Tracker: McIlroy still leads PGA Championship
Saturday, August 9, 2014
If the question is, "Who can stop Rory McIlroy?" no clear answer emerged during Saturday's third round of the PGA Championship – but Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson proved they're capable of making it happen.
McIlroy started and ended Saturday with a one-shot lead, yet it was no walk in the park. There were several ties for the lead, as large as a five-way tie at one point, before McIlroy birdied the 18th to move to 13 under and pull away from Bernd Wiesberger. Fowler is third at 11 under, with Mickelson and Jason Day another shot back.
- Quick hits: McIlroy & Day's front nine via Instagram.
- Players react to Saturday's adjusted hole locations at Valhalla.
Recap the highlights from Louisville, Ky., right here – and be sure to scroll down for our previous coverage:
PHOTOS: 2014 PGA Championship, Saturday
Photos from the third round of the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla GC in Louisville, Ky.
• • •
Update No. 46: 7:14 p.m. EDT
Jason Day, from the same front greenside bunker where co-leader Rory McIlroy will end his day at the par-5 18th, hits it to about 3-4 feet for birdie. He rolls that one right in the front to end the day T-4 at 10 under alongside Phil Mickelson.
MCILROY TRACKER: McIlroy wedges this one up onto the green, about 5 feet left for par. He's away and makes it look easy. Birdie. Lead. Rory on the day: 4-under 67; leader at 13 under.
• • •
Update No. 45: 7:06 p.m. EDT
So depending on Jason Day's finish (he's in the front greenside bunker in two), Rickie Fowler is in position to start Sunday in solo third and Phil Mickelson in solo fourth. Ryan Palmer pars the 18th to head in at 9 under, T-5 after a 69.
MCILROY TRACKER: This tee shot is a streak to the middle of the fairway, in typical Rory McIlroy fashion of late, but it doesn't get much roll. Good position to go after birdie, though. He takes dead aim with his second shot and ends up in the front bunker.
• • •
Update No. 44: 6:55 p.m. EDT
So close, Rickie Fowler … so close. His eagle try is a really good roll, just nearing the left edge of the hole. He taps in for birdie and a 67 that gets him to 11 under, one off the lead as he heads in.
MCILROY TRACKER: Birdie seems a tall order here, but co-leader Rory McIlroy takes aim with a decent line and speed; it runs past on the high side, but not too far. His comebacker is good. Rory on the day: 3 under through 17; co-leader at 12 under.
• • •
Update No. 43: 6:51 p.m. EDT
No easy look here for Bernd Wiesberger at the 18th from just in front of the green – yet he nearly chips in for eagle as the ball stops just a few inches short of the cup. He taps in for birdie to reclaim a share of the lead at 12 under as he heads in to sign for a 65.
Phil Mickelson wraps up a 67 with a two-putt birdie and heads in T-3 at 10 under.
Rickie Fowler gets home in two at the 18th but the ball drifts off to the right and he faces a long eagle try up a slope.
MCILROY TRACKER: Co-leader again, Rory McIlroy hits his drive into the fairway bunker – nearly clearing it instead – and from there finds the middle of the green, short of the back pin.
• • •
Update No. 42: 6:41 p.m. EDT
Co-leader Bernd Wiesberger gets greenside in two at the par-5 18th, but will have a tricky pitch between him and a birdie attempt. Phil Mickelson is on the 18th green in two but looking at a long eagle try over a ridge.
MCILROY TRACKER: Pretty simple roll for Rory McIlroy here as he birdies and moves to 12 under, with Wiesberger needing up-and-down for birdie to keep pace. Rory on the day: 3 under through 16; leader at 12 under.
• • •
Update No. 41: 6:37 p.m. EDT
Co-leader Bernd Wiesberger hits a big drive down the left side of the par-5 18th. There have been a lot of birdies here today and he's got a chance at one too.
Rickie Fowler is short of the pin at the 17th and lags to about 2 feet or so, then cashes in for his seventh straight par to remain 10 under.
MCILROY TRACKER: A huge drive at the 16th to the left side of the fairway will let co-leader Rory McIlroy take aim at the bunker-guarded pin on this one, where a handful of players have given themselves easy birdie putts. He sticks it close, likely inside 2 feet.
• • •
Update No. 40: 6:23 p.m. EDT
At the 17th, Bernd Wiesberger hits his approach to inches and he'll tap in for his second straight birdie to move to 11 under.
Jason Day perhaps goes to school on Rory McIlroy's putt at the 15th (more on that to come) and narrowly misses keeping pace; he taps in to remain 10 under.
Rickie Fowler hits it pin high and inside 10 feet at the 16th for a good look at birdie. It just misses on the low side and he, too, remains 10 under.
Henrik Stenson birdies the 18th to wrap up a 67 that pulls him within a shot of the lead at 9 under as he heads in.
MCILROY TRACKER: Fairway here for co-leader Rory McIlroy as he has birdied this 15th hole twice in as many passes this week. He then finds the green, short and left of the pin. But he steps up and rolls in the putt, just moments after Wiesberger's unlikely shot, to maintain a share of the lead. Rory on the day: 2 under through 15; co-leader at 11 under.
• • •
Update No. 39: 6:12 p.m. EDT
Co-leader Rickie Fowler has the speed right on his birdie try at the 15th, but it stays out and he remains 10 under.
Bernd Wiesberger hits it really close at the 16th and taps in for birdie to move into a share of the lead as well.
Phil Mickelson gets to 9 under with his third straight birdie – pulling within a shot of the lead at T-6.
MCILROY TRACKER: At the par-3 14th, co-leader Rory McIlroy pulls one into the left-side bunker. He wedges that one to about 3 feet or so. Putt goes in the left side and he's still among those in the lead. Rory on the day: 1 under through 14; co-leader at 10 under.
• • •
Update No. 39: 6:03 p.m. EDT
Jason Day jumps into a share of the lead again with a birdie at the 13th after hitting his approach inside 10 feet and making the putt to move to 10 under.
Good tee shot at the par-3 14th is nearly pin high and somewhat left, as co-leader Rickie Fowler takes aim at birdies for the outright lead. The putt skirts the right edge, too firm and too far past, probably 4 feet; he makes the comebacker to remain 10 under.
Co-leader Ryan Palmer pars the 13th in textbook fashion.
From the left rough at the par-4 15th, Phil Mickelson hits it to about 3 feet. The birdie gets him back to 8 under, good for T-9.
MCILROY TRACKER: Big drive down the middle here, which might help right his ship tee-to-green. Solid wedge to about 10 feet has him birdie hunting again in the wake of several scrambles. He's got a very good line on this and the speed feels right, but it lips out just barely and he taps in for par. Rory on the day: 1 under through 13; co-leader at 10 under.
• • •
Update No. 38: 5:49 p.m. EDT
After back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 11-12, Phil Mickelson gets a shot back with a birdie at the 14th to return to 7 under.
MCILROY TRACKER: Missed fairway, missed green for Rory McIlroy at the 12th and this one leaves him very little green to work with. He comes up short of the green by a couple of feet. His fourth shot is on the money, about a foot short and right, and he taps in for a bogey that drops him into a three-way tie for the lead with Rickie Fowler and Ryan Palmer. Rory on the day: 1 under through 12; co-leader at 10 under.
• • •
Update No. 37: 5:34 p.m. EDT
Another par for Rickie Fowler, this time at the 12th as he remains 10 under.
MCILROY TRACKER: Leader Rory McIlroy is off the mark with another approach shot, this time at the par-3 11th as he's well left and in the rough. He pitches up the slope to about 3 feet and sinks the putt. Rory on the day: 2 under through 11; leader at 11 under.
• • •
Update No. 36: 5:26 p.m. EDT
Jason Day turns what could have been a costly miss into a no-big-deal thing at the par-5 10th, wedging his way out of short-sided trouble to makeable-par-putt range. The putt, instead, proves costly – lipping out as he drops to 8 under and T-6.
Ryan Palmer moves to T-2 alongside Rickie Fowler at 10 under with a birdie at the 11th.
MCILROY TRACKER: Just more than 10 feet here for birdie, and the lay-up pays off for Rory McIlroy as he reclaims the outright lead by making the putt. Rory on the day: 2 under through 10; leader at 11 under.
• • •
Update No. 35: 5:20 p.m. EDT
Phil Mickelson bogeys the par-3 11th after missing the green and slips to T-10 at 7 under, still under par for the day.
Rickie Fowler pars the 11th to remain 10 under and tied for the lead with Rory McIlroy.
MCILROY TRACKER: McIlroy finds the right edge of the fairway at the par-5 10th, then lays up with his second shot. He then wedges it within birdie range of the back-right pin.
• • •
Update No. 34: 5:07 p.m. EDT
Jason Day has a chance to keep pace with Rickie Fowler, but Day's birdie putt at the ninth lips out and he taps in for par to instead remain a shot off the lead at 9 under.
MCILROY TRACKER: Good pitch here by Rory McIlroy to about 5 feet as he needs an up-and-down to keep a share of the lead. The putt is on the money as he scrambles beautifully. Rory on the day: 1 under through nine; co-leader at 10 under.
• • •
Update No. 33: 5:04 p.m. EDT
What a putt by Rickie Fowler at the 10th as he birdies the par 5 to move to 10 under and tie for the lead. This is where Fowler said he wants to be.
MCILROY TRACKER: A little wildness coming into play for co-leader Rory McIlroy now, as he finds the left rough off the ninth tee. Standing in a bunker to hit his second shot, McIlroy flies it long and right of the green.
• • •
Update No. 32: 4:53 p.m. EDT
Mikko Ilonen and Bernd Wiesberger birdie the ninth to move to T-5 at 8 under.
MCILROY TRACKER: Rory McIlroy comes up a bit short at the par-3 eighth, then stubs his chip from the rough. He misses the par putt and gives a shot back. Rory on the day: 1 under through eight; leader at 10 under.
• • •
Update No. 31: 4:41 p.m. EDT
Phil Mickelson takes aim at a birdie putt on No. 9 and nearly has the line, but it slides past on the high side and he'll settle for par to remain T-6 at 8 under.
MCILROY TRACKER: Greenside in two, Rory McIlroy is in the fairway cut back right at the par-5 seventh. He wedges it inside 5 feet, no problem. Jason Day's missed birdie try perhaps shows him the line and he drills it home to move out front by two shots. Rory on the day: 2 under through seven; leader at 11 under.
• • •
Update No. 30: 4:35 p.m. EDT
Henrik Stenson moves to 8 under and T-5 with a birdie at the 10th hole.
MCILROY TRACKER: Leader Rory McIlroy takes the short route at the split-fairway, par-5 seventh hole and has no trouble finding the short grass. But the green eludes him as he misses right.
• • •
Update No. 29: 4:23 p.m. EDT
Adam Scott birdies the 18th, a familiar theme today, to move to 7 under and T-7 as he heads in with a 66.
Rickie Fowler misses the green in two at the par-5 seventh, but a sand-save birdie moves him to 9 under and one back of the lead.
Jason Day is errant off the tee again and can't get up and down for par, tapping in for bogey to drop to T-2 at 9 under alongside Fowler and Jim Furyk.
MCILROY TRACKER: What a putt from about 25 feet, but it stops just on the front lip. The gentlest tap-in par you could ask for. Rory on the day: 1 under through six; leader at 10 under.
• • •
Update No. 28: 4:17 p.m. EDT
Phil Mickelson takes the risky route at the split-fairway, par-5 seventh hole and is rewarded when he gets home in two for a strong look at eagle. His putt comes up short but he taps in to move to 8 under, T-4 with Rickie Fowler and Ryan Palmer.
MCILROY TRACKER: Co-leader Rory McIlroy is true with his drive at the sixth, then pin-high with his approach but well left of the hole.
• • •
Update No. 27: 4:08 p.m. EDT
Ryan Palmer's first birdie of the day comes at No. 5 and lifts him to 8 under, one back of co-leaders Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Jim Furyk. He's tied for second with Rickie Fowler. Great leaderboard.
Day by the way, finds the edge of the fairway at the fifth and hits it pin high but left, well within birdie range. Indeed, he makes it and moves to 10 under.
MCILROY TRACKER: McIlroy's drive at the fifth gets him back on track, finding the left center of the fairway. His approach is then just long and right of the pin and he's got another birdie putt that is plenty makeable. He converts and pulls away from Furyk as well. Rory on the day: 1 under through five; co-leader at 10 under.
• • •
Update No. 26: 3:56 p.m. EDT
Jason Day drives the fourth green for a chance at eagle; he two-putts for birdie and, as Jim Furyk just did, moves into a share of the lead at 9 under with Rory McIlroy.
Furyk narrowly misses a birdie putt at the fifth and settles for par to remain 9 under.
MCILROY TRACKER: Forced to take a drop after hitting it into the water, McIlroy faces a tough challenge to get up and down and maintain a share of the lead after that big miss left at the short, par-4 fourth. A good pitch shot from the drop zone gets him to about 10 feet. The putt looks good all the way and it falls. Rory on the day: Even par through four.
• • •
Update No. 25: 3:47 p.m. EDT
Here comes Jim Furyk, his drive at the fourth finding the greenside bunker and the sand save giving him a birdie to climb into a share of the lead at 9 under.
MCILROY TRACKER: McIlroy finds trouble, missing left while taking a crack a driving that fourth green.
• • •
Update No. 25: 3:42 p.m. EDT
Hunter Mahan, by the way, birdied the 18th to wrap up a 6-under 65 that got him to 7 under, good for T-5 as things stand. The Oklahoma State product earned attention last year with a T-4 at the U.S. Open at Merion and a T-9 at the Open Championship, but hasn't fared as well in his last four majors: T-57 at Oak Hill, T-26 at Augusta, MC at Pinehurst and T-32 at Royal Liverpool.
MCILROY TRACKER: Leader Rory McIlroy goes pinseeking at the par-3 third hole, finding the back-left of the green and setting up another decent look at birdie. He just misses and taps in for par. Rory on the day: Even par through three.
• • •
Update No. 24: 3:34 p.m. EDT
Rickie Fowler hits one to about 5 feet at the par-3 third hole and gets the birdie putt to fall, moving to T-2 at 8 under, one off the lead.
Phil Mickelson gives it a go at the fourth hole, where the tee is up and the par 4's green is drivable. He misses the mark with his tee shot, but saves himself from the rough with a solid wedge shot over a bunker and makes the birdie putt to rise to T-5 at 7 under.
Jason Day finds trouble at the second hole, missing badly left with his drive and playing out of the marsh to set up his third shot – which he hits to inside 10 feet. He makes the putt to stay within a shot of the lead.
MCILROY TRACKER: Leader Rory McIlroy avoids Day's mishaps, with a fairway-green-two putt par. Rory on the day: Even par through two.
• • •
Update No. 23: 3:12 p.m. EDT
Phil Mickelson finds the green at the par-3 third hole but leaves a long birdie putt that he lags fairly close; he raps in the comebacker for a par to remain T-8 at 6 under, even for the day.
MCILROY TRACKER: From below the hole, Rory McIlroy misses out on a birdie effort and cleans up. Rory on the day: Even par.
• • •
Update No. 22: 3:08 p.m. EDT
Brandt Snedeker finishes with a birdie for a 5-under 66 that lifts him to T-9 at 6 under as he heads in.
MCILROY TRACKER: About 125 left here, and he finds the line to the pin but is a little short. Birdie range, though.
• • •
Update No. 21: 3:04 p.m. EDT
Lee Westwood shakes off his rough finish yesterday with an eagle at No. 4 that came within about a foot of being an albatross. He's T-4 at 7 under, two shots back of leader Rory McIlroy – who starts the day with a big drive.
MCILROY TRACKER: With his first swing, leader Rory McIlroy cuts the corner and finds the left-center of the fairway.
• • •
Update No. 20: 2:41 p.m. EDT
How "gettable" is Valhalla in today's soft conditions? You have to scroll down to T-29 on the leaderboard to find the top player over par for his Saturday round, and on to T-50 to find another.
Phil Mickelson starts his day with a drive down the middle of the first fairway, picking up where he left off after Friday's 67. He goes on to make par.
• • •
Update No. 19: 2:26 p.m. EDT
Bubba Watson sees a difficult day come to an end with a tee ball in the water at the 18th, but he manages a par for a 2-over 73 that drops him to T-69 at 2 over. Watson's temper Friday has been attracting attention.
Hunter Mahan hits a tree branch above the 15th green with his approach and the ball falls into a great spot for a birdie putt – which he makes to rise to 6 under and T-7.
We're about a half hour from Rory McIlroy's tee time, by the way.
• • •
Update No. 18: 2:14 p.m. EDT
Charl Schwartzel has things going his way, with four birdies in his last seven holes as he climbs to T-7 at 6 under.
• • •
Update No. 17: 2:01 p.m. EDT
After five straight pars, Danny Willett birdies No. 10 to climb to T-7 at 6 under. The Englishman, No. 99 in OWGR, missed the cut at the Open Championship and finished T-45 at the U.S. Open.
• • •
Update No. 16: 1:47 p.m. EDT
Brooks Koepka, by the way, ended his productive third round with a hiccup as bogey sent him in with a 66, T-10 at 5 under.
• • •
Update No. 15: 1:39 p.m. EDT
Sergio Garcia has heated up on the back nine with birdies at Nos. 10, 11 and 14 lifting him to T-9 at 5 under after starting the day at even par through 36 holes.
• • •
Update No. 14: 1:18 p.m. EDT
You know it's cloudy if Adam Scott isn't wearing his sunglasses. (OK, they're on the back of his hat.) It's the right call as he birdies Nos. 2, 4 and 5 to climb to T-10 at 5 under.
Justin Rose ends his day with a birdie to head in T-20 at 4 under after a 67. That's 33 spots gained on "moving day" as things stand – not a bad day's work.
• • •
Update No. 13: 1:10 p.m. EDT
After a bogey at No. 15, back-to-back birdies at Nos. 16-17 get Brooks Koepka to T-7 at 6 under. The Florida State product earned special temporary status on PGA Tour in April.
PHOTOS: Fashion, 2014 PGA Championship (Sat.)
Apparel from the third round of the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky.
• • •
Update No. 12: 12:51 p.m. EDT
Thorbjorn Olesen is making a hard charge since his bogey at the first. He birdied No. 4 to get back to even par for the day and the week – and has run off five straight birdies to surge to T-9 at 5 under. The Dane has yet to win on PGA Tour and finished T-44 at this year's Masters, T-64 at the Open Championship.
• • •
Update No. 11: 12:47 p.m. EDT
Justin Rose's short-game troubles continue as he misses the 16th green and again needs a chip and three putts to get in the hole. His second straight bogey drops him to T-20 at 3 under.
• • •
Update No. 10: 12:35 p.m. EDT
Justin Rose suffers his first bogey of the day at No. 15 after a chip and three putts; he drops to T-18 at 4 under.
Brooks Koepka replaces Rose at 5 under for the day and the week, thanks to back-to-back birdies at Nos. 13-14.
• • •
Update No. 9: 12:16 p.m. EDT
The tee is up at the par-4 fourth hole and a couple of players take advantage at once – Danny Willett chipping in for eagle and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano putting for one. Willett is T-9 at 5 under, 4 under today; Fernandez-Castano is T-33 at 2 under, 1 under today.
• • •
Update No. 8: 12:07 p.m. EDT
Justin Rose has it together today – he birdies No. 13 to get to T-9 at 5 under. Hunting for his second major, perhaps?
• • •
Update No. 7: 11:46 a.m. EDT
Seventeen players who have completed at least one hole today are under par, compared to 11 who are over par. This despite revised hole locations that seek to keep things tough while greens are soft.
• • •
Update No. 6: 11:35 a.m. EDT
At No. 9, Brooks Koepka makes a third straight birdie to move to T-18 at 3 under. Only Justin Rose is doing better today, at 4 under through 10 holes.
• • •
Update No. 5: 11:24 a.m. EDT
Brooks Koepka's first two birdies of the day were followed by bogeys, but the third time's the charm as he follows that one with another birdie to get to 2 under for the day and the week.
• • •
Update No. 4: 11:09 a.m. EDT
2013 U.S. Open champ Justin Rose, who won the Quicken Loans National in June, birdies again at No. 7 to get to 4 under for the day and the week, five back of leader Rory McIlroy. He pars twice more before making the turn.
PHOTOS: Valhalla hole-by-hole, 2014 PGA Championship
The Jack Nicklaus-designed Valhalla Golf Club, par 71 and 7,458 yards, earns a whopping 77.6 rating and a slope of 152 from the club's back tees -- and if this week's PGA Championship tees were measured, both the rating and slope would be higher. See all 18 holes here!
• • •
Update No. 3: 10:42 a.m. EDT
Sergio Garcia starts his day with a birdie to rise to T-41 at 1 under. If the Spaniard is to again battle Rory McIlroy, he'll need a lot more.
• • •
Update No. 2: 10:31 a.m. EDT
Zach Johnson, working toward a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, birdies No. 2 and follows with a par. He's T-41 at 1 under.
• • •
Update No. 1: 10:26 a.m. EDT
Graeme McDowell birdies No. 8 to get his round to 2 under, moving to T-41 at 1 under.
• • •
Hideki Matsuyama is making the most of the eagle putt that got him inside the cutline, with birdies at Nos. 1, 3 and 4 as he's 3 under through six holes to get to T-27 at 2 under. Justin Rose also is 3 under today, through five holes to get to T-17 at 3 under for the week.
• • •
It's "very wet … it is ugly," says one of our intrepid reporters in Louisville – accuweather.com says the chance of rain for the day is 60 percent, so hopefully the course can take the water hitting it now and things will clear up as they did Friday. Winds aren't expected to be extreme despite the precipitation.
• • •
If Tiger Woods is the man bringing great drama to big golf tournaments these days, then credit Rory McIlroy as the man who busily has been extracting it. If it’s an exciting major championship finish you yearn for, well, you might consider asking McIlroy to stay home. He is golf’s speeding train, and the rest of his peers simply are having a difficult time just staying on the same track. At the 96th PGA Championship on a soft and soggy Valhalla Golf Club track, he's threatening – again – to just run away.
There was Jack vs. Arnie. And then there was Tiger vs. Phil … and Vijay … and Duval … On a soggy Friday afternoon in Kentucky, we might have had a glimpse of the next duel on the docket – especially if Rickie Fowler has anything to say about it. Rickie vs. Rory. It has a bit of a ring to it, although the track record isn't quite there for half of that match-up. But Fowler has been working hard on joining the victory train that McIlroy seems to be on.
For a while Friday at the PGA Championship, watching Tiger Woods felt like viewing a funeral procession. As he went 4 over on the first seven holes, his game and body hardly seemed alive and his mood was stuck on somber. At other times, it seemed as if we were observing an aging, beat-up heavyweight boxing champion. Pick your analogy, especially after he hit wild hooks on Nos. 6-7 at Valhalla Golf Club and made double bogey and bogey.
PHOTOS: 2014 PGA Championship, Friday
Photos from the second round of the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.
Phil Mickelson will go into the weekend at the 96th PGA Championship possessing something he has not had in any of this year’s previous three majors: a fighting chance to win. As darkness descended on a long and mostly gray day, Mickelson punctuated his round with a dramatic closing eagle – set up by a 4-iron from 216 yards to 9 feet – that electrified a huge crowd that covered the hills and had weathered a challenging day to watch. It put a ribbon around a second-round 67 for Mickelson.
There are still two rounds to be played before the book can be closed on the 2014 major championship season, but one thing can definitively be said: Thirteen players can lay claim to having made the cut in each of the four stops. Talk about cream rising to the top; three of those names – Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Jim Furyk – are sitting atop the leaderboard at the 96th PGA Championship, and another, Rickie Fowler is in a share of fourth.
Tom Watson and his potential first nine charges have only two rounds left to earn enough points to play on the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team. At the start of the week the top nine on the points list were Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson. Of the remaining seven players who didn't withdraw with an injury, all but Spieth made the cut Friday and will play on the weekend.
It definitely wasn't the front nine that Tiger Woods needed in order to play the weekend at the 96th PGA Championship, making the turn with a 4-over 39 to put himself at 7 over for the tournament. That didn't keep the crowds from coming out to cheer him on – as well as Phil Mickelson, who was 2 under on his round through 15 holes. Here is a look at the first eight holes through Instagram.
Steve Stricker was named an assistant captain on Tom Watson's U.S. squad for next month's Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, but after a 3-under 68, Stricker might just make the squad. So was Watson premature in naming the Wisconsin native as a coach now? Here are some news and notes from second-round action at Valhalla.
Golf championships sometimes wait for no man and so a request for a brief reprieve was politely rejected. “We asked the referee (if we could wait). It was borderline dark. You couldn’t see the flight of the ball after 150 yards,” Shane Lowry said as he and Ryan Palmer (and club professional Bob Sowards) stood on the first tee of Valhalla Golf Club. “He said, ‘No, play on.’ " And so they did.
The skid continues. For the third consecutive year, no club professional made the cut at the PGA Championship. “It’s a nice bonus that the PGA of America gives its members if you can finish in the top 20 (at the Professional National Championship),” said Dave Tentis, the head professional at Troy Burne Golf Club in Hudson, Wis., who posted rounds of 79-79. “It would be nice if I was a little more competitive.”
PHOTOS: Fashion, 2014 PGA Championship (Fri.)
Apparel from the second round of the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky.
Lee Westwood, surely somewhere in the conversation for the ignominious honor of "best to never win a major," began Friday at the PGA Championship among three co-leaders ahead by a shot before red-hot Rory McIlroy passed them in the afternoon. McIlroy's morning 67 got him into the lead at 9 under. Recap the highlights here!
• • •
If he isn’t quite the Alfred E. Neuman of the professional golf world, Lee Westwood is close. His back's to the wall. He missed the cut in the summer Opens on each side of the pond. He’s rumored not to be held in strong favor by European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, probably to the end of his run of eight straight Ryder Cup appearances. Theories, suspicions, ungrounded talk. None of which fazes Westwood, who Thursday moved to a share of the PGA Championship lead in seeking his first major victory.
Rory McIlroy has been called The Ultimate Driving Machine, a word play off the slick BMW sports car ads, and the moniker fits considering the Northern Irishman's immense power and pinpoint precision off the tee. But if you want to compare the man to a vehicle, here’s the thing to know: These days, he handles incredibly well, too. Thursday at Valhalla, McIlroy took on the sharp corner of his opening round at the 96th PGA Championship with the skill of a Formula One racer.
This is a two-way miss. Driver, about 50 yards left and into a hazard on No. 1. Three-wood, about 50 yards left and into a hazard on No. 2. Driver, about 50 yards right and over a green fence and into the Samsung Phone Zone on No. 7. Tiger Woods might have wanted to become a Navy SEAL at one point. But Thursday in the PGA Championship first round, he played some Army golf.
There was plenty of red to go around Thursday at the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla, with 52 players finishing under par while a few stars were seeing red due to poor rounds in ideal conditions. Lee Westwood, Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer finished 18 holes tied for the lead after 6-under 65s, while Jim Furyk, Rory McIlroy, Chris Wood, Henrik Stenson and Edoardo Molinari are a stroke back. There are 32 players four shots back or less. From Tiger Woods' dismal 74 to Phil Mickelson's 69, here are 5 Things to know.
As if the 214-yard drive that went dead left at the first hole weren’t a giveaway, the sloppy three-putt from 30 feet at Valhalla Golf Club's sixth hole spoke volumes for the state of his game. Finally, when Jason Dufner was able to only drive it 254 yards at the par-5 10th – this being where 300-yard blasts were routine – common sense prevailed. “I’m not competitive,” Dufner said. “I can only do more damage.”
Kevin Chappell didn't mince words Thursday afternoon: This season hasn't been all that great. Yes, he's earned a shade under $1 million for the season. But he's only recorded a single top 10, and that was 10th at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at the end of May. So, needless to say, his bogey-free, 6-under 65 that left Chappell tied for the clubhouse lead at the PGA Championship came out of nowhere.
Though Oak Hill and Valhalla may be worlds apart in terms of the exam each presents, the opening day of the 96th PGA Championship had at least one similarity to the 95th edition: veteran Jim Furyk had injected himself into the mix.
Coming into 2014, Rickie Fowler had missed more cuts (three) than he had top-10 finishes (two) in major championships. Then Butch Harmon happened. Then the maturation of Rickie Fowler happened – with three top-5 finishes in the year's first three majors. His stellar play didn't stop on Thursday at the 96th PGA Championship, firing a 2-under 69.
The 96th PGA Championship offers the largest purse of the four majors, with the winner going home with $1.8 million. Here is a breakdown of what each place will receive on Sunday at Valhalla: 1st: $1,800,000; 2nd: $1,080,000; 3rd: $680,000 …
• • •
Upbeat about his famous back, Tiger Woods showed up Wednesday at Valhalla and declared himself ready to play in the 96th PGA Championship, which begins Thursday.
Sergio Garcia has played alongside Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in major championships and offers up his perspective on how they are different.
The 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club will move to July 28-31 to accommodate the 2016 Summer Olympics, which will begin August 5 in Rio de Janeiro.
Bubba Watson built a brand around Bubba Golf, a fun-loving, fun-first way to play the game. On Tuesday at Valhalla, he lost sight of that brand in refusing to partake in the long-drive competition.
A 62 to cap last week's efforts seemed to do a world of difference for Phil Mickelson -- whose psyche is in a different place at the PGA Championship than it has been on PGA Tour this year.
Golfweek.com readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.