Wind makes for a tough day
Four players from the last U.S. Ryder Cup team. Five players from the top 50 in the world ranking.
None of them could break 80 on Friday at the PGA Championship.
The wind arrived on The Ocean Course and blew away some of the best players in the world, along with the club pros. Doug Wade of Dayton, Ohio, made bogey on his last hole for a 93, one short of the worst score in PGA Championship history. The record was in jeopardy late in the second round with Michael Frye at 19 over with four holes remaining.
There was nothing to be ashamed of on this day, not in these conditions.
''This wasn't your normal day of golf,'' Rickie Fowler said after an 80.
It was the third time in his last 15 rounds that Fowler had a round in the 80s, only this one was different. He felt as though he played pretty well, except for a bad swing that led to double bogey on No. 6, and a drop-kick drive into a hazard and two chips up the slope on the seventh green for a triple bogey.
Give him pars on those holes and he would have had a 75, which Adam Scott felt was par for the course.
Scott shot 75. He was happy with that.
''It's very tough,'' Scott said. ''I think I played pretty well. I mean, I could have saved a couple shots, maybe. But it's very easy to let shots slip on this golf course. So I consider 75 kind of a par round of golf out there today. I did a lot of good things.''
There just weren't many scores.
Flags were rippling when players arrived just after dawn to start warming up, and it never stopped. The 447-yard 10th hole was a driver and a 9-iron for the big hitters, if they caught the mound and got extra roll down the hill. Phil Mickelson didn't come close to those mounds. And he hit a 4-iron, one of the prettiest shots of the day that covered the back left flag and landed 2 feet away.
All day, it never stopped.
The greens are elevated, so the ball has to be played in the air. And the wind, gusting to 30 mph, came out of the southeast to create a crosswind on virtually every hole. Even holes with the wind at the back made it tough to play because the shots didn't stay on the green. Matt Kuchar found that out on the par-3 14th. He had about 210 yards to a ridge in the middle of the green, and it landed on that ridge and rolled another 25 paces off the back of the green.
Kuchar, who won The Players Championship in May, shot an 82.
Fowler and Mahan were hopeful of making the Ryder Cup team this week - the PGA Championship is the final qualifying event and offers double points. Both shot an 80 and will have to rely on being a captain's pick in three weeks.
Jeff Overton was on the Ryder Cup team with them in Wales in 2010. He shot 81. Nick Watney had an 82.
It was a long list. It was a long day.
''Well, it wasn't stress-free, I can tell you that,'' said Padraig Harrington, an Irishman who knows a little about the wind. He didn't think it was all that bad, although there was that moment on the 188-yard fifth hole when a squall came in and wreaked havoc on his group.
Davis Love III hit 3-iron that came up some 30 yards short of the green. Mickelson hammered a 4-iron. He said if he had the same shot 10 minutes earlier, it would have been a 6-iron. Harrington wasn't sure what to do. His caddie suggested a 5-wood.
''My pride wouldn't let me,'' Harrington said.
That's what made the 69 by Vijay Singh so exquisite. He was the only player from the morning session to break 70, and one of only three players to managed to break par. Mickelson and Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland each had 71.
Singh wasn't thinking about a score. He was thinking survival.
''If you had a golf course like this and you asked me to go and play golf in windy conditions, I'd say, 'No, I'm not going to play.' I guess nobody is going to go out and play in conditions like this,'' he said. ''But it's a major, and we have to go out there and just struggle and manage yourself the best you can.''
He managed just fine. Others? Not so much.
From the morning group of 78 players, there were 16 rounds in the 80s (including Wade and his 93).
There were 45 rounds under par after the opening round, when half the field played in relatively calm conditions. By late Friday afternoon, only 16 players remained under par, a number that was sure to shrink.
''It was a tough set-up on a calm day, and with a 30 mile--an-hour wind across this course, you've got a serious test of golf on your hands,'' said Graeme McDowell, who had a 76. ''A 75 of below is a decent score out there. I really believe that. Vijay's 69, that's a serious score. That's a serious score.''
Blake Adams, a contender at the U.S. Open, had a 72 and was at 1-under 143. His only hope as he headed off the course? Let it blow.
''I hope it pumps the next few hours, because it was pumping at 9:10 this morning,'' Adams said. ''I wore out the grooves in my 4-iron all day, which was not how I kind of planned on playing around this golf course.''
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