Notes: Tiger has work to do at PGA

Dustin Johnson during the second round of the PGA Championship.


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SHEBOYGAN, Wisc. – With the hole playing short, at 322 yards, it was agreed that players on the sixth green would stand aside and let those on the tee have a rip at it.

The safest haven, Chad Campbell and Ross Fisher presumed, was to the back of the green.

Seconds later, fans at the 92nd PGA Championship could have yelled, “Incoming,” after which Campbell and Fisher were seen laughing. The tee ball had soared through the warm Whistling Straits air to the tune of – are you ready? – approximately 338 yards, ripping over the heads of Campbell and Fisher.

“Welcome to my world,” said Bobby Brown.

Actually, it’s the world of Dustin Johnson, a one-man power plant who never ceases to amaze Brown, his friend and caddie.

“I’m just glad no one got hurt,” Brown said.

Johnson was equally grateful.

“I didn’t expect it to go that far,” he said. “It’s tough to judge how far the ball will go.”

Take this to the bank – when it comes off of Johnson’s club face it goes far. Very, very far.

Flying it 338 yards at the sixth is one example, but so was the 8 iron he hit at the 200 yard seventh. That one went long and left, “218 yards in the air,” Brown said.

Oh, and his ninth hole? No matter that the fairway at about 300 yards narrows to perhaps 20 yards, Johnson poured one down the gut, leaving himself just 79 yards to the hole. Work backward from the 442 yards that the hole measures and Johnson’s drive went 363.

“Nothing,” Brown said, “surprises me anymore.”

That means the fifth hole, too, a 595-yard par 5. Yesterday, Johnson hit driver, sand wedge for birdie; in Round 2, he hit driver, pitching wedge and made eagle.

Though Johnson didn’t quite take advantage of his power coming home – he made par at Nos. 6, 8, and 9, and bogeyed the seventh – he brought it home in 68 and at 5 under 139 is just three off the lead.

• • •

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Tiger Woods during the first round of the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

Slow starter: When Tiger Woods finished his round of 71 Thursday, he was T-13 and three back. When the first round was officially completed around lunch time Friday, Woods sat T-22, but four behind Matt Kuchar. The four-stroke deficit marks the closest Woods has been to the lead after a first round since his first tournament this year, the Masters. He trailed by two that week, but has consistently put himself far behind.

After the first round, Woods has also trailed by four at The Players Championship and the British Open. He sat five back at the U.S. Open, seven back at the Memorial and the AT & T National, nine at Quail Hollow, and a whopping 10 back last week at the Bridgestone Invitational.

• • •

Right, left, right: Shaun Micheel, the stunning 2003 winner of this championship, shot a second-round 69 to get halfway home in 2 under. His bogey-free round was protected in a wild, scrambling fashion when he missed the fairway right, had to lay up with a 9-iron to the left side of the fairway, then hit an 8-iron to 12 feet and made the putt. “I was looking at the cut number (after an opening 73),” Micheel said. Who pulled the 9-iron when he decided to lay up? “I did. When I’m mad I don’t take any time. I just grab it and go.”

• • •

Teacher’s order: While Sean Foley’s name has been thrown about this week because of the work he may or may not be doing with Tiger Woods, Pete Cowen has quietly gone about his duties with humility.

Simon Dyson, however, brought a little attention to his swing coach’s way.

“I worked on a little drill with Pete Cowen a couple of days ago and it has given me such a good feeling back,” Dyson said. “I am starting to get my little draw back with my driver, so all of a sudden I am hitting it 15, 20 yards further than I have been.”

Dyson shot his second straight 71 to sit 2 under and just six off the lead through 36.

• • •

This ‘n that: Only three players recorded bogey-free efforts in the first round: Ernie Els (68), Thongchai Jaidee (70), and Ryan Palmer (71). ... Ten players, meanwhile, went without a birdie in the first round, four of them (Ryan Benzel, Mark Sheftic, Chip Sullivan and Bruce Smith) being club pros. The others were Ross McGowan (73), Trevor Immelman (74), Bill Lunde (76), John Senden and Jason Bohn (77), and Ross Fisher (78). ... Of the 20 club pros, two of them opened with 1 under 71s – Tim Thelen and Mitch Lowe. ... The toughest holes to birdie in the first round were Nos. 4, 6, and 18 – but don’t tell that to Soren Kjeldsen or Jimmy Walker. Kjeldsen birdied both the fourth, a 493-yard par 4, and 15th, a 527-yard par 4; Walker birdied four and 18, a 494-yard par 4. ... Henrik Stenson went 80-75 to miss the cut and continue his ragged play. Dating back to last week’s Bridgestone Invitational, Stenson has played his last six rounds in 32 over par.

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