Baltusrol Readies for the PGA
In Bush's trailer office on one of the country's top golf courses, the plaque on the wall Friday read: '52 days until championship week begins.'
'It's the ultimate deadline,' the PGA Championship tournament director said. 'They are all going to be here on Aug. 8.'
Bush has been getting ready for the PGA - golf's fourth major - for two years. The 28-year-old Michigan native has been working at Baltusrol since October 2003, developing plans for ticket sales, corporate involvement, vendors, volunteers, traffic, housing and everything else it takes to stage a golf tournament.
In the past month, 25 of what will be 300 truckloads of building material arrived at the 109-year-old course that has hosted 15 USGA national championships, including seven U.S. Opens.
'Now, as we have started construction, we are looking to see 'does the plan work?'' said Bush, who has worked at 56 tournaments. 'It is constantly changing. It's like a puzzle and we're making adjustments on an hourly basis refitting those pieces back into the puzzle.
'Everybody in this office has to be able to change their plans and go with it, and our vendors have to be the same way.'
Running the PGA Championship isn't the easiest of jobs. During an interview, his telephone rarely stops ringing. His cell phone is just as busy, and there are 70 or so e-mails that need to be answered on a daily basis.
The one area Bush doesn't have to worry about is the Lower Course, where the championship will be played. Kerry Haigh is in charge of everything inside the ropes.
Haigh recently told Bush that the course is ready after a wet spring. The rough is full and thick, the greens are outstanding, and conditions will only get tougher in the next seven weeks.
'This is a traditional golf course,' Bush said. 'Everything is in front of you. You can see the trouble but sometimes you just can't do anything about it. That's what makes it great. It has withstood the test of time.'
Players who competed in the 1993 U.S. Open will see some changes on the Lower Course. The rough was re-sodded last year, and the course is longer and narrower, playing at 7,400 yards - 248 more than 12 years ago.
The par-5, No. 7 has been extended 25 yards to 647 yards, which might even prevent the game's longest hitters from reaching it in two.
Bush plans on watching some of this year's U.S. Open on television, but he isn't going to pick Pinehurst apart.
'I look at it the other way,' he said. 'I'll sit there and say, 'I love that' and 'How do I get that here?' I always root for something special. Augusta was incredible whether it was Tiger or not. The three-month stretch where (every tournament) was going into a playoff was incredible.'
Seconds after the words came out of his mouth, Bush started thinking about a potential three-hole playoff at the PGA - and the implications.
The marshals at holes Nos. 4, 17 and 18 have to remain in place all day to protect them. Extra holes could also create transportation problems for the players and the expected 35,000 spectators. Potential dilemmas flood his mind.
But after a second, Bush smiled. That's exactly why he's spent the past two years in New Jersey getting ready.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake
Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.
While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.
“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.
Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.<
DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi
Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.
“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”
Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).
“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.”
Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.
Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace).
“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”
Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi
What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.
Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.
McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.
He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.
McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65).
Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds.
“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”
Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder
Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.
Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.
Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:
Filling in tomorrow for Corey Pavin that WD today @cbgolfchallenge I do things like this a lot to help events and asking for sponsors exemptions here but didn't get any help.— Ken Duke (@DukePGA) January 18, 2018
Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.
Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.