Thursday, August 8, 2013
Glory's Last Shot, oh wait, that moniker was dropped for this year's PGA Championship at the PGA Tour's request.
So what we have is the final major championship getting underway in Rochester, N.Y., at Oak Hill.
Tiger Woods was the prohibitive favorite entering this week on the heels of the victory he secured last Sunday in Akron, Ohio at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
However, some early reflections from the PGA Championship's first round show Woods didn't get off to the start everyone expected. Instead of putting a strong round together, Woods faltered late and posted a 1-over par 71.
Currently, he's six shots behind two men: Jim Furyk and Masters champ Adam Scott.
And while that's not an inconceivable margin to make up over three rounds, the telling stat is this: there are 40 golfers under par at the present time and a total of 58 players ahead of him on the leaderboard.
That's a large number to get by, but Woods is capable of such a feat. So yours truly isn't counting him out of the running just yet. It just means he'll need to figure things out a bit more when Friday's second round rolls around.
Another thought from Thursday's opening round is how Scott has elevated his game this season. After such a heartbreaking performance at the 2012 British Open, Scott could have packed it in and never competed again on the big stage. Instead, he became the first Australian to ever win the green jacket when he caught some late magic at Augusta National for his first major championship.
He also played well at this year's British Open for awhile, despite not walking way with the Claret Jug (that went to Englishman Justin Rose).
Another musing is two-fold: Phil Mickelson is trying to string together a solid start after a tough beginning, and where on Earth has Paul Casey been hiding?
Casey, who ascended to a career-best No. 3 world ranking in 2009, has plummeted to just inside the top 100 in the world coming into this week's tournament.
Yet the Englishman is tied for fifth in the early going after a superb 3-under par 67 leaves him just two off the lead.
However, Casey hasn't put four strong rounds together in majors this year. At the U.S. Open, he was having a respectable tourney until a 79 dropped him into a tie for 45th place. How about the Masters and British Open? Casey didn't play in either.
But that 67 is a solid start for the former world No. 3.
Meanwhile, Mickelson's bid for a second straight major title began in horrendous fashion as Lefty bogeyed and double-bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4, respectively, en route to a 2-over par 37 on the front nine.
Mickelson, though, has birdied three of four holes and is currently playing a par-5 on the back nine.