Inside the Ropes: Rain forges different rhythm at Kiawah
Practice, play, rain, practice, play: That was the rhythm at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course on the final day of practice for the 94th PGA Championship.
A storm system that moved through around lunchtime dumped about an inch of rain and kept players off the course for nearly two hours on Wednesday.
While players worked hard to get a feel for the course, they also need to prepare for the potential disruption of waiting out daily storms that have a 40 percent chance of moving through the area this weekend.
The 17th hole, a diabolical 223-yard par 3, attracted lots of attention Wednesday from Padraig Harrington, Y.E. Yang, Ryo Ishikawa, Kevin Na, and senior PGA champion Roger Chapman to name a few. Tee shots have to cut diagonally across the massive pond (or small lake) and hit a narrow green guarded by sandy areas.
Harrington spent time in the sandy area, located about even with the middle of the green, trying to land the ball softly so it wouldn’t trundle into the water. Ishikawa hit out of the same place, but was aiming for the back of the long green.
A senior player from Blaine, Wash., Jeff Coston, entertained the folks around 17 by hitting shots from the sand and then exhorting the crowd to react. Coston, a teaching pro at Semiahoo Golf Resort, took his time getting to the 18th tee by signing dozens of autographs.
When the weather broke in the afternoon, the breeze, which had not been much of a factor during the cloudy weather, was quartering into the players from the right on their tee shots on both 17 and 18. Tee shots on 18 which had been reaching 300 yards were stretching to hit 280.
Coston wasn’t the only one working for the fans on Wednesday. After finishing his round with Gary Woodland and Davis Love, Tiger Woods signed autographs for kids who were on the ropes, but the crush of fans made that spot rather intimidating.
For the players though, the real intimidation begins Thursday.
Mark Matlock is a freelance writer living in Greenville, S.C. He'll be contributing columns throughout the week to take Golfweek readers inside the ropes at Kiawah Island.