Two days have been completed at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but good luck trying to figure out what’s going on. Other than the fact that ski hats and hand warmers have gone in golf bags ahead of the drivers and putters.
It’s already a bizarre tournament, with a multitude of storylines. Here are but five to consider:
1.) Play on . . . and on, and on . . .
So you think the Chicago (Oct. 9) and New York (Nov. 6) marathons are squeezed tight?
How about the Honolulu and Scottsdale golfathons?
Officially known as the Sony Open in Hawaii and the WMPO, these PGA Tour stops have offered up similar stories just three weeks apart: Start slow, jam up, then scramble like a young Seve Ballesteros to get things done.
Now, Honolulu and Scottsdale may be havens for sunshine and warmth most of the year, but not in 2011 – at least not when the PGA Tour has been in town. Heavy rain KO’d the Sony pro-am Wednesday and forced a late start to Thursday’s first round, which made necessary a 36-hole Sunday. Same story, different reason in Scottsdale, with unprecedented cold leaving TPC Scottsdale too frozen for Wednesday’s pro-am, then forcing a midday start to Thursday’s first round.
That, in turn, has created a logjam so that as Friday draws to a close, the picture isn’t close to being in focus. While some players have finished 36 holes, others are in the middle of their second round, while still others have played just 18 holes.
And with another frost delay expected Saturday (and possibly Sunday), here it is folks: “We’ll go and finish up on Monday,” said Mike McQuaid, tournament chairman.
2) Hey, remember us?
By sunset Thursday, Tom Gillis, Bill Haas, Tom Lehman, and Jason Bohn had to be feeling pretty good about themselves. Each man had shot 6-under 65 to share the lead . . . er, the clubhouse lead.
Anyway, all these men did was have dinner, sleep, have breakfast, have lunch, then prepare to go to dinner again, never hitting a golf shot, and what in the name of Ky Laffoon happens? These so-called leaders look up and see they’re now trailing by five shots.
Imagine, going from T-1 to T-10 simply by eating and sleeping. Crazy game, eh?
Of course, while those at 11 under (Mark Wilson and Tommy Gainey) won’t have many holes to play Saturday morning to finish Round 2, Gillis, Haas, Lehman, Bohn and others from the Thursday wave will have quite a few to play.
Which means it all evens out in the end?
Well, that’s the hope.
3) Black gloves could be the secret
• Read Jeff Babineau’s 2008 profile of WMPO leader Tommy Gainey by clicking here.
Beyond his immense power, J.B. Holmes is known for wearing a black golf glove. OK, so it goes against the grain, for most players wear a white glove, but it’s served him well, especially at TPC Scottsdale, where he’s won twice.
Now comes a guy with not one, but two black gloves – Tommy Gainey. (Yes, his nickname is “Two Gloves.”)
Gainey played two holes late Thursday, then completed Round 1 with eight birdies in 16 holes to shoot 63. With enough time for a chicken sandwich and a Coke, Gainey then went to the back nine, shot 33, and pushed to 11 under, tied with Mark Wilson.
And, no, he did not mind rushing into his second round.
“I was swinging at it good,” Gainey said. “I was ready to get back out there.”
4) At least one player can head home
Chad Collins might be the only player to have found normalcy to the tournament. That’s because after two days and 36 holes, he knows he can go home.
One of only six players to complete 36 holes, Collins shot 73-74 and at 5 over he knows he’s missed the cut.
Marc Leishman (67-69) is at the other end of the spectrum; at 6 under he has breezed into “weekend play,” whenever that will be.
But for the others, it’s wait and see. Matt Jones is at 1 under, while Ben Curtis, Garrett Willis and Shaun Micheel are all at level par. Most likely, it will take 2 or 3 under to make the cut, but why take the chance? Besides, the Crow’s Nest will be hopping.
5) Good guys don’t always finish last
Mark Wilson is proof of that. In this age of bomb it and wedge it, it’s truly refreshing to see a precision player succeed.
The fact that he’s a humble guy with his golf shoes squarely on the ground makes it even better.
Wilson had finished solidly for three straight years on Tour (inside the top 60 on the money list) before stumbling in 2010. Thus did he see it as imperative that he get off to a good start in 2011 and you’d have to say mission accomplished.
Having already won one marathon (the Sony), Wilson is threatening to chalk up another.
Who does he think he is, Bill Rodgers?