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PGA Championship news and notes

Tiger's (relatively) good day

The right hand came flying off the handle of the club. The ball kept diving left.

"Get in the bunker!" Tiger Woods barked, tracking the ball's errant flight from the 14th tee. "Get in. Get in."

It did.

Even the rankest golfer knows a ball never listens, but considering how out of control everything else in Woods' life must seem at times, he'll take whatever he can get.

Woods came into the PGA Championship off his worst performance as a pro. The consensus after his debacle at Firestone last week — he finished 18 over par and next-to-last — was that his game had cratered. If so, he was in remarkably good spirits Thursday morning, when fog pushed back the start of the tournament by more than three hours.

Playing a math game on his phone to kill time, Woods showed it to a reporter standing nearby and asked, "Are you good with numbers?"

"You shot 298 last week," came the reply. "I have to be."

Woods broke into a wide grin, then said something that can't be repeated in a family newspaper. He was in a slightly less playful mood by day's end, after an up-and-down round of 1-under 71 left him three shots off the leaders.

Someone asked "Going from shooting 75 last week to … "

Woods cut him off.

"Welcome to golf. It is what it is. Guys shoot 59 and don't win," he said. "Fickle game.

"To shoot something under par, that was the goal (Thursday). After a quick start, all of sudden I felt I could shoot something in the 60s. Didn't quite happen. I lost a few shots out there."

Francesco's focus

Francesco Molinari is trying to add to Colin Montgomerie's Ryder Cup dilemma.

The Italian, below, ranks 10th on the Ryder Cup world points list and seventh on the European Tour points list, with two more tournaments after the PGA Championship to earn one of the nine automatic spots on Europe's team, captained by Montgomerie.

Molinari, who finished his round and was tied for the lead in the clubhouse at 4 under, said he is trying not to think about the Ryder Cup implications.

"I just said to myself, try and focus on doing as good as you can in this tournament and then see what happens," he said.

Keep me hangin' on

Phil Mickelson was among those who didn't finish his round. He left the course after making a 2-footer at the 11th hole to move to 1 under. He has five mathematical ways to overtake Tiger Woods for the No. 1 spot in the world in this tournament.

Ernie Els, desperate to make sure another year doesn't end without a major win, played bogey-free through 14 holes and was at 4 under, making a 7-foot par save on the 14th shortly before the horn sounded to end play.

•Also at 4 under were Matt Kuchar and Nick Watney, courtesy of eagles, Kuchar on the 13th early in his round by holing from the fairway, Watney on the par-5 11th, his last hole of the day.

Whistling out of tune

Pete Dye's funky Whistling Straits layout — no trees, more than 1,000 bunkers, steep elevation changes, trouble lurking everywhere — did its best to torment the world's finest players. Among the victims were U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin, who shot 79, Stewart Cink (77), Retief Goosen (76), John Daly (76), Ryo Ishikawa (76) and Sergio Garcia (78).

Garcia went ballistic after blasting out of a greenside bunker during a bogey-bogey-bogey stretch. He slammed his wedge into the bunker five times, then threw the club at his bag, leaving caddie Gary Matthews to clean up his mess.

Anthony Kim got a taste of the place when he practically kneeled atop the steep face of a bunker to hit one shot. Kim lost his balance and nearly tumbled into the bunker during his follow-through.

While other players waited on the driving range or putting green as fog delayed Thursday's first-round start more than three hours, Bubba Watson played games on his phone and threw things at Rickie Fowler while his good friend tried to sleep. There are, Watson knows, more important things to get worked up about than golf. The fun-loving Watson, a native of the Panhandle town of Bagdad (pop. approx. 1,500), shared the lead in the clubhouse with Francesco Molinari at 4-under 68. After his round, he choked up talking about the difficult year his family has endured, with his father having cancer and his wife a cancer scare. "It's kind of emotional now," Watson said, stopping several times to compose himself. When Watson and his wife, Angie, were visiting his father at Christmas, she checked into a hospital with a severe headache. She was dehydrated, but doctors told the Watsons that tests indicated a tumor in Angie's pituitary gland. "Two months went by, and we did some more tests — man, this is hard," Watson said, stopping to compose himself. Finally, doctors at Duke told them that Angie did not have cancer. Angie, a 6-foot-4 former WNBA player (she was Angie Ball then), has an enlarged pituitary gland, like many tall women. "Hopefully you all don't think I'm a sissy," Watson said through a mix of tears and laughter. "You know, I do hit the ball a long way."

That wacky Wisconsin weather

Does it make any sense that the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wis., is the only major championship site where fog has halted play in a year when the seaside venues Pebble Beach and the Old Course at St. Andrews hosted the U.S. and British Opens? Play began Thursday morning after a fog delay of 3 hours, 10 minutes. "Even though it was foggy, you have to prepare, as it could lift so quickly," said Scotland's Stephen Gallacher, who finished his round at 1-under 71. "So I did my warmup, and then (the fog) just came right in (for a six-minute-more delay). Back in, another breakfast, back out for some chipping, back in for another breakfast of some toast and fruit, back out in earnest. Teed off, and there was a slight delay, and it never really picked up. I didn't see the ball land until the fifth hole." As some players warmed up or practiced, others went to their accounts on Twitter.com or helped the tweeters produce tweets. Ian Poulter posted photographs of him and Paul Casey wearing Wisconsin's favorite headgear, a cheesehead. He had another photo of Martin Kaymer, Alvaro Quiros and ex-Gator Camilo Villegas mugging for the camera with him. Of the 78 players who teed off late in the afternoon, none had finished when the horn sounded at 8:54 p.m. EDT to end play because of darkness. They will finish this morning and then start Round 2. Those who finished the round face a late start and likely won't finish today.

. fast facts

92nd PGA Championship

When/where: Through Sunday; Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wis.

Field: 156 players

Purse: $7.5 million ($1.35 million for winner)

Length: 7,507 yards.

Par: 72.

Defending champion: Y.E. Yang.

TV: 1-8 p.m., TNT;

11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, TNT;

2-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Ch. 10.

PGA Championship news and notes 08/12/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 13, 2010 12:18am]
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