The Good And Bad At Atlanta Athletic Club Saturday

Pete McDaniel reviews some of the more intriguing moments on the shortened par-4 13th Saturday, which along with a few other touches, appeared to breathe a little life into the tournament by introducing strategy.

Before Saturday's improved setup, John Huggan filed this column on the lack of imagination and thought-provoking situations posed to players at Atlanta Athletic Club, which, more than anything else, may be contributing to the feeling that this does not feel like a major.

But the story would be the same: success in this 93rd PGA Championship is all about execution, or, if you like, an ability to kick field goals from the tee. Any semblance of lateral thought, imagination or flair has been almost completely eliminated. Thank goodness Seve isn't alive to see this - the poor man suffered enough in the last years of his too-brief life.

Boy, am I bored.

Surely this can't be what golf at the highest level has to be about. Surely there has to be something more cerebral about the game when played by the very best. If the most important five inches in golf really are between the ears, why then has such a vital aspect of the greatest sport of all been pushed aside?

Huggan reviews hole by hole how strategy has been stripped out of the design (if it ever existed).

And then there are the bunkers which appear to have way too much sand in the faces. This was either an intentional move as part of the "temporary" sand that head pro Rick Anderson said was imported for the PGA, or simply poor construction and maintenance. There should not be more than two inches in faces for obvious functional reasons (extreme plugged lies, major rehab work needed after a storm).

Interestingly, Rickie Fowler was another bunker victim Saturday and retweeted this Doug Ferguson story about the sand. It's a good read because it offers an explanation for Paul Casey's unbelievable shot Friday night right after Tiger dumped one in the water on 18.

Paul Casey was in a bunker just right of the 18th fairway — the same bunker where moments earlier, Woods put a 4-iron into the water. When he saw his ball, he realized he had received a good break. Why? Because it was in a spot that had been raked.

Needing par to make the cut, he hit 4-iron to 18 feet and two-putted to make it to the weekend.
"It was a spot that had a lot of action," Casey said. "The caddies had raked it and I had a good lie. This sand is lumpy, clumpy, whatever the word is. And it's incredibly light. So the weight of the ball sits down. You can't get at the back of the ball. That's why you're seeing either low shots or chunks. There's no in between."

Now the obvious comeback to this is, they are hazards and AAC should be applauded for treating them that way. I would like to agree, but the stockpiling of sand in the faces just invites plugged lies, which do nothing but add strokes to scorecards.

The solution? I don't know, but I still contend we need to see a tournament where the bunkers are raked Wednesday night before play, and from then on under caddy care through Sunday, with some touch up work for washouts or other mishaps.