All times Pacific Standard Time...because I feel like it.
10:55: I return from a workout and visit to the farmer's market to turn on the television and find...the house organ blaring! Nice Jimmy Roberts narrated puff piece on the USGA's square groove rule change that will put a premium back on accuracy! Ya, you go girl!
11:02: I've rewound the Tivo ad Johnny drops his first 63 mention at 10:12. And at 10:14 Pablo Martin power rams a 4-footer for birdie and has 35 feet coming back. Nice putt Pablo! Oh and then he goes back and forth on No. 3! Fun times!
11:11 - Still catching up, reaching the "what the USGA does" contractually obligated package, complete with plenty of schmaltzy horns and strings. Dick Rugge on the USGA groove study: "exhaustive research to determine if the challenge of the game has changed and we determined that yes indeed it had changed. And the culprit may indeed be the grooves." And this is beautiful. The implication being, the players wanted this: "These are the best players in the world and they like the challenge to be able to show their skills because they are the best and the like that opportunity to show themselves."
11:23 - David Fay on the golf course: "Right where we want it to be." And on Phil's comment on the hazardous nature of the rough: "that was a new one to me."
11:31 - Just about caught up, Tiger tries to drive No. 2, NBC tries to find the ball but the glaring white sand makes that impossible.
11:44 - Ah our first Tim Rosaforte visits breaks up the coverage of apparently the only twosome on the course, Tiger and Nick Dougherty. Bob asks about the ditches. Tim tells us about Fazio's restoration work with a rivetting anecdote about the members. I wonder if Tim can submit his little game show host cards to Golf House for future generations to study?
11:52 - We interrupt our coverage of Tiger Woods to show Angel Cabrera walking. Oh, back to Tiger. He makes birdie, he's "nailed" it here, we're really, really begging he stays in this at NBC because we know the rating depends on him!
11:57 - Tiger hits it 334 on No. 4, has 275 left. Hits iron, lands on the green and finishes pin high. It's the grooves! Dan Hicks: "he looks really good today" ... doesn't he Dick Ebersol?
12:02 - Johnny notes there is a "clinical" feel to Tiger's play after his near eagle on 4 and flawless play from the tee so far.
12:08 - Casey flies it over on No. 2 that Tiger drove it in, setting up a birdie. Uh, I don't know about you, but the course looks A LOT softer today.
12:14 - A reader notes this from today's USGA course setup notes: "Greens were watered last night. Firmness readings were taken last night after the watering and first thing this morning. The firmest greens (2, 3, 5, 6 and 13) were watered early this morning. Later this morning, all 18 greens have been watered in order (1-18) approximate 2 hours before play. Greens should not get firmer at point today that what we saw very late in the day yesterday. Translated: We should be firmer than Thursday, but not any firmer than yesterday."
12:18 - Dottie Pepper says the first green was also one of the greens given extra water, according to Mike Davis. Interesting that square grooves are such a problem, yet we're watering greens to make them more receptive. Hmmm...
12:43 - Casey two putts No. 4 for birdie and is looking like a likely winner. More importantly, the NBC gang hasn't asked Johnny to address the Paul Goydos remarks about Casey's 66 being better than Johnny's 63. Boo!
12:47 - Did you know Zack Johnson is just a midwestern guy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa?
12:51 - Bubba hits driver 370 yards down the pipe on No. 3, so naturally with that great contouring it rolled into the rough. 58 yards left and he missed the gree. But remember, he played the hole that way not because he could hit it 370, but because of the grooves!
12:53 - Johnny gets choked up talking about his 63 outfit...wait, false alarm, it was that cherry danish he just snacked on making its way back up. Get this man some tea.
12:55 - Niclas Fasth makes his first appearance of the day on NBC despite starting only 2 shots back. He makes eagle on 4 to move to within 1 after a poor start.
1:00 - Reader Hawkeye reports that the interational feed isn't working. So an update: Cabrera and Watson at +1, Casey, Fasth and Ames at +2, Tiger at +2.
1:03 - Johnny says the greens appear softer today than they were Thursday, which followed Wednesday's rain.
1:04 - Stephen Ames is one shot back and I don't think we've seen him hit a shot yet! But we've seen every shot Tiger has hit.
1:08 - Cool crain shot of no. 9 from NBC showing off the contours, bet it looks really cool in HD. I wonder how Johnny's makeup look on HD?
1:10 - 2 hours and 5 minutes for Tiger's twosome to finish the front nine. Imagine how slow it would be if they hadn't drenched the place.
1:14 - We have our first Villages ad! Just as I was about to doze off too.
1:19 - Johnny says No. 10 fairway "too narrow" in his view. Oh I don't know, two golf carts could pass each other, looks wide enough to me.
1:33 - Did you see Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones in that Lexus ad? I knew the brand dynamics were strong, but sheesh. I want to run out and buy one now.
1:35 - Cabrera hits an awesome flip shot off the bank at 5. Think he's here to stay. Oops, he missed the par putt. Oh well, at least NBC's showing him, which is more than we can say for poor Stephen Ames who reportedly was just two back! Wait, he just moved to +5...they're saved!
1:42 - That man of the people, Vijay Singh, bogies 18 for a 70. There's always hope.
1:51 - Tiger drives is 389 - because he knows he has square grooves - with 243 left and hits a squirrelly short right shot.
1:53 - Bubba birdies 7 and is takes the lead by himself. Angel is one back, Tiger, Casey and Fasth 2 back. But finds Sahara on 8. Meanwhile Tiger hits it 7 feet on 12. Will be tied for the lead by 2:00 PST? Scratch that, Tiger missed the birdie putt.
2:02 - Fasth flinches after putt because of a bug bite, Johnny wonders if he's emulating who else, but Johnny's stroke. It's all about Johnny! At least he was self depricating this time! Meanwhile Tiger hasn't missed a green in regulation and Bubba just got up and down on 8. And I'm getting woozy.
2:15 - Oh boy Bubba's flipping out. Flubbed wedge in the crop left of 9, then hits the next one right away and then hits a home run with his fourth shot. And now he's hitting the next one. It's okay Bubba, you aren't on the clock! Wow, just like that, triple bogey. And all of that with U-grooves!
2:18 - Fasth birdies the impossible 10th gives it a fist pump. He moves to +3. The excitement is overwhelming me here.
2:24 - Anyone know what course that is in the Lexus ad where the dude plays the par-3 over the bay inlet?
2:35 - Tiger, Cabrera, Fasth and Baddelay tied for the lead. Casey, Watson one back, Pettersen and Ames two back. Gee I wonder who is going to win!
2:48 - Whoa just nodded off, I'm back. This is SO rivetting. Oh good commercials coming, something to liven things up. And at least we get to see how Tiger plays 17.
2:50 - Did you know that Zach Johnson is a just a midwestern guy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa?
2:54 - We finally get to see Stephen Ames! He's one back. Okay back to golfers we care about. Tiger...driving 17...
2:58 - How beautiful is that scene on 14 with the 18th hole and grandstands as a backdrop?
3:05 - Johnny informs us that he kind of picked new leader Badds on that first hole. Uh huh!
3:09 - Yes, I'm bored and stumbled on this explanation behind those cool tee markers at Oakmont. This from Steve Elling at CBS Sportsline:
The club was formed 104 years ago by a Pittsburgh steel magnate named H.C. Fownes, who originally used a device called a "piercer point" as the first markers at his beloved course. They were heavy, bullet-shaped pieces of metal used in the manufacture of seamless pipes, club historian John Fitzgerald said. The piercer points were shoved through pieces of metal to make the tubes.
Eventually, the markers needed replacing. So, during World War II, the club began using similarly shaped artillery shells from a Pittsburgh ordnance factory instead. Since 1940s-era artillery shells no longer are readily available, obviously, a specialty foundry makes cast-iron replacements for the club as needed, said Fitzgerald, a club member since 1962.
3:13 - Hey the promo says the USGA hosts the largest golf archive in the world. But can you make a photocopy?
3:15 - Badds takes a two shot lead and Tiger is going to have to get up and down on 18 after plunking it in the fairway bunker. The NBC guys act like it was a horrific shot, looks like a pretty deep bunker to me!
3:17 - Johnny on Tiger at 18: "He likes bogey free rounds." What a revelation! I know I don't!
3:24 - Badds takes a three shot lead over Woods, Ames, Watson, Cabrera, and Casey. Praise the...sorry.
3:42 - Tiger joins Bob Costas for the post round interview. We learn nothing. He has work to do on the range after hitting 17 greens.
3:48 - The hole-in-one-the-drinks-are-on-me-kid ad!! This just in, the kid has announced plans to enter Champions Tour Q-school this fall.
3:52 - Johnny loves Badds and Stack and Tilt...well he likes the swing, says "forget all that" when Dan Hicks mentions the name.
4:00 - Badds lays up on 17 into sideslope of bunker. Nice 5 inch lie awaits. Love this risk reward golf! What an amazing recovery though to the left fringe! How great does that rear camera view look with the skyline green, the lone flagstick with nothing around it! What an improvement over the 1994 look with trees.
4:12 - Stephen Ames eeks out a bogey at 18 to stay at +5 and retain some momentum as he prepares to defend his Skins Game win this fall.
4:15 - What was that symbol Badds just flashed us walking off 18 tee? Bloods or Crips? Or Church of Nazarene?
4:25 - Badds birdies 18 and gets Tiger in the final pairing.
4:35 - The final group finishes, 4:30 later! The weary fans are filing out in droves. And you get to do it all over again tomorrow, with a forecast high of 87! Don't forget to stop by the Lexus trophy to pose with that replica trophy.