PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Rain nonstop in the morning softened up the course dramatically for the afternoon players Friday at the PGA Championship. In reality it was a double-edged sword. The slower golf course made it easier to stay in the fairways, but wet greens that have been trampled on for a few hours turn into very bumpy putting surfaces, and there is no such thing as an easy three foot putt any more.
Stationed on 11, 14 and 15 again, I saw a number of terrific golf shots, especially on 14. The tee was moved up making the hole “only” 321 yards long, and a much larger percentage of the players just pulled out the driver and went for it. There were a few successes but more interesting were the failures. Players hit through the green on both left and right, but one player whom I will not name to protect his identity hit over the middle of the green and made a quadruple bogey 8.
The 11th hole was a bit harder than Thursday, with the heavier air forcing three iron shots up to 5-wood shots. There were, however, a larger number of shots that ended up on the green. Birdie putts were more common than bogey putts while I was there. The softer green kept a number of balls from running over.
Too many people to list went for the green on 14, with the penalty being a chip from long rough for the most part. Tiger hit one onto the green but then proceeded to three putt from about 50 feet with the ball bouncing all over the place on the way to the hole with his second putt from four feet. Two groups made birdies all around with a couple of lucky longer putts being mixed in with tap ins from inside two feet. I was able to chat with Rickie Fowler on the 15th tee when I was waiting there. He admitted to making downhill putts by just touching the ball then closing his eyes and hoping the bounces worked
A few players really suffered on 15 today, but it was due to bad shots rather than a tight pin placement or being too adventurous. With the hole playing at 171 yards, 7-iron was the club of choice for most with a few longer hitters such as Tiger hitting eight.
Lastly, for me, the best moment of the day was hearing all about endangered rhinos and how they are trying to protect them in South Africa now.
They are injecting the rhino horn with a dye similar to what they use in bags of bank notes. When the people that illicitly kill the rhinos try to cut out the horn they are sprayed with an indelible dye that takes weeks to come off.
More interesting facts tomorrow.
Ian Grant is a PGA teaching professional and a member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He can be contacted at Oak Brook Golf Club 630-990-3032 in the summer and White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville 630-422-1060 in the winter. You can contact Ian directly at 708-917-8951, or at Iansgolf@aol.com.