The U.S. seems strong but it’s worth mentioning that a few guys who look like solid bets to be on the team — Bubba Webb and Tiger to name three — haven’t had much success in the event. I think it’s a coin-flip as most Ryder Cups are these days. But in the meantime keep talking Monty! It only adds to the anticipation.
I’ve only played Scottish links so that’s my answer. Then again even if I’ve played in Ireland my last two rounds were at Royal Aberdeen and St. Andrews’ Old Course. I’m flying high on the Scotland variety right now.
There’s also the ever-nagging question of how to grow the game. With so much money floating around the upper echelons of the pro game I’ve heard grumblings about the PGA seeming increasingly out of touch for the everyday member to say nothing of the everyday golfer. I think there’s some truth to that.
Tiger has about 300 yards left to the green and he opts to lay up with an iron landing safely in the fairway. JT is a few yards ahead of Tiger in the same bunker and also lays up. Rory meanwhile has a lie that is much worse than it looked originally and is forced to lay up as well.
…and he take a lash with the driver but his shot also drifts right into the deep rough. The feature group is underway at Bellerive. Thomas is up first hitting driver…and he splits the fairway. Rory is next: another driver and it leaks into the right rough. And now Woods…
McIlroy takes rip from the deep rough and comes up short — his ball is in one of the many deep bunkers at Bellerive. Woods from 217 yards from the deep rough on this par 4 and tree-trouble in front of him…and he takes a half-wedge and punches it back to the fairway. Nothing else he could do there.
It’s Tony Finau time. He’s been knocking at the door in the majors and now he comes to a big straight-forward layout that favors bombers and an event that has no par-3 tournament for him to wreck his ankle in. Sleeper: Luke List. Putting is his historical weakness but he’s been rounding into form and is coming off a strong showing at Firestone a course that plays not unlike Bellerive.
You split the baby because you have no other choices. The governing bodies want to reward effort in the map-making department. It will be hard to enforce but the players need to do that more than the officials. It’s a work in progress.
Sleeper: Kevin Na. Yes he only has two top-10 finishes in major championships over the course of his career but he’s having a stellar season with a win at the Greenbrier in July and three other top 10s. I like him!
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’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.
On the quality of courses I’d say too close to call. But if I had one trip to make I’d make it Scotland and not for the history but for the geographyit’s just easier to play lots and lots of great courses with less travel hassle there.