Tag:pga thursday
Posted on: August 11, 2011 7:31 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 7:33 pm

McIlroy injures arm, but avoids rules twist

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- Would this have been adding insult to injury, or injury to insult?

Two hours after sustaining a painful wrist injury that required on-course medical attention, Rory McIlroy had a conversation with a trainer before a shot that resulted in an inquiry into whether he violated a rule at the 93rd PGA Championship.

Early in the day, the reigning U.S. Open champion hit a risky shot while his ball was resting against a tree root on the third hole, his hands flying off the club, which spun through the air on his follow-through as he let go of the grip. Because of the impact of his club against the root, McIlroy injured his right forearm, which was stretched and treated for several minutes by physio Cornell Driessen, who was called to the scene. McIlroy had the injury taped, and continued to play his round.

On his back nine, McIlroy hit a tee shot into the trees on the 12th hole and found his ball sitting in approximately a six-inch depression in the soil. There was an exchange between McIlroy and the trainer, who was seen on the TNT television feed shaking his head and talking to the world No. 4.

A television viewer phoned the PGA of America at Atlanta Athletic Club and said he believed McIlroy had broken a rule barring outside advice. The caller didn't leave his name or explain himself very clearly and the issue wasn't immmediately investigated.

After several viewers raised the question of a possible violation on Twitter, the PGA's top tournament official, Kerry Haigh, viewed the exchange on a video-tape replay in a TV truck.

By the time McIlroy finished his round, PGA rules official David Price was waiting in the scoring trailer. If the name sounds at all familiar, it's because Price was the man who broke the news to Duston Johnson that he had committed a violation on the 72nd hole of the PGA that cost him a spot in a playoff for the title..

Not a guy you want to see lurking after the round with a stern look on his face and a rulebook in hand.

Ultimately, no penalty was assessed. The PGA reviewed the replay and determined that the advice was unsolicited and did not materially impact the way McIlroy played the shot, either.

"It was a casual comment," Price said. "In order for it to be advice, he would have to have asked for it. It didn't affect the way he played the shot."

Price said they listed to the audio playback, too.

"All we could pick up was Rory has his back to the physio, the physio told Rory 'no,' Rory turned his head and shrugged. Then he turned back around, grabbed a club and hit the shot anyway.

"Essentially, it was a casual comment meant to avoid injury."

McIlroy had a similarly confusing rules issue three years ago at the Masters, where tournament officials had to decide whether he had improperly tested the sand while smoothing out his footprints in a bunker at Augusta National. Ultimately, officials elected not to assess a penalty, which likely would have resulted in a disqualification because McIlroy had already signed his scorecard.

McIlroy gutted out an even-par 70 and said Friday's second round is a wait-and-see proposition depending on how his arm feels and the follow-up exam goes.

"As I said, it's a very important tournament, and I'm still even par," McIlroy said. "I'm still in the hunt. So we'll see what the results are tonight, and if I can strap it up and play again tomorrow, I will."

Category: Golf
Posted on: August 11, 2011 6:30 pm

Stake driven through heart of Bubba's round

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- For those who felt like Tiger Woods had a mercurial round on a scorching day at the PGA Championship, consider the plight of Bubba Watson.

Like Woods, Watson held the lead early in the fourth round, and eventually climbed to 4 under par. Then came his second nine, and it was a tale of two scorecards.

After playing his first eight holes in 4 under, including three holes in the Atlanta Athletic Club's tough closing stretch, Watson shot 42 coming home and finished with a 4-over-par 74.

In other words, Watson shot 32-42 and played his final 10 holes in eight over. Similarly, Woods was 3 under at one stage and eventually shot 77. Watson, who lost the PGA title in a playoff last year, said he came undone when he became distracted.

"Things happen," he said. "I had a situation that happened on No. 1, my 10th hole, where I was in the bunker and the [marshal] guy started banging on the stake after they took out the stake for [playing partner Jeff] Overton.

"It happened right when I swung and I lost focus, and lost focus for the rest of the day, and I was mad. I wasn't mad at the volunteer, I was mad at myself because I just lost focus."

Watson birdied four in a row on his front nine, then bogeyed six out of seven in a stretch that followed.

An avid Twitterer, he was asked what message he planned to send to his followers.

"I suck at golf," he said.

Category: Golf
Posted on: August 11, 2011 5:01 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 5:02 pm

PGA's Final Four: Golfers put up hoop scores

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- The progostications were true.

In fact, for once, the players didn't exaggerate.

As advertised, the final four holes at the PGA Championship are the stuff of hyphenated adjectives and hyperventilating.

"They're brutes," said Stewart Cink, who lives eight miles from the club. "Just long, and you've got to hit the fairways. If you don't hit fairways, you are swimming upstream."

Or in one of the club's bazillion lakes.

With the day two-thirds complete, Nos. 15-18 were playing more difficult than any four-hole stretch on the PGA Tour all season. The 15th, a 260-yard par-3, and the 18th, a 507-yard par 4, were playing as the two toughest holes on the course in stroke average.

Why is Steve Stricker leading? He birdied them both -- a feat no other player accomplished.

Several players predicted that the Sunday night situation could be difficult. It might be a major where, like at some past U.S. Opens, a player loses it, rather than wins it, starting on the 15th hole.

"From there on, you have to buckle up," Nick Watney said. "No question, it's such a difficult close. You could very well see somebody post a number early [and sit on it]."

Said rookie Brendan Steele, who shot 69 in his first-ever round at a major: "Somebody gets something posted 2, 2 1/2 hours before the leaders? Yeah, it's going to be hard to hold onto a couple-shot lead."

Category: Golf
Posted on: August 11, 2011 4:48 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 4:50 pm

Ishikawa says sayonara to his hot streak

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- Ryo Ishikawa patiently waded through his daily, ritualistic post-round chat with the Japanese media, which took about 20 minutes.

Then it was time for the English-speaking media to pepper him with questions. The 19-year-old did the best he could.

After all, in any language, it's hard to explain a 15-over-par 85.

After splashing six balls into the water, the Japanese teen became the butt of more than a few jokes in the first round of the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.

He almost shot the temperature. Surprisingly, the bullet-train wreck comes just four days after easily his best showing in the States, a strong T4 performance last week at the Bridgestone Invitational.

"My practice rounds went very well," he said through an interpreter. "Since yesterday, there's a difference in my swing."

Ishikawa started poorly and it only got worse. He had an astounding six double-bogeys on the card, and as the afteroon wave was playing, his score was the worst of the day by four strokes.

"This is the last major tournament [of the year]," he said. "When I went to the second hole and hit my ball in the water, I felt stiffer and stiffer."

That certainly wasn't from the stifling Atlanta heat, which was in the 90s by about 11 a.m. ET.

"This is the first time I have hit so many in the water," he said.

Remarkably, this was the second straight round in succession in which Ishikawa posted in the 80s at a major. He shot 80 in the second round of the British Open last month and missed the cut.

Category: Golf
Posted on: August 11, 2011 8:05 am
Edited on: August 11, 2011 8:15 am

Final major off and running in Hotlanta

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- The final major of the season is officially underway, and now we'll see if the scoring is as hot as the projected temperatures again this year.

The last time the PGA Championship was staged at Atlanta Athletic Club, in 2001, David Toms won with a 72-hole total of 265, the lowest aggregate score in major-championship history.

The par-70 course has been lengthened and 14 tees have been added, but with near-perfect Southeastern conditions in the forecast -- including stifling, energy-sapping heat in the mid-90s for the first round on Thursday -- players should have plenty of scoring opportunities.

PGA club pro Craig Stevens of Dallas hit the opening tee shot Thursday morning off the first tee at 7:30 a.m. ET. He is paired with PGA Tour veterans John Rollins and Brendon de Jonge.

Designer Rees Jones, who handled the recent Atlanta Athletic Club makeover, has more than once been asked this week to put on his genie cap as far as what to expect with the winning score.

"I keep getting asked that question," Jones said on the eve of the event as he stood under a shade tree in the blistering summer heat. "It all depends on how they set it up. I will say around 7 or 8 under."

Toms' winning total was 15 under.

There's already been a setback in the setup. On Thursday night, two greens were damaged by mowers, which scalped the surface off small chunks of sod on the 14th and 17th greens. The areas have been repaired and shouldn’t affect play much.

The first-round weather forecast calls for temperatures in the 90s by early afternoon with a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

American favorites Tiger Woods (8:35 a.m.) and Phil Mickelson (8:15) both play in the morning wave off the 10th tee. If play drags or is delayed, sunset is at 8:28 p.m. ET.

Category: Golf
Tags: pga thursday
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