans?
I say, without a doubt, it's John Daly.
12:56 p.m.: E-mail from Cory in Richmond, Va.:
- With J.D. in contention so far, he has to be puffing away on at least his third pack of smokes this round. Since the temperature is 105 degrees, is someone making sure that those cig butts are fully extinguished??? I'd hate to see Smokey the Bear have to cite him for a violation.
Not to get all serious on you -- and not to get WAY ahead of ourselves -- but what does it say about golf's image if Angel Cabrera and John Daly win two of the four majors this year while puffing away on cigarettes the entire time?
When Tiger Woods was announced as ESPN's "Who's Now" winner a few days ago, many commenters to the Web site decried golf as not being a sport. Now, I don't agree with that assessment for one minute; the game requires an athletic movement, skill, stamina -- it's a sport. But when you get overweight dudes winning majors while sucking down cancer sticks, it kind of hurts that argument a little bit.
12:50 p.m.: Down goes Oberholser! He makes double-bogey on No. 16, meanwhile Markus Brier finishes with a double to shoot 69 ... and John Daly is all alone atop the leaderboard at 4-under, two strokes up.
Like I said earlier, if you're rooting for him -- and I can't imagine too many of you out there aren't rooting for him -- let's be cautiously optimistic. But it's pretty exciting to see his name up there already.
Oh, and for those of you who were wondering if the heat would have an ill effect on players who aren't well-conditioned? Case closed.
12:43 p.m.: E-mail from Troy in Minneapolis:
- Geoff Ogilvy was tabbed to break into that top tier of golfers after his U.S.
Open win. He's not playing real well again today. Has he been a disappointment
He hasn't been terrible by any means, making the cut in 14 of 17 starts, with four top-10s, but a player of his caliber should be contending more often.
Other than his runner-up finish at the Match Play and a T-3 at Doral -- both of which were prior to the Masters -- he hasn't really been in contention much this year.
He's playing well so far today, at even-par through 16 holes.
12:39 p.m.: Right after I mentioned John Daly in the British Open live blog, he went on a run of something like 17-over for the next 18 holes. Well, the Jinx hasn't gotten him yet today. Daly makes birdie on the par-5 13th hole and is now tied with Arron Oberholser at 4-under.
That would be nine pars and four birdies for Daly, which calls into mind this question: When was the last time J.D. played 13 straight holes without a bogey? His propensity for making big numbers has been what's led to his downfall in recent years (at least as far as on-course stuff goes).
12:27 p.m.: Congrats to Dean in Alexandria, Va., the first e-mailer to make me laugh out loud this week:
- Is it true that Rory Sabbatini said Mother Nature was beatable this week?
Poor Rory. Such an easy target these days.
12:22 p.m.: E-mail from Jason in Trenton, Mo.:
- How does the Okie food compare to that found at The Open?
I'll tell you this much: I could go for an Arbroath Smokie right now. Actually, I have no food updates because, well, I've been blogging all day. That's right, I'm fasting in order to get you more info, dear readers.
I can give a definitive thumbs up to the cheeseburger I had last night at Drillers Stadium while taking in the Counting Crows show. Other than that, I've gone hungry. Looking forward to hitting the town later tonight.
12:18 p.m.: Quick leaderboard check shows that Arron Oberholser is so far impervious to the Blog Jinx, still leading by one at 4-under. Markus Brier and John Daly are each one shot further back; Tiger Woods is three back through 12.
12:10 p.m.: E-mail from Alex in Vienna, Austria:
- You write: "Since winning the Travelers Championship about a month-and-a-half ago, [Mahan]'s been (along with K.J. Choi and Jim Furyk) one of the hottest players around." It´s odd that all three of them are off to a bad start. Especially Furyk seems to be playing miserably. Which astonishes me, as I thought that this course should fit his game. Are you surprised, too? (Go Markus Brier!!)
I agree that this course does suit Furyk's game, but I'm not surprised he's playing poorly, based on the back injury he suffered last week, forcing him to WD from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Here's what he had to say yesterday, a lengthy, in-depth answer to the questions you raise:
- Q. Update us on your physical condition, and how do you think your game will suit itself on this course at Southern Hills.
JIM FURYK: Physically, actually, I'm in pretty good state right now. I had a really tough go of it last week. I was in a lot of pain and quite stiff.
Over the weekend I started trying to hit some balls lightly, mostly short irons and mid-irons on Sunday. When I got here, the travel hurt. Trying to do a little bit more at work as far as hitting longer clubs, trying to play nine holes took its toll, and I was reverting back and I was pretty iffy about my chances.
Last night I went into the trailer and received some treatment. And I had a joint, I guess, in my upper back in my thoracic spine that was really stiff and not really mobile, and it actually was able to be adjusted, where the same gentleman who had been working on me for quite a long time, and I guess everything was just so tight, muscularly locked up in there, wasn't able to.
And I went from being pretty miserable and not really being able to make the movement in the swing that I wanted to, to actually finding a lot of relief. I was one happy person last night when I went to bed because I felt so much better, and woke up this morning less stiff in the morning than I really was at my best yesterday.
So my movement is pretty good. I'm happy that -- I'm still not 100%, but I'm healthy enough to make the swings that I want to. I have the ability. But I've had about a week off, and I'm swinging at it terrible right now (laughing).
So I'm hoping to -- this golf course really I think would suit my game. And when I was playing well, I pride myself on being able to maneuver the golf ball. Power is not going to come into play. It's really limiting off the tee in spots the way it's set up. So guys are going to have to play from the same spot in the fairway on a lot of holes.
And being aggressive is not going to be a smart play on most holes off the tee. In most instances that would kind of even me up on the field off the tee and possibly give me an advantage. But I really don't feel that well about my game. I feel rusty. I tried to work it out a little bit today. But I also get tired hitting balls afterwards.
I warmed up today, played nine and I hit a bucket of balls after. And it really -- after about a half a bucket I started to decline and just started to get tired, not in any pain, but I wasn't able to -- my back was definitely getting tired.
So, I'm trying. If I felt like I did yesterday, I probably would have just went home and rested because I couldn't move enough to make the swings I wanted to, and today was really a different story. So I was happy about that. And I'll have to think about how I want to attack the golf course and how I can make some better swings for tomorrow.
Anytime a player says, "I'm swinging at it terrible right now," one day before a major, you can't really expect much -- no matter how well the course suits his game.
12:02 p.m.: I've gotten a bunch of questions about the course setup and which of the two nines is playing tougher today.
So far, the front side is about a half-stroke harder. The first nine holes are playing to an average of 36.8169 strokes per player, while the back nine is at 36.3442.
11:57 a.m.: E-mail from Jake in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.:
Hunter Mahan is ... not playing well.
Good observation. Mahan is 2-over through 10 holes, having just made birdie after an opening nine (he started on the back) that included three bogeys and no birdies.
He was a bandwagon dark horse selection entering this week, although he really shouldn't be considered a sleeper anymore. Since winning the Travelers Championship about a month-and-a-half ago, he's been (along with K.J. Choi and Jim Furyk) one of the hottest players around. He went to school at Oklahoma State and once won the Big 12 Championship here at Southern Hills by 13 strokes.
That said, 2-over through 10 holes is hardly a death sentence. If he gets things back to even, he'll still be in good shape going into the second round.
11:48 a.m.: E-mail from Xavier in Tucson, Ariz.:
- In keeping with your other blogs (at least the U.S. and British Opens), what kind of score would a 10 handicap shoot at Southern Hills?
Xavier, meet Scott from Atlanta, who reports the following:
- I played Southern Hills earlier this year and shot 100 with a 15 handicap.
I think just into the triple-digits sounds about right for the legit 15 handicapper. So call it low-to-mid-90s for a 10 right now. Depends on how you play, though. Bomb-and-gougers won't fare as well as those who can knock it down the middle and keep it in play. And, as always, if you're a good putter on fast greens, that'll be important.
11:42 a.m.: Among the leaders right now are Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, John Daly ... and Brad Lardon.
Never heard of him? You're not alone. One of the unique aspects of the PGA is that while it hosts the best field of any major (98 of the world's top 100 are here this week), it also invites the top 20 club pros from the PGA Professional National Championship. Basically, many of these pros are the ones you hand your greens fee to when you walk into a pro shop, the ones making sure the shelving inventory on 3-woods isn't too depleted.
And once in a while they get to play a little golf. (Ask any club pro and they'll tell you the job is much less glamorous than it sounds.) And, as we're seeing from Lardon right now, they can play pretty well. The Director of Golf at Miramont Country Club in Bryan, Texas, is 3-under through seven holes.
11:37 a.m.: Forgive me for not getting too excited about this because I've read this story before, but here goes anyway: John Daly is one stroke off the lead.
Wake me up when he's one off the lead on the weekend -- or, heck, even on Friday afternoon. We saw this from J.D. at last month's British Open, as he took lead (5-under through 11 holes, if memory serves correctly) only to ride the roller coaster all the way to a missed cut the next day.
So for all the Daly fans out there, let's remain cautiously optimistic for the time being.
11:29 a.m.: E-mail from John in Tacoma, Wash.:
- With the doglegs there, Tiger doesn't have to hit as many drivers ... so this works out in his favor, right?
Well, yes ... and no. Woods won't be hitting as many drivers because precision off the tee is more important than distance at Southern Hills, which is playing to 7,131 yards this week. But he also won't get that advantage in driving distance that he usually has.
For example: Woods may hit 4-iron off a tee to leave himself in the fairway, 160 yards from the hole. Meanwhile, a guy like, say, Joe Durant (short hitter, but very accurate) may hit 3-wood or driver to the exact same spot. So, really, I think the doglegs help to level the playing field rather than give Tiger more of an advantage.
11:25 a.m.: Great point from Dave in Baton Rouge, La.:
- Wasn't it Rich Beem who made a stink about Tiger's new tournament
being an invitational and not a full-field event? If so, is there any animosity between those two, especially playing together?
I can't be positive, but I'd doubt it. Beem's comments were directed more toward the PGA Tour than Woods specifically, so it's not like it was a personal attack.
Besides, it's not like they'll be doing much talking anyway. Tiger could be paired with buddies like Charles Howell III and Darren Clarke this week and still not interact with them. This is a major, everyone's more focused.
11:18 a.m.: Quick leaderboard check shows that Arron Oberholser has joined Markus Brier at the top at 4-under. I'm scared to go speak with Oberholser. The least time I talked with him at length was the day before the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship. He was feeling good, healthy, optimistic ... and the next day he WD'd with a back injury that sidelined him for the better part of the first two months of the year.
It's like the Blog Jinx in person.
By the way, he's a very well-spoken, articulate guy. He majored in broadcasting in college and will be a great booth announcer 20 years down the road.
11:10 a.m.: E-mail from an anonymous reader:
- Just wondering your thoughts on next year's PGA at Oakland Hills near Detroit.
Very cool course. I'm a big fan. I think it's might actually be better suited for majors than for the Ryder Cup, which it hosted three years ago.
Speaking of '04, let's hope the hotel options are a bit better this time around. Last time I stayed in the Nine Mile section of the city, which, well, you've seen that Eight Mile movie ... this was one mile worse.
11:04 a.m.: Yes, it's still early, but let's take a look at the course statistics so far.
The vaunted 12th hole -- which may or may not have been the best par-4 that Ben Hogan ever saw -- is ranked as the No. 1 toughest hole. So far today, it's playing to a par-4½ at an even 4.50 strokes per player.
The easiest? The very next hole, No. 13, a par-5, which is playing only .0385 strokes tougher right now.
10:54 a.m.: E-mail from Keith in Oklahoma City:
- It's going to be hot and there's nothing you can do about it. The real question is the wind. It can be fierce and it was in OKC yesterday. I haven't heard anyone mention that yet. How is the wind at this point?
There's definitely a little breeze, but it's not enough right now to affect scoring too much, I don't believe. Remember, this is a tree-lined course, so even if it's windy in the area, a lot of it gets blocked out on the course.
10:45 a.m.: Markus Brier just birdied the third hole (his 12th of the day) to move into sole possession of the lead at 4-under. Here are a few fun facts:
• His last name is pronounced BREER, as in "rhymes with beer."
• Unlike what seems like about one-third of the players these days, Brier is NOT from Australia. That "AUT" next to his name on the leaderboard is for Austria. And yes, he's probably the best golfer to ever come out of that country.
• Like Jim Furyk, he looks better with the hat on than when it's off.
10:31 a.m.: First reader e-mail of the week comes from Justin in Columbia, S.C.:
With all the early low scores this is looking more like the Bob Hope Classic and not "Glory's Last Shot!" Is the course playing that easy or is it to early to tell?
I don't think it's ever too early to start looking at trends. At this point in a U.S. Open first round, you may see a couple of players under par, but not a dozen, as there is right now. That tells you something. There are birdies to be had out here. This course isn't going to play "easy," but someone shooting 64 or 65 isn't out of the question.
And right on cue, Tiger Woods makes his third birdie of the day, moving to 3-under, tied with playing partner Rich Beem and Austrian Markus Brier.
10:19 a.m.: Interesting piece in The Morning News (covering Northwest Arkansas) this week, which stated the following:
- [Ben] Hogan called No. 12 at Southern Hills the best par 4 hole he'd seen.
I've read that in a few places, so I have no reason to think it's incorrect. Except for this, found in Palm Beach Illustrated:
- Ben Hogan called [Seminole's] sixth hole "the best par-4 in the world."
And of course, then there's this, from BigDriver.com, discussing the 16th hole at Lions Municipal Golf Course in Austin, Texas:
Hogan called it the best par-4 he'd ever played.
And from the USGA's Web site, on the 11th hole at Pinehurst No. 2:
- Golfing lore holds that this was Ben Hogan's favorite par 4.
So, yes, the 12th hole here at Southern Hills is a good one, but I'm just not sure we can definitively call it "the best par-4 Hogan has ever seen."
10:13 a.m.: Here's a little cautionary tale: Three years ago, I was seated next to a fine British bloke at the Ryder Cup in Oakland Hills. Unbeknownst to me, early in the week he had written the compulsory rip-job of Detroit from the eyes of an outsider. The end result was that his piece was featured as the top story on the local 6 p.m. newscast that night.
So you've got to be careful when bashing the host city at these things. And for the record, I'm having quite a nice time in Tulsa so far. This comes despite what I read on the plane while coming here, from Chuck Klosterman in the latest issue of Esquire:
- I have lived in some of the least exhilarating cities in America, but Tulsa is almost like urban sarcasm. Tulsa makes Akron seem like Las Vegas. It's Friday night, but every downtown street is a reenactment of the opening 10 minutes of "28 Days Later." All the avenues have names like Denver and Detroit and Cincinnati, as if those cities were theoretical, unattainable utopias. The townsfolk are incredibly nice, but the emptiness is relentless (and kind of terrifying).
10:08 a.m.: If you've read the live blogs at the other three majors, you know about the existing Blog Jinx -- a force so powerful it requires capitalization. Honestly, I harbor no ill will toward any player in the field, but the blog has had an uncanny knack for mentioning players who are faring well, only to jinx them within minutes of posting.
That said, my first Blog Jinx of this week is ... Mother Nature. I figure if I can mention the heat as much as possible, we'll see a cold front blow in soon enough.
Seriously though, I've been getting a lot of questions about the heat this week. How will it affect players? Will it hurt their stamina? Does a conditioned player like Tiger Woods have more of an advantage?
They're valid queries, but I really don't think the high temps are going to have much of an effect on this tournament. These guys are used to competing in California, Florida, Texas, etc., not to mention places like India and Malaysia for some of the foreign players. It may be a few degrees warmer than usual this week, but that will hardly be a major plotline.
As for Tiger having any advantage, sure, I suppose if it's he and Herron (man, I'm beating up on Lumpy already and we're just two blog entries into this thing) in the final pairing on Sunday, then he may be better equipped to withstand the heat, but again, I don't think it'll make much of a difference.
One thing to remember: Even though this course is called Southern Hills, it's a fairly flat course, which should make matters more bearable.
10:00 a.m.: Hi, my name's Jason Sobel. You may remember me from such live blogs as the Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open!
OK, enough of the McClurean intro, let's get down to business. Greetings from the PGA Championship at Southern Hills, where the weather is, oh, just a bit tepid. The forecast over the next four days looks like my second-grade spelling test scores: 100-100-100-100. (I was money on anything six letters or less.) Of course, Mother Nature actually did a little extra credit work, too. With the Heat Index, it'll feel like 105-105-105-105 through Sunday.
Moral of the story: Let's all hope Tim Herron brought some golf shirts that can breathe.
Early leaderboard check shows a whole bunch of top players up there already; it looks more like a Sunday afternoon leaderboard than a Thursday morning one. Sergio Garcia, Colin Montgomerie and Markus Brier are tied at 3-under, with Camilo Villegas, Retief Goosen, Arron Oberholser and Ernie Els among those one back, with Tiger Woods at 1-under already.
For those familiar with the previous live blogs, you know how this works. For those who aren't, it's not rocket science. The golfers play golf, I write about them -- as well as anything else that springs to mind -- at a rate that should hopefully have you clicking the "refresh" button every 5-10 minutes or so. You send me questions and comments to the above link and I'll post the best ones. (And sometimes, just for kicks, the painfully bad ones, too.) As always, make me laugh out loud and you're in, no matter what.
Here we go ...