Rory. The driving game he showed in Akron for one thing. Also how long can you keep a good man down? Sleeper: Bryson. He’s earned his place in the darkhorse category because of the talk around him. Example: he’s choking his way off the Ryder Cup team (some people will say) he had a fit of driving-range craziness (some will say) at the Open and he was classless and looked lost (some will say) in the final day in Germany.
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.
He made the cut at both the U.S. Open (T41) and British Open (T39) so he knows what it feels like to be around for the weekend in a major. Don’t be surprised to see this Fox go crazy at the PGA.
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.
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.
I agree with DylanBryson makes it on points or not at all. Broadly speaking that’s not only appropriate for a first-time player it’s also smart.
Woods has a gap in the trees and he’s going to try a tough escape shot that reaches the green. Buckle up. Thomas rips one up the chute and Woods also with driver hits it into he trees left of the fairway. That one looks like punch-out but we’ll see how it’s lying.
Justin Thomas meanwhile pars the 16th to remain -3 and tied atop the leaderboard with Stewart Cink. Greetings folks. Jess Marksbury with you for the next two hours. And I’m just in time for another Tiger bogey on the par-3 16th. Bummer. He falls to +3 for the day.
Does prohibitive mean you cannot make a case for somebody else? I’ll make a case against JT and his sunshine bandit is extremely difficult to do it for eight consecutive rounds. Four is hard five is harder — then there’s six and seven. Eight is way way hard.
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.
I’ll always think of him as a savvy negotiator (witness the mega-TV contract he nailed down for the Ryder Cup with NBC). In terms of challenges there’s the matter of boosting the PGA Championship to the status of something more than the afterthought major and of finding the right venues for the newly rejiggered schedule.
It was captivating TV and I certainly felt bad for him. But this would only cost him a Ryder Cup spot if it happened the week before captain’s picks and it was clear a spot was on the line. Final-round bust-ups happen. He has a few more weeks to make a statement and in the process make the team.