Sunday, July 31, 2016

PGA Championship -- Round Three Wrap-Up

So we are at Baltusrol Golf Club, in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City.  Baltusrol is a famous old course that has hosted a lot of major tournaments, but I've usually found it to be a bit of a snooze.  It's one of those old-school U.S. Open courses where it feels like almost every hole is a 470-yard par 4.  The most unusual thing about Baltusrol is that it only has two par fives -- and they are the last two holes on the course.  I'm not aware of any other course that ends with a par-3 followed by two par-5's.  For that matter, I'm not aware of any other course that ends with back-to-back par-5's.  In fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen back-to-back par 5's on any other course.

Anyway, Baltusrol has had mixed success with its major tournaments.  Tony Manero won the U.S. Open here in 1936, and Ed Fugol won the U.S. Open here in 1954, and you are correct that you have never heard of either man.  But then Nicklaus won the Open here in 1967 and 1980.  Lee Janzen shot an 8-under par 272 to win the Open here in 1993, and that tournament apparently convinced the USGA to give up on Baltusrol -- the U.S. Open hasn't been back here since, and I think Bethpage Black has basically taken Baltusrol's spot.

Since the USGA isn't coming back, Baltusrol -- like other clubs in the same spot -- decided to host the PGA.  They had quite a good PGA Tournament in 2005, which was won by Phil Mickelson with a 4-under par 276.  And now they PGA is back.

It's been a pretty generic tournament so far.  Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, J.B. Holmes, and Dustin Johnson all missed the cut.  The only big names still in contention are Jason Day and Henrik Stenson.  Day is trying to win his second PGA in a row, and Stenson is trying to win his second major in a row, and either of those outcomes would be a big deal.  The American contingent is represented by Jimmy Walker and Brooks Koepka, and I think they have just about as much of a chance as you would expect.

One final comment.  This tournament is being played only two weeks after the British Open, in order to leave space for an Olympic Tournament in August that almost no one wants to watch.  I think this has been a big mistake -- it's ridiculous to have two majors so close together.  If golf is in the 2020 Olympics -- and I really hope that is not the case -- then I think they should play the PGA in October -- after the Olympics and the Ryder Cup.  I like to watch golf in the fall, the courses are really beautiful then, and it would be fun to see a big tournament played in October.

Much of the third round was rained out yesterday, so this morning they were playing the third and fourth rounds at the same time.  The third round is now finished, and the leaderboard looks like this:

1.  J. Walker:  -11 (65+66+68=199)

2.  J. Day (AUS):  -10 (68+65+67=200)

T3.  B. Koepka:  -9 (68+67+66=201)
T3.  H. Stenson (SWE):  -9 (67+67+67=201)

T5.  W. McGirt:  -7 (70+67+66=203)
T5.  H. Matsuyama (JPN):  -7 (69+67+67=203)
T5.  R. Streb:  -7 (68+63+72=203)

86 comments:

  1. Tiger Woods won back-to-back PGA titles in 2006 and 2007. Since then, the only two Americans to win the PGA were Keegan Bradley in 2011 and Jason Dufner in 2013.

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  2. OK, the coverage on TNT has ended, and we are moving to CBS.

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  3. The folks at CBS were worried about the potential for bad weather, but it looks as though the weather will hold up. Jim Nantz is very pleased.

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  4. Sir Nick Faldo tells us that he expects you'll have to get to 13 under today to win this tournament.

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  5. The rain is coming down steadily, but they are still hoping to finish in the absence of lightning.

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  6. Cialis watch: one couple at an observatory(!), one couple wandering through the woods, and one that appears to have just installed new curtains. ROMANCE BECKONS!

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    1. OK, this commercial just came on, and I wanted to pay attention to weigh in with my observations. But, instead, I would not avert my eyes, as my wife showed me a video on her Facebook feed about how to efficiently pack two weeks' worth of clothing into a carry-on bag. And, then, as I was watching this video, I realized that this would be the most appropriate comment I could add to this conversation, anyway.

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  7. Jimmy Walker tees off, and all the leaders are now on the course.

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  8. Day bogeys the first hole, while Walker (playing one group behind Day) starts with a par. Leaderboard:

    1. J. Walker: -11 (55 holes)
    T2. B. Grace (RSA): -9 (65)
    T2. W. McGirt: -9 (59)
    T2. B. Koepka: -9 (56)
    T2. K. Stenson (SWE): -9 (56)
    T2. J. Day (AUS): -9 (55)

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  9. Branden Grace birdies the 13th hole, and is now 4 under for the day.

    1. J. Walker: -11 (56 holes)
    2. B. Grace (RSA): -10 (67)
    T3. B. Koepka: -9 (58)
    T3. H. Stenson (SWE): -9 (57)
    T3. J. Day (AUS): -9 (56)

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  10. Walker has some problems with a bad drive on 3, but manages to reach the green with his second shot. Grace missed a putt on 14 to move into a tie for the lead. Meanwhile, Day has suffered another bogey.

    1. J. Walker: -11 (56 holes)
    2. B. Grace (RSA): -10 (68)
    T3. B. Koepka: -9 (59)
    T3. H. Stenson (SWE): -9 (58)
    5. J. Day (AUS): -8 (58)

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  11. Walker does save par on 3, and remains at 11 under.

    The announcers on CBS have noticed that not much has happened so far, but that's pretty much what you get at Baltusrol. It's a course that features a whole lot of pars.

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  12. Stenson birdies the 6th to move to 10 under; Grace bogeys the 16th to fall back to 9 under.

    Walker has parred the first five holes.

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  13. Walker misses a birdie putt on 6, and takes another par.

    Leaderboard:

    1. J. Walker: -11 (60 holes)
    2. H. Stenson (SWE): -10 (61)
    T3. B. Grace (RSA): -9 (71)
    T3. B. Koepka: -9 (62)
    T3. J. Day (AUS): -9 (60)

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  14. Gary McCord is never at the Masters -- Augusta National famously banned him years ago. But he is at the PGA. And it's really amazing how much worse CBS's coverage is as a result. For one thing, McCord talks about as much as any three other CBS announcers. For another, he brings a goofy quality to the coverage that you never get at the Masters.

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  15. See, here's the thing about Baltusrol -- the first 16 holes are all either par 4's or par 3's. All of the par 3's are long, and most of the par 4's are long. So there's not a lot you can do, other than hit the ball down the middle, hit it on the green, and hope to make enough birdie putts to win. I spent two full days watching Nicklaus win the U.S. Open at Baltusrol in 1980, and whenever I see a tournament there, I'm taken back to that era of long summer afternoons at the U.S. Open with Jim McKay and company. Lots and lots of long par 4's; lots and lots of pars.

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  16. At the 1980 U.S. Open, Nicklaus led the tournament after the second round with a score of 6-under par. Isao Aoki was two shots back at 4-under. I then watched these two men play 36 holes over the next two days -- the whole thing must have taken nine hours of viewing time. During the whole time, Nicklaus and Aoki were never more than two shots apart. At the end of 36 holes, Nicklaus was 8-under and Aoki was 6-under. That's the kind of course Baltusrol is.

    Now at the time I was thrilled, because Nicklaus was 40 years old and trying to win his fourth U.S. Open. But it's not as interesting without that type of drama.

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  17. Day birdies the 9th hole and moves to 10 under par, one shot off the lead.

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  18. After opening with 10 pars in a row, Brooks Koepka hits a terrible drive into the woods on 11, and ends up making bogey. He falls back to 8 under, and Walker is now the only American left with a chance.

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  19. Leaderboard:

    1. J. Walker: -11 (63 holes)
    T2. H. Stenson (SWE): -10 (65)
    T2. J. Day (AUS): -10 (64)
    4. B. Grace (RSA): -9 (72)

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  20. I played six holes of golf Tuesday morning, and, on one of them, I scored a par. It was fantastic!

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  21. Jimmy Walker comes to the 10th hole after making 9 pars in a row. He promptly ends up in a greenside bunker, looking as though he may take his first bogey of the day. But instead, HE HOLES THE BUNKER SHOT FOR HIS FIRST BIRDIE OF THE DAY. Walker moves to 12-under par and takes a two-shot lead over Day and Stenson.

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  22. But not for long. Day rolls in a birdie putt on 11, and he is now 11 under par, one shot behind Walker.

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  23. If Rocky had been a golfer, his opponent in Rocky 3 might well have been Henrik Stenson.

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    1. That is a brilliant and accurate comment.

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  24. Both Jimmy Walker and his playing partner, Robert Streb, who was tied for the lead after two rounds, are from Oklahoma.

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  25. Walker is 37 and from Oklahoma City. Streb is 29 and from Chickasha.

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  26. Leaderboard:

    1. J. Walker: -12 (64 holes)
    2. J. Day (AUS): -11 (65)
    3. H. Stenson (SWE): -10 (66)
    T4. B. Grace (RSA): -9 (72)
    T4. B. Summerhays: -9 (70)

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  27. Brooks Koepka is 26 and from West Palm Beach, Florida.

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  28. Oh, my! Jimmy Walker does his Henrik Stenson impression by rolling in a 30-footer for birdie on 11. He moves to 13-under par, and once again has a two-shot lead.

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  29. Leaderboard:

    1. J. Walker: -13 (65)
    2. J. Day (AUS): -11 (66)
    3. H. Stenson (SWE): -10 (67)

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  30. The sun has come out, some birdies are going in, and the fans at Baltusrol -- who have been very subdued all day -- are finally starting to find their voices.

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  31. Walker pars the par-3 12th, and remains at 13-under par.

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  32. Daniel Summerhays birdies the last hole, and he is the clubhouse leader at 10 under par after shooting a lovely round of 66.

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  33. Leaderboard:

    1. J. Walker: -13 (66 holes)
    2. J. Day (AUS): -11 (67)
    T3. D. Summerhays: -10 (72)
    T3. H. Stenson (SWE): -10 (68)

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  34. Nantz tells us that only 14 men made the cut in all four majors. Of those four men, Day will finish with the best combined score. Spieth will finish second.

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  35. Walker runs his birdie putt on 13 well past the hole, but makes the nervy four-footer back for another par.

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  36. Henrik Stenson hits his approach shot over the green at 15, and ends up staggering to a double bogey. He falls back to 8-under par, and his bid for back-to-back majors has taken a devastating blow.

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  37. Spieth finished at 6-under par. He actually played very well; he couldn't make any putts.

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    1. I really like Jordan Spieth a great deal. He's always the first golfer I "favorite" on whatever tournament's online leaderboard so that I can quickly see his score regardless of whether he's among the leaders. But I realized this morning that I've just got to quit watching him on the featured-group feeds, at least until when/if he quits beating himself up when some shot goes badly. Maybe he'll always do this, and, if it works for him, great--I'm definitely still going to be rooting for him to do well. But my guess is that most of the great golfers in history did this when they were very young and then quit doing it some point in their careers.

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    2. I don't think Tiger ever stopped doing it. Bobby Jones stopped doing it in public, but this attitude played a big role in his decision to retire young.

      But I agree with you that it is annoying.

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  38. For the record, Jason Day is on pace for his SEVENTH top-three finish in a major tournament.

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  39. Cialis update: One couple is making homemade pizza, another is walking along the beach, and a third is having a night out on the town. Your mileage may vary.

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    1. This must've been the version that I just missed.

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  40. Jason Day makes an excellent 11-footer to save par on 15. He stays at 11 under.

    Meanwhile, Walker is under a tree near the 15th fairway. His ball does not appear to have a great lie. He whacks at the ball and it stops dead on the green, about 30 feet from the hole. That should be another par.

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  41. Day is finally done with all the par-4's at Baltusrol -- he just has one par-3 and two par-5's left. His drive at the par-3 16th hole misses the green.

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  42. Walker pars the 15th, and now he is also done with the par-4's.

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  43. Day didn't miss the green on 16, but he has a very long putt for birdie, which he does not make.

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  44. Let's give these guys a lot of credit; playing 36 holes in one day is no joke.

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  45. Walker's drive lands on the 16th green; 44 feet from the hole.

    Day's drive on the par-5 17th goes off into the right rough.

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  46. Leaderboard:

    1. J. Walker: -13 (69 holes)
    2. J. Day (AUS): -11 (70)

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  47. I like all the commercials with Kristin Bell and whoever her husband is. I think they should do a movie -- or maybe a 10-episode sit-com for Netflix. We need more good stories about married life.

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  48. Are these the ones about the clothes washers? If so, that guy is a really good actor. I've seen him in a terrific movie with Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman and Tina Fey, and he was also good in NBC's Parenthood show.

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  49. Rio 2016 golfers in this tournament:

    T60 Bubba Watson United States +1 F
    8 Henrik Stenson Sweden -8 17
    T33 Rickie Fowler United States -3 F
    T79 Danny Willett Great Britain +5 F
    T22 Justin Rose Great Britain -4 F

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  50. Walker runs his birdie putt on 16 about four feet past, but he makes the come-backer for another par.

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  51. Leaderboard:

    1. J. Walker: -13 (70)
    2. J. Day (AUS): -11 (70)

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  52. More Rio 2016 golfers:

    CUT Sergio García Spain
    T12 Patrick Reed United States -6 F
    CUT Matt Kuchar United States
    CUT An Byeong-hun South Korea
    T73 Thongchai Jaidee Thailand +4 F

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  53. Day cannot make the birdie putt on 17, and he will remain at 11 under.

    On CBS, the point out that only one player has won back-to-back PGA Titles. That is the one-and-only Tiger Woods, and he did it twice.

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  54. Leaderboard:

    1. J. Walker: -13 (70)
    2. J. Day (AUS): -11 (71)

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  55. Stenson finishes with a 1-over par 71. He finishes at 8-under for the tournament.

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  56. More Rio 2016 golfers:

    T56 Danny Lee New Zealand E F
    T13 Emiliano Grillo Argentina -6 17
    T22 David Lingmerth Sweden -4 F
    T33 Søren Kjeldsen Denmark -3 F
    CUT Bernd Wiesberger Austria

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  57. On 18, Day rips a long drive straight down the middle, and then hits a glorious second shot to within about 10 feet of the hole. He will have that for an eagle.

    But back on 17, Walker backs off his birdie putt, waits for everyone to calm down, and then HOLES HIS PUTT to move to 14-under par. He now has a three-shot lead.

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    1. Great sequence ... kudos to CBS being on it with Jason Day's reaction to Walker's birdie being posted.

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  58. Leaderboard:

    1. J. Walker: -14 (71 holes)
    2. J. Day (AUS): -11 (71)

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  59. Walker takes an iron off the tee on 18, and puts the ball straight down the middle.

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  60. There's a great shot of Day walking up the 18th fairway and looking for the scoreboard. When he saw that he was three shots back -- instead of two shots back -- he flipped his driver in frustration.

    CBS is so good at golf.

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  61. Rio 2016s:

    T7 Martin Kaymer Germany -8 F
    T66 Kiradech Aphibarnrat Thailand +2 F
    CUT Anirban Lahiri India
    CUT Thorbjørn Olesen Denmark
    T33 Joost Luiten Netherlands -3 F

    Sweden and Thailand are going to be tough!

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  62. If Walker wins, this will be the first time since 2011 -- and only the second time since 2003 -- that all four majors went to first-time winners.

    It's been that kind of year in sports. Just ask Villanova. Or Coastal Carolina.

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  63. OK, here's Day for eagle -- he makes it! Jason Day eagles the last hole and finishes at 13-under par.

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  64. Leaderboard:

    1. J. Walker: -14 (71 holes)
    2. J. Day (AUS): -13 (72)

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  65. On CBS, they are expecting Walker to lay up on 18 -- but he has decided to pull out a wood. It may be a five-wood. It's a three-wood -- he's going for the green! He misses, and lands in the rough near the green. Everyone on CBS is appalled.

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  66. Maybe 36 holes will not be enough.

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  67. On CBS, they urge Walker to simply get his third shot on the green. Faldo thinks he was trying to reach the bunker in front of the green.

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  68. Nantz says that Walker should think of it as a 33-yard par 3. Make par and you win.

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  69. Rio 2016s:

    86 Thomas Pieters Belgium +10 F
    CUT Fabián Gómez Argentina
    T49 Rafael Cabrera-Bello Spain -1 F
    CUT Wang Jeung-hun South Korea
    T42 Scott Hend Australia -2 F

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    Replies
    1. T73 Marcus Fraser Australia +4 F
      CUT Brandon Stone South Africa
      T33 Yuta Ikeda Japan -3 F
      T18 Grégory Bourdy France -5 F
      CUT Nicolas Colsaerts Belgium

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  70. OK, so here's Walker. Great shot of Day watching with his son in his lap.

    CBS thinks he should be able to get this on the green. Here we go. He hits a high flop shot that lands about 30 feet from the hole.

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  71. Walker is still away, so he lines up his birdie putt. Nantz starts telling a story about a big putt Walker made in 2009 to keep his card.

    Here he goes: the putt rolls about 3 feet past. "No guarantees in that one," says Sir Nick.

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  72. Streb putts out, and now here's Walker for all the money. He MAKES IT, and he WINS THE 98TH PGA CHAMPIONSHIP.

    Congratulations to Jimmy Walker!

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