Thursday's Birdies and Bogeys

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Thursday's Birdies and Bogeys

August 07, 2013

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Adam ScottIt is becoming increasingly difficult to reconcile the Adam Scott we see in majors these days with the one once defined by untapped potential. Even in seeing an opportunity slip away last month in the British Open, the 33-year-old Scott has emerged as a player who routinely shows up at majors. His start at Oak Hill was another example, with the Masters champ playing the first 10 holes in five under, then holding on after the rain delay to tie for the lead at 65.

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Bogey: Tiger WoodsWoods appeared to carry momentum over from his seven-shot win at Firestone last week when he birdied two of his first six holes. He had a four-foot birdie attempt to get to three under on his 11th hole, but he missed and things got worse from there. A closing double bogey gave him a one-over-par 71 despite playing in ideal scoring conditions. Woods certainly didn't shoot himself out of it on Day 1, but he'll be stewing about a missed opportunity until his late second-round tee time.

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Birdie: Jim FurykThe game hasn't been particularly kind to the veteran of late, not when you consider a series of Sunday meltdowns in 2012, followed by missed cuts in the most recent U.S. and British Opens. But Furyk is a grinder, and when he torched Oak Hill for a 65 on Thursday, he was grateful for another shot at glory. With a U.S. Open and 16 career wins already, Furyk would lock down a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame with another major title.

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Bogey: Shaun MicheelTen years after his unexpected win at Oak Hill, Micheel was doubtful to summon the same magic this week. The major title remains his lone PGA Tour win, and he's made just one cut in nine starts on the Web.com and PGA Tour combined this year. Still, an opening 76 at Oak Hill that featured a string of four consecutive bogeys on the back nine was a harsh way for a guy to return to the site of his biggest moment. There were no miraculous 7-irons this time around for Micheel. At this point, it d be a miracle if he played the weekend.

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Birdie: Rory McIlroyThanks to a highly-publicized slump, McIlroy arrived at Oak Hill as perhaps the most overlooked defender of a major championship. Not much was expected of the 24-year-old this week despite winning by a tournament-record eight shots at Kiawah's Ocean Course last year. But after some putting help from Dave Stockton, a first-round 69 could be just what he needs to turn things around.

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Bogey: Club ProsOf the 20 club pros in a PGA field, at least a couple are usually good for a run up the leader board. Not so far this year, where even with benign conditions at Oak Hill, not a single club pro ended the day under par -- and several finished well over. We get it, these guys have day jobs. But for those who feel that club pros merely take up spots in the field, this was evidence in their favor.

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Birdie: Lee WestwoodYou gotta give the guy credit: he won't take no for an answer. After letting another major go with his final-round 75 at the Open at Muirfield, Westwood has given himself another opportunity a couple of weeks later. His opening 66 was his best start in a PGA by two strokes (although we're not sold on the yellow shirt). Is he only setting himself up for more disappointment? Maybe, but it's better than having no hope at all.

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Bogey: Phil MickelsonThe recent British Open champ was bad (three over through seven), then brilliant (four birdies over his next six holes), then bad again with a closing double bogey. Add it all up and you got a disappointing 71 for a man riding a major hot wave and who feels he's playing the best golf of his life. Mickelson took driver -- and even his "Phrankenwood" -- out of his bag this week in an effort to avoid Oak Hill's penal rough. But even hitting 3-wood and long irons off the tee, he too often ended up tangling with the historic track's other main obstacle: it's huge oak trees.

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Birdie: Matt KucharThe best golfer without a major -- at least, the best American golfer -- quietly put himself in position to win his first after a bogey-free 67 on Thursday. Kuchar didn't qualify for the 2003 PGA at Oak Hill, but he has a history at the Rochester course, losing in the quarterfinals of the 1998 U.S. Amateur to Sergio Garcia. It probably wasn't a coincidence that he's paired with the Spaniard the first two days. Kuchar got the best of Garcia (69) in the first round, but both have much loftier goals in mind.

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Birdie: Steve StrickerThe top-ranked "Good Guy" on the PGA Tour according to Golf Digest's inaugural ranking, Stricker shot 68 on Thursday to begin his latest quest for that elusive first major title. The 46-year-old is in semi-retirement mode, as evidenced by recently skipping the British Open, but he's proving again that he's dangerous when he tees it up. You see? Nice guys can finish. . . oh wait, they haven't finished yet. Well, you get the point.

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Birdie: Oak Hill setupAn Oak Hill member was lamenting the low scores being shot on Thursday, which begs a question: What kind of major venue is looked upon more favorably -- the kind that merely tortures the world's best, or one that brings the best players to the fore? We think it's the latter, and thus far, the PGA has managed that with Oak Hill. Featuring a graduated rough that has become standard at the U.S. Open, Oak Hill was tough enough to punish errant shots, but fair enough to allow players to be aggressive. An afternoon rainstorm likely softened the course more than officials would have liked, but at least the PGA isn't preoccupied with protecting par.

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Birdie: David HearnA 34-year-old journeyman trying to make his first PGA Tour win a PGA Championship? We think we've seen this story before at Oak Hill. A decade after Shaun Micheel pulled off his stunning win in Rochester, Hearn was the surprising early clubhouse leader after posting a 66. Hearn, who finished runner-up at the John Deere Classic last month, wouldn't be the first Canadian (Mike Weir) to win a major championship. But a University of Wyoming grad winning a major? That's just crazy talk.

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