First Round Suspended by Lightning
Woods hit an iron shot down the middle of the 410-yard, par-4 10th hole but, just as he reached his drive, the horn sounded to halt play.
With no rain falling, Woods had a look of, 'Are you kidding me?'' but lightning soon was spotted and heavy rain began falling about 10 minutes later.
During the last major tournament at Hazeltine National Golf Club, the 1991 U.S. Open, spectator Billy Fadell was killed and five others were hospitalized when struck by lightning on June 13, 1991.
As Woods and playing partners Ernie Els (the British Open champion) and David Toms (the defending champion) were coming off the course, a spectator asked Woods' mother, Kultida, what the suspension meant.
'It means he's won,'' she said, laughing.
Els outdrove Woods by about 10 yards, but the South African's ball landed in a large divot.
When play was stopped, less than one-fifth of the field of 156 was on the course, and the best score, shared by numerous golfers, was 1-under.
The last major of the year is often the least appreciated, least identifiable and least watched of golfing's version of the Final Four.
But no tournament has a better field.
All but two of the world's top 100 are entered, led by Woods, who no longer can win the Grand Slam but still can finish a first-ever All-American Slam by winning the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA in the same year.
'I always feel that's one thing the PGA Championship has going for it ' we've always got the best players in the field,'' Thomas Bjorn said. 'That's a great, great thing to have for a championship. If you look at all the tournaments that are played throughout the world over the whole year, this has got to be the strongest field.''
And not just this year, either.
'I think we have the best field of all time,'' Woods said.
That's why the PGA just could be the toughest of the four majors ' well, at least to predict. Of the last 14 PGA winners, 11 had never captured a major before, including Toms in 2001.
Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia, arguably the most skilled golfers in the field without a major title, wouldn't mind if that soon becomes 12 of 15.
'I'm here to try to win, and it doesn't matter if it's the PGA, the U.S. Open or whatever major,'' Garcia said. 'I wouldn't mind if the PGA was my first major. It would be great.''
Mickelson has won twice this year and has 21 career PGA Tour victories. But the frustration that always accompanies him in majors is best illustrated by his PGA second-place finish a year ago at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Despite shooting 14-under ' the best score ever by a non-winner ' Mickelson lost by a stroke to Toms, who wouldn't have won without his hole-in-one on No. 15 during the third round.
'I think it would have been more frustrating had I not had a chance to win,'' Mickelson said. 'Although I didn't beat every single player in the field, I played to a level that I need to play at to win a major championship.''
But when? Only Harry 'Lighthorse'' Cooper (31) and MacDonald Smith (24) have won more times on tour without claiming a major championship. Mickelson has never held the 54-hole lead in a major, but has finished second or third in five of the last 14 majors.
The biggest question going into any major, of course, is whether anyone in the field can play up to Woods' level.
Woods seemed loose, relaxed and confident during his early morning practice round Wednesday, even trotting out his famous bounce-the-ball-at-the-end-of-his-club trick for his huge gallery.
Woods has won seven of the last 12 majors, despite his weather-related breakdown in the British Open ' a pro career-worst 81 in the third round ' that prevented him from going for the Grand Slam at Hazeltine.
What also makes the PGA especially difficult to handicap is its ever-changing venues. Unlike the U.S. Open, which sticks mostly to a fairly predictable circuit (Pebble Beach, Oakmont, Baltusrol), the PGA likes to stop at the new or rarely frequented: Hazeltine, Valhalla, Sahalee, Crooked Stick, Whistling Straits.
'It's the major that plays in the most different golf courses than all the others,'' Garcia said. 'The PGA always seems to move a little more, but they always seem to find some really nice courses to play.
'It's a tournament that you want to have in your house ' and, hopefully, I'll have a good chance in it.''
Full coverage of the 84th PGA Championship
Watson back in top 40 after OWGR free fall
Bubba Watson ended his free fall in the Official World Golf Ranking with a two-shot victory Sunday at the Genesis Open.
Watson, a fixture in the top 10 in the world as recently as 13 months ago, had dropped all the way to 117th after a 2017 season in which he struggled with poor form, illness and desire.
After his third career win at Riviera, he is up to 40th.
Kevin Na rose from 95th to 65th after tying for second in Los Angeles, while Tony Finau jumped from 41st to 33rd.
Tiger Woods actually improved in the world ranking, from No. 550 to No. 544, despite a missed cut at the Genesis Open.
On the European Tour, Joost Luiten surged from 90th to 68th after his victory in Oman.
The top 10 in the world remained unchanged as the PGA Tour heads into the Florida swing: Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy.
Bubba catapults, Phil creeps up in Ryder Cup standings
Bubba Watson was an assistant on the 2016 Ryder Cup team. He doesn’t want to be driving a cart in Paris.
Watson, thanks to his victory in the Genesis Open, jumped from 60th to 10th in the latest U.S. Ryder Cup standings. The top eight after the PGA Championship qualify automatically for this year’s edition at Le Golf National in France.
Phil Mickelson moved up one spot to 11th after tying for sixth at Riviera Country Club.
Players will receive one point per dollar earned in regular events this year, with 1.5 points per dollar in majors and two points per dollar for winning a major. Here's a look at the current U.S. standings:
1. Dustin Johnson
2. Brooks Koepka
3. Justin Thomas
4. Jordan Spieth
5. Matt Kuchar
6. Brian Harman
7. Gary Woodland
8. Rickie Fowler
9. Chez Reavie
10. Bubba Watson
11. Phil Mickelson
12. Patrick Reed
On the European side, the top four players from the Ryder Cup points list will be joined by the top four qualifiers from the world points list, with captain Thomas Bjorn making four additional selections. Here's a look at the current top names:
Ryder Cup Points
1. Justin Rose
2. Tyrrell Hatton
3. Ross Fisher
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick
1. Jon Rahm
2. Tommy Fleetwood
3. Sergio Garcia
4. Rory McIlroy
Genesis Open purse payout: Bubba makes bank
Bubba Watson won the Genesis Open for a third time on Sunday, moving his career PGA Tour win total to 10. Here's a look at how the purse paid out at Riviera Country Club.
|T26||Rafael Cabrera Bello||-2||$46,996|
|T37||Charles Howell III||-1||$33,120|
|T60||Harold Varner, III||3||$15,696|
|T68||Tyrone van Aswegen||7||$14,400|
After Further Review: Haas crash strikes a chord
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the horrifying car crash involving Bill Haas ...
I spent a lot of time this week thinking about Bill Haas. He was the passenger in a car crash that killed a member of his host family. That man, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was a successful businessman in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a new friend.
Haas escaped without any major injuries, but he withdrew from the Genesis Open to return home to Greenville, S.C. When he’ll return to the Tour is anyone’s guess. It could be a while, as he grapples with the many emotions after surviving that horrifying crash – seriously, check out the photos – while the man next to him did not.
The entire Haas clan is some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Wish them the best in their recovery. – Ryan Lavner
On TIger Woods' missed cut at the Genesis Open ...
After missing the cut at the Genesis Open by more than a few car lengths, Tiger Woods appeared to take his early exit in stride. Perhaps that in and of itself is a form of progress.
Years ago, a second-round 76 with a tattered back-nine scorecard would have elicited a wide range of emotions. But none of them would have been particularly tempered, or optimistic, looking ahead to his next start. At age 42, though, Woods has finally ceded that a win-or-bust mentality is no longer helpful or productive.
The road back from his latest surgery will be a winding one, mixed with both ups and downs. His return at Torrey Pines qualified as the former, while his trunk slam at Riviera certainly served as the latter. There will surely be more of both in the coming weeks and months, and Woods’ ability to stomach the rough patches could prove pivotal for his long-term prognosis. - Will Gray
On the debate over increased driving distance on the PGA Tour ...
The drumbeat is only going to get louder as the game’s best get longer. On Sunday, Bubba Watson pounded his way to his 10th PGA Tour title at the Genesis Open and the average driving distance continues to climb.
Lost in the debate over driving distances and potential fixes, none of which seem to be simple, is a beacon of sanity, Riviera Country Club’s par-4 10th hole. The 10th played just over 300 yards for the week and yet yielded almost as many bogeys (86) as birdies (87) with a 4.053 stroke average.
That ranks the 10th as the 94th toughest par 4 on Tour this season, ahead of behemoths like the 480-yard first at Waialae and 549-yard 17th at Kapalua. Maybe the game doesn’t need new rules that limit how far the golf ball goes, maybe it just needs better-designed golf holes. - Rex Hoggard
On the depth of LPGA talent coming out of South Korea ...
The South Korean pipeline to the LPGA shows no signs of drying up any time soon. Jin Young Ko, 22, won her LPGA debut as a tour member Sunday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and Hyejin Choi, 18, nearly won the right to claim LPGA membership there.
The former world No. 1 amateur who just turned pro finished second playing on a sponsor exemption. Sung Hyun Park, who shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last year, is set to make her 2018 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand.
And Inbee Park is set to make her return to the LPGA in two weeks at the HSBC Women’s World Championship after missing most of last year due to injury. The LPGA continues to go through South Korea no matter where this tour goes. - Randall Mell