SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – As a club pro, Tim Thelen knows plenty about running shotgun starts. He jokes that he was “17B” in this morning’s resumption of the PGA Championship’s first round.
That’s not an ideal place to start, especially when you’re a club pro contending at a major championship. Thelen started Friday’s play 2-under par, two shots off the overnight lead.
The 210-yard, par-3 17th is playing as the fourth-most difficult hole at Whistling Straits. Thelen had to wait on the tee about 10 minutes and watch the group ahead of him struggle with the long tee shot that’s flanked on the left by Lake Michigan.
“It’s one of the most intimidating holes out here,” Thelen said. “I saw Jimmy Walker just before me hit it in the junk. … That’s the way the ball bounces, and that’s where I had to start, so I was prepared to hit the shot.”
Thelen wasn’t fazed, though. He hit 3-iron to 25 feet and two-putted for par. A bogey on No. 18 gave him a 71. It was Thelen’s first sub-par round in the PGA Championship. He’s played this event eight times previously, but never made the cut. He finished 12th at the ’01 B.C. Open on the PGA Tour, though.
Barring delays, Thelen was scheduled to have just 40 minutes between the conclusion of his first round and start of his second.
Thelen’s 71 tied him with Tiger Woods. Not bad for a 49-year-old with a day job. “I get to play twice a week, whether I like to or not,” said Thelen, an assistant pro at The Falls Golf and Country Club in New Ulm, Texas. “I play golf Mondays and Fridays with the members, and that’s pretty much the extent of my playing.”
Thelen, a teammate of Colin Montgomerie at Houston Baptist, won the ’00 and ’03 PGA Professional National Championships. He finished 11th in this year’s championship to earn a spot at Whistling Straits.