Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Monster Takes Prisoners in 1st Round of 90th PGA Championship.

Red numbers were as precious Pro V1s in a hacker's league at the 90th PGA Championship. Oakland Hills lived up to it's name and left a large share of the field mumbling to themselves. A 90 minute rain delay prevented completion of the 1st round, so results are partial.

Robert Karlsson, only golfer to finish in the top 10 at the first three majors, shared the lead with Andrews Romero, (on the 14th hole when play stopped), and one of Average Golfer's sleeper picks, Jeev Milkha Singh. They were all at -2, 68. Singh's doctors advised him to take a month off from golf to heal an injured ankle. In keeping with Woods' knee and Harrington's wrist injuries, it's only fitting he decided to play. It probably guarantees his win. Ken Duke, Sergio Garcia, Billy Mayfair, Sean O'Hair, and J.B. Holmes, (16th hole), were locked at -1, 69. Ten players were at even par.

Perhaps more telling than the leaderboard were the players that most likely shot themselves out of the championship on the 1st day. They need to go low on day #2 and the course is showing no signs of allowing any low scores. They would include the Ryder Cup dissenter, Hunter Mahan, +11, Ryuji Imada, +10, Woody Austin, +9, Jerry Kelly, +9, recent winner Chez Reavie, +8, KJ Choi, +8, Adam Scott, +7, Lee Westwood, +7, Davis Love III, +7. The course claimed victims on the 1st day and there's no reason to believe that will change any time soon. Many players described the course as more like a US Open setup than the US Open. Despite the late rain, course officials were watering at least three greens during play, an ominous sign on day #1. Let's hope they find a healthy balance. I don't mind seeing the world's best severely tested, I just don't want to see luck, or bad luck, play a part in determining the winner. They may be precipitously close to that fine line.

Average Golfer was more than a little disappointed to read comments attributed to his pick to win, Lee Westwood, regarding the course setup. Here's an excerpt from his post-round interview after his 77....

“The course is 7,500 yards long, the greens are firm and the pins are tucked away,” “They are sucking the fun out of the major championships when you set it up like that.

“I sound as if I’m moaning—which I am—but it’s a great shame,” he said. “It’s a fantastic golf course. They are great greens and they are playable. But there is no need to play it as it is.”

Boy, since he's my pick I surely hope he has a nice dinner and a good night's sleep so he can wake up tomorrow with a tad better attitude.

Til' next,

* Late note......Kenny Perry withdrew after his 1st round 78 with an eye injury.