“The way the PGA has set it up with the graduated rough, the way they have rewarded good shots, and they have not overly-penalized poorly struck shots, they have severely penalized poorly struck ones. I just think it’s incredibly well thought out and should identify the best player this week.”
Those are Phil Mickelson’s words from his Tuesday PM gab with the assembled press at Oak Hill country club. The course’s firm fairways are running fast, so balls hit to the edges will resist stasis and tumble on into one of three cuts of rough.
“I don’t sign during the round. I don’t sign before the round. So I have to set aside time after the round, and that’s kind of what I feel is the fair compromise for me to be able to get my work done, but also show my appreciation for the fans who come out here and buy tickets and allow us to play golf for a living.”
Forget pointing fingers at other touring professional golfers. Point fingers at yourself and ask if you give that kind of effort in what you do. Did I shoot enough images (728, I counted) on Tuesday? Did I pick the best ones for this gallery? Are my chosen words the most appropriate and descriptive I can muster? For what it’s worth, there was a line outside the media compound of fans, waiting for Phil to depart and sign some more. Now that’s adulation!
“I think the 15th hole is a great par 3…But what’s also challenging about that hole is that if you miss it left, the green is difficult because it’s pitched into you at first and then works way; making a chip shot or bunker shot extremely difficult to get close.”
I watched Brandon Grace (he’s the guy in some of the photos below, most notably the one with the phone pressed to his ear as he plays the 14th) hit shot after shot from the left bunkers, from the grass beyond the green. It’s clear where their misses will be. Expect to see a lot of cut shots started at the left bunkers on the 15th hole.
“And so you’ve got 12 through 16 where you can make up ground making birdies, and you have 17 and 18 where you’re trying to get home in pars. You can have a huge swing of strokes in that stretch.”
And they say that the Masters doesn’t begin until the back nine on Sunday. Folks, Phil just laid out your viewing plan for the four days of competition. Any questions?
“I think that having Tiger win last week is great, because I can’t remember the last time somebody won the week before a major and then went on and won.”
Don’t quit your day job just yet, Phil, but that’s pretty well-timed. A little bit droll and funny. Well struck, Phil, well struck.
“I think the identity of the PGA Championship changes quite often…I think that what that does is allow young players a chance to be aggressive and not have to play so defensive…I guess I don’t really have a great answer as to why we’ve had first-time winners here, because it really favors guys that are playing well and are experienced.”
Just a little stream of consciousness from America’s Golfer. He spoke for about six paragraphs on this question: First-time major champs at PGA a coincidence? You could tell that he made an attempt to sort it out, realized he couldn’t and shrugged his shoulders.
“I feel like I’ve keyed in on two areas that I’ve struggled with for years, which is putting and off the tee. I feel very confident in my ability to get the ball in play off the tee and I feel very confident in my ability on the greens now; where I’ve turned weakness into strengths…I feel like now the major championships are possible the easiest ones for me to be in contention and maybe even win, because of those weaknesses becoming strengths.”
Yet another blueprint from the master, on how to enjoy golf more. Whether you compete fervently or gently, or just play to get better, we need to start with where we struggle, in order to improve.