Medinah Carved Up: A Par 5 Almost Averages Under 4 On The PGA Tour

Screen Shot 2019-08-15 at 8.39.13 PM.png

I know these guys are good, they’re armed with silly-great equipment, they’re playing a beautifully-maintained Medinah No. 3 and playing all of the par-5’s there as 5’s.

And scoring should absolutely not be a primary barometer to question the role of technology on skill given how many factors influence red numbers.

Still, in looking at the BMW Championship round one scoring, where only two of the 69 players finished over par and the field averaged 69.275 on the once fearsome layout, play at the 536-yard par-5 fifth almost reached a place I never thought possible: averaging under 4.0 on a par-5.

In round one, the 5th averaged 4.087, with 12 eagles, 39 birdies, 18 pars and no bogeys.

On the day, the field made 16 eagles, 296 birdies, 793 pars and 134 bogeys, with just three double bogeys.

As for comparisons to recent PGA Championships there, I’ve been unsuccessful finding the course stats. The PGA of America has bricked their website from functioning, so all links to past PGA Championship stats at Medinah are showing up in searches but not on their site. However, I did find this in my 2006 PGA wrap up post illustrating how tough Medinah was not that long ago:

Comparing the scoring average at Medinah Country Club 1999 and 2006

 Year    Rd 1        Rd 2     Rd 3       Rd 4    Cumulative    36-hole CUT

1999    73.557    73.336    73.581    73.781    73.524        146 (+2)/74 players

2006    72.723    72.591    72.071    73.186    72.635        144 (E)/71 players

Slam Success

The Orlando Sentinel's Steve Elling published this list of the best players in all four majors.

Here’s one race that Tiger Woods can’t win. For the third consecutive year, the Sentinel has crunched the numbers at golf’s major championships and come up with the collective king of the court for 2006, and since only players who made the cut in all Grand Slam events are eligible, Woods didn’t make the grade. Among the other highly ranked stars who missed the cut in at least one major this year were Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen, Padraig Harrington and David Howell. Phil Mickelson and Woods won the cumulative titles in 2004 and 2005, respectively, both at 26 under. In our three years of compiling the list, the two Americans to make the chart marks by far the lowest total, down from seven in 2004 and five last year. (Note: Woods was added purely for the purpose of comparison since he didn’t play on the weekend at the U.S. Open, his first missed cut at a major 10 years as a pro).

Player            Masters    U.S. Open    British        PGA    Total
Phil Mickelson        -7        +6                 -5                -6    -12
Geoff Ogilvy           +1        +5                 -6                -9    -9
Jim Furyk               +3        +6                -12               -3    -6
Adam Scott             +4        +12               -9              -12    -5
Mike Weir                -1        +8                 +1              -11    -3
Ernie Els                +4        +13               -13              -6     -2
Robert Allenby        +3        +11               -6               -5    +3    
Luke Donald           +8        +9                  -2             -12    +3
Jose Maria Olazabal -4      +12               +1              +4   +13
Miguel A. Jimenez    -1        +11              -1               +8   +17
Tiger Woods             -4        +12 (MC)     -18              -18    NA

 

PGA Numbers

Some of you might interested in this press release from TNT, which shares quite a bit of information about their web traffic during last week's PGA. I'm sparing you the quotes about platforming.

PGA.com, with help from TNT and the PGA of America, and a promotional push from Time Warner family members CNN, SI.com and AOL (America Online), recorded a significant 18 percent boost in total page views during the four days of tournament coverage over the previous year (2006: 49,776,993; 2005: 42,220,173), setting a single-day traffic record of more than 16 million page views (16,207,181) for Friday’s second round coverage. The tournament also brought over two million unique users (2,052,205) to the site from Thursday through Sunday. PGA.com Pipeline registered nearly one million video streams (968,478) from Thursday’s launch until the tournament’s conclusion on Sunday.

TNT also enjoyed success for its broadcast coverage, seeing a four percent increase for its 18 hours of coverage (Thursday and Friday 2 - 8 pm ET; Saturday and Sunday 11 am – 2 pm). The network averaging a 1.5 US rating for its four days of coverage, versus 1.4 in 2005, and also enjoyed a four percent growth in home delivery (2006: 1,676,000; 2005: 1,604,000). TNT also saw an increase in key demos with Persons 25-54 up six percent (2006: 694,000;  2005:657,000) and Men 25-54 up eight percent (2006: 507,000;  2005: 471,000), respectively. 

Tiger Likes Low Number Majors

rankandfile3.gifBrett Avery's PGA Championship stat package is now posted online at GolfDigest.com.

He offers an interesting chart on Tiger's major wins.

The gist?

All but two of Tiger's major wins has come at events where the average scoring could be called "low."

Avery writes:

From the 1999 PGA to last week's 2006 PGA at Medinah No. 3, Tiger Woods has won an incredible 11 of 29 major titles. During that span Woods served as a catalyst for distance increases that prompted the transformation of most host courses. While he won last week on the longest course in majors history, it resulted in yet another victory in a championship with a relatively low scoring average in relation to par. Woods has one the five "easiest" majors since the 1999 PGA, including last week (72.635 average or 0.635 over par). 

Staring at the chart, it's hard not to notice that of the majors at the high scoring majors not won by Tiger, each was marked by course setups ranging from way too narrow (Winged Foot, Oak Hill) to borderline goofy (Royal St. George's, Pinehurst, Southern Hills) to completely over the top (Shinnecock Hills).

When you think of the worst setups of the last 7 years, elements of each of the aforementioned come to mind. 

Woods Win and Low Scoring=Great Ratings

According to AP:
Tiger Woods' victory at the PGA Championship helped the TV ratings increase 22 percent from last year.

CBS' final-round coverage Sunday drew an average overnight household rating of 7.2 with a 16 share. That's up from last year's 5.9 rating with a 13 share for Phil Mickelson's victory. This year's rating was the highest for the final round since 2002, when Rich Beem's one-shot victory over Woods earned an 8.0 with a 17 share.

That's quite a contrast to the U.S. Open, which saw its worst ratings in 12 years. The USGA will blame Tiger, but the buzz at Medinah brought on by birdies had to help too.

PGA Clippings, Final Edition

2006pgachamplogo.gif

Brad Klein, in his pre-PGA Medinah review:

Medinah has length. What it doesn't have is a lot of trouble around (or on) the greens. The modestly sloped greens don't unduly punish approaches that are short-sided. With the par 5s vulnerable and little trouble elsewhere, expect lots of low rounds and a tight bunching of the field.

But after 7,500 yards looked so slight, does anyone really think that courses will look at Medinah and say, "we need to inject more of an intelligent purpose to better test the players." You know, like more short grass around greens, leaving the blind shots, and in general, asking players to think their way around (as much as you can until today's equipment is reigned in).

Nope, 8,000 yards and 15-yard fairways, here we come!

That said, the best player won, and Medinah should be proud of producing a great leaderboard.

Here are a few stats off the bat, starting with Tiger Woods and his record on par-72's v. 70s and 71s.

Par        No.        Victories
Par 70      16              1
Par-71       6               1
Par 72      17              10
Total        40              12

And this from the PGA Tour:

Comparing the scoring average at Medinah Country Club 1999 and 2006
 Year    Rd 1        Rd 2     Rd 3       Rd 4    Cumulative    36-hole CUT
1999    73.557    73.336    73.581    73.781    73.524        146 (+2)/74 players
2006    72.723    72.591    72.071    73.186    72.635        144 (E)/71 players

You can look at the final results and money here. The course stats mess is still unresolved. PGA.com has these, PGATour.com has this listing. Basically, we'll have to wait for Golf World stat package.

Doug Ferguson has the details on Tiger's performance, including yet another first you might not know about: "He became the first player in history to go consecutive years winning at least two majors."

AP's Jim Litke describes a surreal moment on the first hole with Luke Donald, Tiger and the tournament.

Lawrence Donegan delivers the European perspective in this game story.

He also reports that Darren Clarke has been offered one of the two European captain's picks. He also says Ian Woosnam's pick issues may lead to Paul McGinley not making the team, which is a minor problem compared to what Tom Lehman faces.

If Woosnam faces difficult decisions ahead, however, they are nothing to the selection worries of his American counterpart. Tom Lehman, who will announce his team later today, has been hidebound by a selection process that has given too much weight to victories in weaker PGA Tour events, with the upshot that many on the fringes of his team are rookies or players whose records suggest that they may be capable winning a tournament in Albuquerque but might crumble under the pressure of the Ryder Cup.

He also writes about David Howell's shoulder injury, which contributed to a final round 82 and has him doubtful for the WGC at Firestone.

Alex Micelli looks at Tom Lehman's Ryder Cup options and says Love and Cink are the likely picks, with Corey Pavin having an outside shot.

Leonard Shapiro also reviews the possibilities and the Pavin pick idea. Pavin sounds a lot more enticing than other alternatives.

John Huggan writes about at a resurgent Mike Weir.

And finally, back to Tiger, Gary Van Sickle says he is on his way to another Tiger slam and offers other notes, though I don't agree with this line:

4. Just for the record, Medinah No. 3, the course that supposedly turned into a birdie-fest, finished with only eight players in double figures under par. While the purists were screeching about the abnormally low scoring not befitting a major, golf fans savored the telecasts.

No, the purists want the players to be allowed to play and shoot the lowest score possible.

The purists just wish the course were firmer with greens designed to provoke thought and creativity.

But hey, the best man won. Again.

Notes From TNT, Vol. 3

This arrived as TNT was signing off at 11 a.m. Pacific, meaning the PR folks didn't waste their day laboring over TNT's first three hours of coverage looking for stellar quotes.

And why would you, when there was this wealth of wisdom and Borscht Belt wit.

Clampett on Stewart Cink making the Ryder Cup team:  “I think he’s a shoe-in for a captain’s pick.  I think he is the one guy who is a shoe-in.  The reason is that he’s been playing very well lately, he’s had three top five finishes this summer.”

And here I was thinking Cink would be picked, too.

Clampett on Sean O’Hair: “I think this is a kid who’s a real up and comer, once he figures out where his swing is and how to swing shots.  He’s a hard worker, a disciplined kid, thinks well on the golf course and has all of the natural features of being a great player.”

"How to swing shots?" Hey remember, all I do is hit copy and paste. TNT does the transcription.

Clampett on the low scoring at Medinah:  “Some of the members here (at Medinah) are really upset about the scores, how low they are.  I’ve heard some talk about that… I just don’t think anyone wants to admit how good these players really are.”

Or we could just roll back the ball and actually make them shape shots and think a little more? Then it's a win-win for everyone!

Clampett on announcing at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, played in Hawaii and broadcast on TNT:  “It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.”

Ha ha, bang fist on table, lololololololol.

Clampett on Sergio Garcia’s apparel at the British Open:  “I think the reason why Sergio (Garcia) wore that canary yellow shirt at the British Open is because he wanted to make a lot of birdies.”

I really feel bad that I ever complained about Steve Melnyk's announcing.
 

Tiger's Post Final Round PGA Press Conference

Decent questions today from the scribblers, except one from a foreign land.

TIGER WOODS: Thanks. It was a special day out there. I just had one of those magical days on the greens today. I just felt like if I got the ball anywhere on the green, I could make it. It's not too often you get days like that, and I happened to have it on the final round of a major championship. So it was a really neat feeling to have.

I was just trying to get the ball in the fairway, trying to get the ball anywhere on the green, and I knew that I felt like I could make anything. It's a special day on the greens today, and I just happened to make some nice bombs early in the front nine to stay ahead.
More modesty...
Q. You told us years ago the fact that you'd tape Nicklaus' records on the wall when you were a kid. Well, you're approaching him now, become No. 2 in majors. Can you discuss that, and is that 18 majors now like the big goal now that you've done everything else?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's still a long way away. It's not something I could get next year. You know, as I said, it took Jack over 20 years to get to his. It's going to take a career, and I've just got to keep plugging along and keep trying to win these things.

These are the most fun events to play in, the major championships. I just thoroughly enjoy coming down the stretch on the back nine with a chance to win it. That's why I practice as hard as I do and what I live for. That to me is the ultimate rush in our sport is on that back nine on Sunday with a chance to win a major championship.

To answer your question, I've still got a long way to go. 18 is a pretty big number.

The lack of root structure seems to be the developing theme with regard to the greens... 
Q. Some players talked about the greens and said they were really able to hold them well, and the reason being is because they're only a few years old and the root structures hadn't set in there. Wondering what your opinion on that is.

Also, you said you prefer major championships to be single digits. Having won at 18 under, do you take that? Is that okay, too?

TIGER WOODS: I'm never going to say no if I win. No, the guys are right. The root structure wasn't there, and every ball is just splashing and bringing up making huge ball marks. We're bringing up dirt. You're never going to get balls bouncing on these greens at all, this week, and then with the rain this week it just made it worse.

You just had the feeling early in the week even when you played the practice rounds that guys were going to make some birdies this week. All the par 5s with good drives, except for 14, so basically three of the four par 5s were reachable, pretty much for all players. You knew that guys were going to be bunched up making a bunch of birdies. Then you had the soft greens, and guys were going to continue making birdies.

One thing they never got this week is they never got the greens quick. Even if you had downhill putts you were never afraid the ball was going to run out. You never were cautious on a downhill putt, you thought you could still ram it in there and knock it in there. That's normally not the case in most majors. But this week it just happened to be an aberration.

It will be interesting to see if anyone parades this next quote out in defense of the state of the game and equipment (they will be ignoring the millions people spend to get golf courses playing somewhat similar):

...I played it basically the same positions I played in '99, just the ball has changed since '99. The ball is going a lot further. But I'm basically hitting 3 wood or 5 wood to the same exact spots I hit 3 wood or 2 iron the last time we played. I basically played it to the same spots I did last time and accepted that, didn't try and cut over any of the doglegs with driver. For instance, today on 5, it was blowing down off the right so I went with 3 wood off the tee because if I hit driver I would have to take it over the corner of the trees down there and I wouldn't have any room. I could run it in a far bunker so I laid it back. That's basically the way I played the golf course in '99.

And what would a week at a tree lined inland layout be without a "right in front of you" quote from Tiger...

TIGER WOODS: Well, as far as the first part of your question, Medinah Country Club is one of the neat places. I've played here a few times actually, as well as in the '99 PGA. And 2006 PGA I've come out here with M.J. and we've played a little bit. I've always loved playing here. It's a straightforward golf course. We don't get to play golf courses like this. That's why guys love Charlotte, love playing at Firestone next week, why guys love playing Riviera.

These are golf courses that are straightforward, classic golf courses that are just right in front of you. They're difficult but they're not tricked up like how most of the modern golf courses are now. It's a very straightforward the membership has done a fantastic job of getting prepared for us and having open arms and just having a great event this weekend.

This was funny...

Q. What did you first think when you saw that Luke came out wearing a red shirt today? And can you recall the last time anyone wore a red shirt when paired with you on Sunday at a major?

TIGER WOODS: I don't recall, no. No, sorry. I didn't think anything of it. I thought it was kind of weird to have a blue belt with it (laughter).

Here's why Tiger is a saint. I don't care how bad this person's English is, lost in translation is no excuse for first askig this question, and then following up obnoxiously.

Q. When I was out there on the putting green, I found that Phil Mickelson signed autographs for kids every day all the time and you seldom did or never did. What's the reason? And does that mean you don't like kids or you love golf more than kids?

TIGER WOODS: I sign at the range, but I didn't do it around the clubhouse, no. There are too many people, and kids get run over. It actually gets pretty dangerous. We had a barricade go down this week. It gets a little dangerous at times.

Q. And a follow up, I know that you will come to China this November for HSBC Championship. Will you give more autographs to Chinese kids than last year? I think you did it once or twice.

TIGER WOODS: Trust me, I did more than that.

Q. I'd appreciate it.

TIGER WOODS: You got it.

Like I said. A saint.

Micheel On Tiger

The PGA runner-up sums up Tiger pretty nicely here...

Q. It's obviously no secret that Tiger is back on a roll again. I'm just curious what your take is on where his game is in relation to everybody else right now, and is it getting to be sort of a 2000 ish feeling again with what Tiger is doing?

SHAUN MICHEEL: I suppose. He's obviously well, he's still an incredible putter, and he's just such an intimidating force, really. For him to go out and I said this earlier, for him to hit 11 out of 14 fairways on this golf course where you basically are having to hit wood off the tee at the Open Championship, I don't know how many drivers he hit, probably not more than oh, he hit one, okay. So he's hitting a lot of 2 irons, and he was just in control of his game.

That's what you've got to have. You've got to have control of your golf ball. When you pull the driver out, sometimes you lose that control, but he wasn't forced to do that. I don't know how many drivers he hit this week, either. He probably wasn't forced to hit as many because I know the 7,500 yards was the longest in PGA history, but it really didn't play that because there's a lot of doglegs and there's a lot of holes you can kind of cut some yardage off. He's going to be dominating whether he's playing well or not. Tiger has a unique ability to play well when he thinks he's not playing well. I mean, we all kind of smirk and laugh when he says he's got his B game, but that's better than most of our A games. He's just that good.

He doesn't do anything silly. He doesn't make any mistakes. He's so mentally tough there, I'm not sure anything ever bothers him. I wish I had that feeling just once.

Live Blog Sunday, PGA

2006pgachamplogo.gifAll times Pacific...here we go...

10:37 - Tiger Woods finally arrives at the course, Stevie nearly runs over Bob Bubka. Tiger gets out of the car looking like a prize fighter heading to the ring. Total focus, though he does acknowledge the sizeable crowd there to greet him. Oh, and he already has his glove in his back pocket!  

11:03 - "The humidity is down, but the air is thick with anticipation." -Jim Nantz

11:14 - Lanny: "Geoff Ogilvy is the guy to watch." 

11:52 - Ogilvy birdies No. 1 to get within 2.

12:02 - Tiger birdies 1. Donald pars. Rout is on? 

11:53 - Who dresses Sergio? He looks like a USC football coach, circa 1976. 

11:54 - Ogilvy hits it in the water on 2. The wind appears to be having an impact on play.

12:10 - Tiger nearly chips in on 2, which would have sent me to the beach. But..he doesn't, so it's not over. And hey, Weir birdies 4 to get within 2. 

12:20 - Ogilvy four putts 3, drops to -9. Tiger two putts 3, coasting.  Donald pars 3, one back.

12:38 - Donald in divot on 4 fairway, misses green left, doesn't get up and down. Tiger two putts, lead is 2 over Weir and Donald at -13. Sergio is -12, Micheel and Scott -11, Ogilvy -10.

12:47 - Weir makes 4 at No. 5 to get one back, but Tiger follows it up by hiting green in two. Donald hits his third shot tight out of the rough, USGAers see poster child shot for grooves regulation.

12:51 - Nantz says Michael Jordan is a 4.8 index golfer, translating to a 7 at Medinah. 

12:52 - Tiger two putts for birdie on 5, lead goes to two again. Donald misses his birdie putt on 5.

1:05 - Tiger drains a long one on 6 to take a three shot lead, going to -17. It's over. 

1:08 - Tiger pulls out driver on 7 to work on his driving distance average and bombs it into the oaks. Oh well, he's still over 320 for the week. It's all that roll! 

1:18 - Lanny says he doesn't think Medinah has played its 7500 yard yardage this week. It's the roll! 

1:22 - Donald and Tiger par No. 7. Weir pars 8. Did I mention it's over? 

1:25 - Phil has his second rough whiff of the year.

1:26 - Lanny on Scott: "If he can post something you never know, there's trouble on the back nine par-3s, that's about it."

1:28 - Sandy Tatum tells girl of Asian descent that she reminds him of Bobby Jones. Yes, it's official, the commercials are more entertaining than the golf. 

1:31 - Tiger drains a bomb on 8! Wow. We're moving into record score territory now. Will he get to -20? 

1:46 - Tiger saves par from the bunker on 9. Remains four ahead. The beach is sounding better and better. 

1:47 - Scott reaches 14 in two, has eagle putt to get to -14, within four of Tiger. Don't turn it off yet! 

1:48 - Tiger misses 10 fairway again. Oh well, he tried using 3 wood. Bet he pars it today.

1:55 - Lanny is still trying to convince us that there is enough trouble on the back that Tiger could lose this. Now I'm definitely thinking of heading to the beach! Confirmation that it is over. 

2:01 - Weir misses 11 green from 141 in the fairway, I'm outta here! Going to listen to Lanny and the boys at the beach.

 

PGA Clippings, Sunday Edition

2006pgachamplogo.gifThe fourth round hole locations are posted, and 15 are 5 or fewer paces from the edge.  Nine holes are 4 or fewer paces from the edges. And based on the tucked holes I saw on TV today, Verne Troyer must be handling the pacing.

I'm not sure what to make of the course statistics, but it appears they a bit off at the official site. PGATour.com has the stats for all three rounds, but they're also severely lacking. How is that course data is becoming so hard to come by?

Doug Ferguson takes a dizzying look at various majors, their winning score and he defends Medinah. It's fascinating how obsessed everyone is with the scoring isn't it? You can bet it if Tiger was out of it and it was a Shaun Micheel-K.J. Choi final pairing, there would be plenty of howling about what a disaster this is.

Tom English in The Scotsman writes, "The birdies landed with such regularity you would have sworn it was the annual turkey shoot at the Bob Hope Classic you were watching instead of one of the pre-eminent tournaments of the year."

Just to show how wacky the U.S. Ryder Cup situation is, John Hawkins posted some thoughts on the standings Friday night. After round 3, things have changed again. He also has an interesting tidbit on Tiger reportedly lobbying for Fred Couples to be picked.

Hawkins's dream best-ball partner, SI's Alan Shipnuck, files a video report following round 3. No direct link is available, just go to SI's PGA homepage.

Mark Lamport-Stokes writes about the "headache" facing Tom Lehman as many of the U.S. players on the Ryder Cup bubble struggle.

Golfweek offers this list of points standings for the U.S. and what players need to overtake Brett Wetterich in the 10th spot, though I'm not sure if I'm misreading it or if they are lacking a few of the promised numbers.

Sandy Lyle writes about Tiger and the likelihood of Darren Clarke returning for the Ryder Cup.

Alex Micelli explains the rationale behind that weird takeaway move that Ryan Moore is using to help his ailing wrist.

Tom English writes about how well Tommy Armour is remembered at Medinah but not in his native Scotland.

John Huggan weighs in on how Henrik Stenson lost and found his game.

If you saw Rich Lerner's TGC story Saturday on Craig Dolch's son Eric and his recent struggles, here's the website with more on his condition and how you can help.

And Jerry Potter quotes Stewart Cink and others about the softness of the greens.

When we come to a PGA Championship or U.S. Open," said Stewart Cink, who shot 73, "you're expected to feel fear on the tee because you know you absolutely have to hit the fairway. That's where the difference is this week. The holes just don't feel that way."

"The balls are landing, making craters like the moon," he said. "I watched Phil Mickelson hit a wood into a par 3, and the ball did not bounce. Literally, it just stuck and plugged in the green in its own pitch mark from 250 yards. Some of that is due to the rain, but the balls have been doing that all week."

Woods's Post 3rd Round PGA Press Conference

Do you understand this first question?

Q. A couple years ago, the USGA was criticized for letting weather intervene and lose control of their golf course at Shinnecock. Is there the anti Shinnecock, and are criticisms justified in the same context of letting weather intervene and lose a certain element of control of the golf course?

TIGER WOODS: Well, you really can't toughen it much up, other than getting the greens a little faster. That's about the only thing you can do. The pins are pretty tough as it is. They are not extremely difficult, like, you know, they could be. But they are still pretty tough.

The only thing that's different is the green speeds are slow enough where you're not really afraid of any downhill putts. You don't have that roll out after a good putt. Everything seems to be stopping.

If I look at most of the telecast, if the guys do miss a putt, it's usually short. In major championships, that's normally not the case. It's always rolling out past the hole a little bit.

And this was a bit surprising... 

Q. Some players have been criticized because they think the course is playing too easy, it's not like a major. Personally, would you rather it be a very, very tough setup or do you mind where you can go out and make birdies and not just be making pars all day long?

TIGER WOODS: I've always preferred the winning score is in single digits. I think that's always good. If I can shoot 1 under par per nine holes for all 18 holes sorry, for all 72 holes, then 8 under par I think is a very good way to play. But, you know, you'd be run over if you did that this week.

Weir's Post 3rd Round PGA Press Conference

Mike Weir was also asked about the scoring and its reflection on Medinah...
Q. This isn't intended on a reflection on an obviously great round, but we have six players in double figures under par now, we have 47 players in the field under par. Without a greater premium on scoring in this circumstance, what separates Medinah from John Deere or a dozen other tour stops in these conditions?

MIKE WEIR: Well, I think a lot. This golf course is still very demanding. Some of those tournaments, you miss the fairway, you can still get on the green. I mean, I hit it in the rough on 18 and I was hitting a sand wedge out. So there's still a premium on hitting the ball in the fairway. Given the conditions and the rain, I think the course was on its way to starting to get firmer before yesterday's rain. So the weekend would have shaped up quite a bit different than what we have right now.

You know, the PGA of America can't control Mother Nature. What can you do? It is what it is. You've got to make some birdies out there.

Ogilvy's Post 3rd Round PGA Press Conference

Lurking dangerously at 11-under despite a first hole double bogey, Geoff Ogilvy was asked about the scoring and setup.

Q. How would you compare the difficulty of this course compared to Winged Foot? And, secondly, given the numbers that people are throwing up there today, is it possible to feel sorry for a golf course given these conditions?

GEOFF OGILVY: I don't think so. I mean, no. I don't think good scores should be I don't think the quality of the golf course should be related to score at all, to be honest with you. I mean, fairly widely known that St. Andrews is one of the best golf courses in the world and they tear that up every time they go and everyone loves playing it.

This is the setup has got so much to do with it. If you had greens as firm as Winged Foot were and rough like Winged Foot was and as narrow as Winged Foot was, there would not be many people under par. If you had Winged Foot as soft as this, we would not be going as low as this but people would have been under par. So much has to do with how firm the greens are and how long the rough is and how narrow the fairways are. Winged Foot, the fairways are very narrow and the ball was bouncing in them so they played a lot narrower as well.

But Winged Foot has some scary greens with slopes and stuff, probably scarier than here, if both were setup identically, which they couldn't be, but Winged Foot was still playing harder. This is still a pretty stellar test. If you had the rough up more, firm greens, it would be pretty hard.

But I like it this way. I think people are having fun watching it and the players are having fun playing it. It's pretty good fun to go out there and have birdies all week in a major. I don't think the quality of the golf course should be judged by the scores we shoot. I think sometimes if we shoot good scores, it should be, hey, that's a good golf course, look how much fun they are having out there, you know. That's the point, isn't it?

Thoughts On Saturday?

It started out thrilling with seemingly everyone having a chance, but thankfully now it's down to about 8 or so likely contenders, with Woods probably in the driver's seat. A Garcia, Ogilvy or Weir charge would be fun tomorrow.

I guess my only thought would be that we saw today how much the "Sub-air" green systems have helped firm up greens at Augusta after rains. It was stunning to see how many balls at Medinah stopped where they landed, even late in the day. 

Your thoughts on the round, the course and the winner?

Live Blog Saturday, PGA

2006pgachamplogo.gifI'm here and recovering from the morning antics of Lundquist, Clampett and Kratzert. I won't bother to start on Kratzert's claim that since the ball is flying longer and straighter, "you have to do something," referring to narrowing fairways.

11:07 - It's a beautiful day in Chicago. Hazy, muggy and wet. CBS reports that 27 players are within 3 shots of the lead.

11:11 - Jim Nantz asks Lanny "who cares" that there are so many red numbers and you have such a great leaderboard. Amen.

11:15 - After Garcia makes birdie, Oosty reports that 20 birdies have been made on No. 2 and it's averaging 2.7. 

11:16 - Oosty reports hole location on No. 11 is 6 feet from back of green, one of the "closest he's ever seen" to the back of a green.(Listed as 21 back and 4 from the left edge on the pin sheet.)

11:34 - Oosty reports over an inch of rain overnight, but notes how smooth the greens are rolling. 7 tied for the lead. 

11:36 - Tiger drains 30 footer on No. 1 for par, still hasn't made a bogey since his opening hole Thursday.

11:45 - Tiger hits 8 iron 196 yards on No. 2, makes birdie. 

11:48 - Ogilvy doubles No. 1 from the center of the fairway. 

11:54 - Loves holes out for birdie from the sand on No. 2 the 24th birdie there! Ten are tied for the lead.

12:00 - Ten tied for the lead are: Woods, Mickelson, Garcia, Love, Toms, DiMarco, Donald, Herron, Andrade, Stenson! 

12:07 - Donald birdies No. 2...the par-2! 

12:15 - Donald birdies No. 3, leads by two at -10. 

12:26 - Contractually obligated interview with Roger Warren, very exciting stuff. Jim thanks Warren for "all of the integrity that comes out of your organization."

12:32 - Davis holes out for second time today on No. 5, this time for birdie. "Maybe he knew what he was doing when he chunked it into the bunker," says Nantz. Oy. Lanny: "they don't put pictures on the scorecard Jim." Double oy.

12:53 - Micheel moves to -10 with birdie on No. 8, within one of Donald's lead.  Hey, where's Bobby Clampett? I haven't heard him once as I catch up on TiVo. What's the point of live blogging if I don't have him to make fun of?

12:58: Donald -11, Tiger, Weir and Micheel -10 

1:01 - Donald birdies No. 6, has 7 putts through 6 holes. Time for first Sandy Tatum commercial with old rich white man talking down to multicultural children about life. What a campaign.

1:19 - Tiger shoots 32, Micheel 30 on the front nine. Wait, I hear Clampett! All is right with the world.

1:31 - Lanny: "What is it about the PGA that brings out the best in Shaun Micheel." Oak Hill members are still asking that question.  

1:33: Sergio and Phil make birdies to get to -9. 

1:34: Donald chips in on No. 9, shoots 31, goes to -13.  

1:36 - Tiger drains 10-footer for par on 10, continues to struggle with that par-5 though. Weir birdies 14, goes to 7-under on the day.

1:47: Weir hits it tight on 15 out of fairway bunker, moves to 8 under on the round and has a shot at the course record. CBS reminds us of his final round 80 in '99 at Medinah. 

2:06 - Isn't it interesting that as the pace slows down (Kostis says they are waiting on every shot on the back nine), the momentum of the telecast and play slows...or maybe it's just time for my afternoon siesta? 

2:23 - Tiger birdies 13...the field is starting to separate finally. 

2:34 - Sergio tap in birdie gets him to -10. Only Tiger, Donald, Ogilvy, Weir and Micheel are ahead of him... 

2:37 - Tiger gets up and down on 14 for birdie, ties Donald for the lead.  

2:42 - Tiger is in a divot on 15. Clampett suspects he'll catch the shot on the "second groove." Tiger sticks it 3 feet from the hole. Makes birdie, is 14 under and 7 under on the round. Third birdie in a row.

3:10 - I'm awake after a brief depature. Woods and Riley walk from 17 tee to green talking. Nantz astutely notes that Tiger's eyes never move while Riley turns his head to talk to Woods. Riley looks like an eager pro-am partner trying to get in a few words with his player. 

3:13 - Tiger drains birdie putt on 17 after three-putt on 16, regains lead, birdie on 18 will break course record.

3:25 - Tiger nearly drains a long one on 18 for birdie, settles for 65 and -14 under finish, which is about to be tied by Luke Donald who sticks it on 17. 

3:32 - Bill Macatee interviews Tiger after his 65. Where is Peter Kostis. Tiger says it doesn't "feel like a major, in a sense" because of the scoring. 

3:54 - Just when we had made it through the entire day with a solid, clean, no-nonsense announce effort, Jim Nantz says that Luke Donald is "artistically, the most gifted guy out here on Tour." Okay fine, but then, "And tomorrow let's see what he can draw up here with Medinah as his canvas." And then Lanny, piling on top of the metaphor, "Let's see if he can paint himself a pretty picture. And hopefully he won't paint himself into a corner."   

 

 

  

PGA Clippings, Saturday Edition

2006pgachamplogo.gifJust a brief weather update from here in the Home of the Homeless, which won't host another PGA in our lifetimes after the '95 debacle: 74 today after morning low clouds, 10-15 mph afternoon sea breezes. Forecasters expect it to heat up Saturday and Sunday, with the highs pushing 75 both days. Oh, and no rain since May. 

Here are your Saturday tee times, assuming they start on time with overnight rains and thunderstorms in the forecast.

I'm not sure how accurate this is, but PGA.com has Saturday's hole locations already posted. 13 of the hole locations are 5 or fewer paces from the edge, 12 of those are 4 or less from the edge. It'll be interesting to see if they stick with that after the overnight rain.

You can view the course stats here, though there isn't much to study. 13 and 16 are playing the toughest. The "cost of rough" stat is not posted.
 
Lawrence Donegan covers the European perspective, with Stenson and Donald providing hope for the beleagured continent. John Huggan has a nice profile on Stenson in the September Golf Digest, but it's not posted online.

Tim Dahlberg pretty much trashes Davis Love in an AP column.

Davis Love III has always felt like he has more at stake in golf than most of his fellow competitors. They merely play the game. He protects it. When a fan yells instead of politely clapping, Love is there to make sure he's removed. If a photographer clicks a shutter at the wrong moment, he's on top of it.

And don't let a writer ask a question that might impugn the integrity of the game, as one tried to do Friday when he dared ask Love what he thought about Greg Norman calling for players to be tested for drugs.

"I don't want to answer anything Greg says," Love said, walking off in a huff.

No wonder Love is having so much trouble making the Ryder Cup team.

He's too busy making sure everyone behaves--and believes--the way he wants them to.

"I think I stand up for the things that Tom Kite or Ben Crenshaw or Byron Nelson stand up for, and sometimes that gets you in trouble," Love said. "I stand up for the things that my mom taught me and what I learned since I was a little kid in Sunday school, and sometimes people don't like that these days."
Either way, Love was so free of outside worries that he managed to do something he's rarely done recently _ get himself in contention for a weekend that matters as much to him as making sure everyone takes off their hat to shake hands after a round.

And it doesn't get any nicer from there.

Finally, Larry Stewart of the L.A. Times had nothing to write about this week, so he covered the CBS conference call where Jim Nantz made these interesting remarks:

What Woods has wrought, Nance said, is "the golden age of golf. There's never been a better time. I know Jack [Nicklaus] and Arnie [Palmer] probably would cringe if they heard me say this, or Byron [Nelson] and Ben [Hogan] and Sam Snead would say, 'Wait a minute, what about our time?' But I believe right now, today, is the best time the game has ever been in….

"Golf has a place in pop culture today like it never has in the past."

Yes, and so does Big Brother 5. Which, by the way airs Tuesday at...

Love's Post 2nd Round PGA Press Conference

Davis Love after posting 137 for two rounds.

Q. I know you'd like to win any of the other three majors, but you've always had a special affinity to the PGA Championship. Could you speak to that?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I've always enjoyed it. I think in my 20 years of playing, this has become a tournament that the players enjoy more maybe than some of the other majors just because of the way they set the golf course up, and the approach of the PGA of America. They've really made an effort just because they were the fourth one of the year, they've always been somewhat thought of as the last one or not the best one. You know, they've made a major no pun intended effort in golf courses, in setup. I think Kerry Haigh does an incredibly good job. They're not afraid of red numbers, and I think some of the other people that are setting up golf courses are afraid of red numbers, and therefore it makes it not as good a championship.

THE PLAYERS Championship has gone a little bit in that direction a couple times, getting afraid of it. So I think we're going to move back in the direction of setting up the golf course like this and letting the players play. If a guy is playing great, let him be 7 under through 10. If he hits a bad shot and screws up, he's going to make a triple. I think that's the way it ought to be. I don't think you should have a ten footer for par every hole. I think they do a good job here. Obviously the history of my father and him playing in the Championship and it being important to him has certainly made it important to me.

Love how the ASAP person got THE PLAYERS in caps.  

Ogilvy's Post 2nd Round PGA Press Conference

After posting 137 for 36-holes, placing him one behind that group of 21st century Lou Graham's.
Q. Two part question. Did you feel as relaxed out there as you looked?

GEOFF OGILVY: I was pretty comfortable. It's weird. I mean, I said it to you earlier in the week. It's like public speaking in front of 20 people is quite an awkward thing to do. Public speaking in front of 1,000 people is fine because it's all just a blur. There's just so much craziness and background noise and stuff going on. But it's just kind of a big blur in the background and you're just probably focused a little bit better and you get on with it. I quite enjoy it, too.

Q. What was the most interesting thing said over two days in that threesome, particularly if it was said between Tiger and Phil?

GEOFF OGILVY: I didn't hear anything that they were saying to each other actually. I don't know, they were talking I guess they were talking about normal stuff, schedule or what club did you hit there or I don't know. I don't think they were talking about where they were going to go to dinner tonight. I don't know, I didn't really listen too much, to be honest with you.

Notes From TNT's Coverage...Day 2

Down on your job? Just remember, you could be the poor soul who has to sit through six hours of TNT coverage in search of memorable Bobby Clampett commentary.

And for what? To send to snarky writers, most of whom delete before even opening the email. But not this optimistic soul.

Notes from TNT’s Coverage of Round Two of the 2006 PGA Championship
August 18, 2006

Clampett on a possible match-up between Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods in the final round of the PGA Championship: “You almost get the sense, as they shot 69 yesterday, that we might have another Nicklaus-Watson duo of Turnberry.  It’s a little early to call that, but you just get that feeling.”

You didn't believe me when I posted about this earlier, did you? They left out the part where Kostis questions his sanity.

Clampett on Phil Mickelson's recent struggles:  “It’s been frustrating for Phil because he feels that his practice has gone very well, he just hasn’t been executing in the competitions.”

 Take that Henry Longhurst!

Wadkins on Tiger Woods’ shot on hole #1 in which a member of the gallery reached up and stopped his shot from going further off the fairway into the rough:  “Since it was an intentional deflection an official could have estimated where that ball would have ended up and Tiger should have dropped it and played from that spot.  Tiger, nor anyone in his group, knew that was an intentional deflection so there is no penalty involved.  Since the hole has been played and completed, they will continue on and it’s a non-factor.  Had there been a rules official there that had seen that, they might have moved Tiger’s ball further in the woods making the pitch out even tougher.  But there is no fault or error on Tiger’s part whatsoever.”

Hey, Lanny didn't come up with that on his own. Some mysterious PGA rules expert alerted them to this.

Kostis on international players attending American colleges: “People talk about our college programs in America not producing many good, young golfers.  They do, it’s just that their names are (europeans) Luke Donald, Tim Clarke, Paul Casey.”

Well, let's be fair. Casey's success comes from having a great teacher in Butch Harmon. Wait, no, it's Haney. No it's Utley, that's it!