By John Strege
The PGA Championship might rank fourth in major championship prestige, but if common sense were the barometer, it would rank ahead of the Masters and Augusta National.
Recall that Tiger Woods entered the Masters having won consecutive starts and anticipation was at a zenith. Yet only the final few holes of his first round were televised and Augusta National did not include his group in its featured pairing that it showed on its website, choosing instead to show the group of Peter Hanson, Charl Schwartzel and Webb Simpson.
Woods came into the PGA Championship off a landslide victory in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, his fifth victory of the season, amping up the anticipation again. The PGA of America chose to have his group be the featured pairing on its website, enabling those with access to a computer to watch his entire round, as flawed as it turned out to be.
Too much risk, no reward
It began with a tee shot right of the fairway. Stymied by a tree, Woods still attempted to slash a hard slice around it (see photo) and failed, putting him in more of a bind.
On TNT, Ian Baker-Finch criticized Woods' course management. "David, I often wonder with Tiger, he tries to make that spectacular recovery shot, why doesn't he just pitch it out in the fairway and pitch it from 60 yards close?" Baker-Finch said. "It would have been easier."
"It's not in his nature, Feherty replied.
Broadcast rookie of the year
Notah Begay, a winner of four PGA Tour events and Woods' teammate at Stanford, is a Golf Channel rookie who was hired when Dottie Pepper left NBC and the Golf Channel. It was a prudent hire, too:
-- On Tiger and his propensity for hitting the wayward shot: "He is by far the best range player I've ever seen. I don't think I've ever seen him miss a shot on the range, all through the bag, the driver included. But then when he takes that to the golf course, he does get a little bit out of sync. When it speeds up too much with adrenaline it's just kind of this convergence of all the things you don't want to happen, the sequence gets off and you see a few errant shots."
-- On Woods' instructor Sean Foley, who revealed in a Golf Channel interview with Golf Digest and Golf World senior writer Tim Rosaforte that he used to tell associates that he would teach Woods one day: "Sean's renowned for giving a $10 answer to a 10-cent question. And it's because he has a wealth of information based upon science, based upon philosophy and based upon his own personal experiences. I truly feel that the people that do go through a bit of a tough time in their life -- and he went to an all-black college [Tennessee State], he was the white kid, he was in the minority at that particular place -- has to develop a sense of who they are and a perspective on what they feel is important, and the goals that they want to set in their life. He felt that he wanted to be an instructor. And I can't think of a better way to motivate one's self than to say, 'I'm going to teach Tiger Woods.'"
Twitter thrust and parry
The unapologetically acerbic Steve Elkington engaged in a brief Twitter set-to with a PGA of America professional, Ryan Szydlowski, head pro at Desert Willow Golf Resort in Palm Desert, Calif.
On TNT's telecast Michael Breed, who had provided commentary of the featured group at PGA.com, was introduced as the PGA Teacher of the Year.
Elkington: "Michael Breeds teacher of the year?.....Who's he teach?"
Szydlowski: "@elkpga not about teaching tour players. Michael gets new golfers excited and encourages lifelong players to keep having fun."
Elkington: "Oh...I thought I heard teacher of the year....U want fun hire a clown"
Szydlowski: "clowns draw cartoons and love to draw attention to themselves too! Sound familiar?"
Advantage Szydlowski. Elkington is a cartoonist who draws caricatures that he ties to the golf news of the day and calls it Cartoon Corner.
It wasn't the best start for Phil Mickelson on Thursday. Moments before his tee time, TNT caught him asking no one in particular, "How do you get to number one?"
(Getty Images photo)