And the winner is…..The Wind. In a stiff breeze that looked like some of winds we get in Florida during tropical storms, the only golfer to post a score in the 60’s was 49 year old V.J. Singh. V.J. posted his score early, but the wind blew all day at the 94th PGA Championship being played at Kiawah Island Golf Resort on Kiawah Island South Carolina.
On a golf course that has a stroke rating at just a smidgen over 74, we saw a Friday scoring average just a smidgen over 79 for the worlds best golfers. Gary McCord said on the TNT broadcast, which started at just about the time Singh was getting done with his round, that his two day total of 4 under par might climb into the lead by days end, and it did. V.J. ended up tied with Carl Pettersson and Tiger Woods for the tournament lead. The cut wasn’t calculated until Saturday morning, because Joost Luiten was not able to finish his second round Friday night. The cut line ended up being +6.
Tiger Woods, teeing off with defending PGA Champion Keegan Bradley and 2010 PGA winner Martin Kaymer on the front nine, put on a putting clinic over the first 5 holes. Woods made a 10 foot putt on the first hole, and birdied the par five second hole on his way to a 70, and a share of the lead. He made a 40 foot putt on the 12th hole andlooked to be the Tiger Woods of old with the putter. His only belmishes on a day that took no prisoners, was a bogey at eight, and eighteen. Bradley shot a five over 77 and ended his day at +1.
First round leader Carl Pettersson shot a 2 over par 74. Other golfers making some ground on the leaderboard Friday, were Ian Poulter shooting a one under 71, and Blake Adams. Phil Mickelson shot a one under par 71, and held position at even par. There were only four golfers under par, VJ Singh, Tiger Woods, Ian Poulter and Phil. What a blood bath.
With the cut at 150, there were some pretty good golfers making reservations to go home Saturday morning. Among the casualties were U.S. Open winner, Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler and Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III. Among the PGA club professionals who were playing in the wind tunnel, Michael Frye and Doug Wade were in the 90’s. Does us hackers some good to see those numbers from the pro’s.
Although the Ocean Course at Kiahwah Island has the look of a European Links course, it does not play like one. With the Paspalum grass that is on the greens here, the players are not able to play link style run up golf. The blades of grass grow straight up, and do not lend themselves to roll that is based on which way the grass lays. The grass being straight up, causes more drag(friction) on the ball, thus the players must hit shots that fly the ball to the flag. This problem is deadly when the wind blows as hard as it did on Friday. We were seeing steady wind at 17-25 miles per hour, and gusts as high as 38 MPH. That is why the pros were having so much trouble getting balls to the greens and thus slowing play to a crawl.
Conditions are predicted to be better on Saturday, with the wind laying down some. There is a possibility of some afternoon rain that may or may not stop play for a while. The leaders are not slated to tee off until around 3PM Eastern. The early broadcast is on TNT, with the main coverage switching to CBS as the leaders get ready to tee off.
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