TV showed a lot of Tiger’s warm-up session this morning. If I had to describe it in three words it would be “a warm-up session.” Everything seems fine. He’s heading to the tee and off soon with Rory and JT.
On the par-4 15th Rory swinging driver finds the right side of the fairway. That one was smoked. …and he come up short as well. He taps for par. Looks like pars all around here. Rory’s putt trundles down the slope but comes up about 5 feet short. JT leaves his birdie 3 feet short..and now Tiger…
Sleeper: Kyle Stanley. I had Stanley locked in as a sleeper last week; his runner-up finish at Firestone makes him slightly less sleepy but I like the way his ballstriking sets up for Bellerive. Plus there’s the added potential bonus of Stanley completing the Former Nike Staffer Without a Club Deal Grand Slam.
That’s eleven. So Bryson Webb Schauffele and Finau are all competing for the last spot on the team. Only way for any of them to be sure they’re on the team is to be in the top eight a week from now.
On the 241-yard par-3 16th McIlroy and Thomas find the green but not close to the hole. Woods overcooks and iron long and left and it settles next to the grandstand. Thomas kicks in his third birdie of the opening nine and he’s tied for the lead and looking totally in control. McIlroy pars to stay -1.
Bigly (if I am using that correctly). Significantly. Props to Chamblee for qualifying but qualifying is one thing and contending is another. The nod goes to Watson and it’s not really close. Adding to that Brandel’s qualifier was just 18 holes. Tom Watson contended into Sunday! These two are really not quite comparable. Watson’s was far far more impressive.
There’s no question that Watson’s was the better objective show of golf but I was more impressed with Brandel. The guy hasn’t played competitively in years and seized the opportunity to show the player-haters on Tour that he’s more than just talk. Wish he’d showed better in the main event but medalist honors a day after wrapping up Open analysis gives Chamblee my vote.
On the par-3 13th Woods knocks one to about 15 for a good look at birdie. Rory finishes with twirl and his ball settles about 10 feet away. JT misses the green. JT drains it to drop to -2. Woods gets back to +2.
So as we make the turn to No. 1 Tiger is at +2 JT remains tied for the lead at -3 and Rory is at even par. All right! Tiger drains his birdie to get back to +2 through his first nine. JT misses his birdie and settles for par and Rory takes a bogey.
142 left for JT and he too hits it pretty tight just outside of Tiger. Rory meanwhile has 137 from the right rough and gets a flyer which lands over the green. 184 yards left for Tiger. He nails it! Looks like about three feet left for birdie and the gallery loves it.
Monty’s claim was enough of a hedge (“Well almost ever”) that I wouldn’t bother trying to refute it. And I agree that the Europeans are very very strong this year. And that their strength has been overlooked/downplayed amid the hype surrounding all the youthful talent the Americans will field. Sometime ago our own Alan Shipnuck boldly predicted a U.S. romp. I disagreed with him then and I disagree now. I expect this to be close and I expect Europe to win.
I’ve underestimated him at two of the majors this year but I expect Jordan Spieth to contend deep into the weekend at this one so what the heck: why not just win it and finish the career slam right here? Bellerive is tree-lined with deep penal bunkers and big greens.