SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Charley Hoffman waited, fiddling intermittently with his iPad while sweat trickled down his forehead. When he set the device down, Pat Perez scooped it up and tried his luck at a computer game.
Both were waiting for a little luck of their own at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits that never came.
Hoffman and Perez were the tournament’s first two alternates, and they spent Thursday camped up in a sweltering tent at the No. 10 tee box watching group after group receive the crowd’s warm cheers and begin their major championship bids.
“Hopefully somebody’s not able to play and I’ll be able to get in there,” said Hoffman, who had a wrist injury early in the season that hindered him until the summer. “Unfortunately the PGA is making us sit on the tee, obviously it’d be a little better if we could be on the practice facility and actually be ready to play instead of sitting here.”
Hoffman joked that he was taking in a little steam in the tent.
Perez called it an oven, and many pros stopped by to greet the two.
“They’re usually asking questions, ‘Why am I here?”’ Hoffman said. “They know, though. If you want to get in the major championship, that’s why you do it.”
With Hoffman as the first alternate, Perez had the less enviable position of being second – a virtual certainty that he wouldn’t be playing.
“Waiting for nothing,” Perez said.
That didn’t keep him from saying that if Hoffman got in, he would too.
“It’s either zero or two. It won’t be just one, you can bet on that,” Perez said.
Hoffman’s wife, Stacy, decided to stay at the hotel instead of hanging out to watch nothing.
With an over 3-hour delay due to foggy conditions, the couple figured they’d spend another night in Wisconsin instead of catching a flight back home to San Diego.
“It’s a long day, obviously if someone pulls out it would be worth it,” Hoffman said. “But it’s a little time consuming.”
Hoffman said he’d look at booking flights off his iPad, but was afraid they still wouldn’t make it to the airport in time because the final pairings don’t tee off until 5:25 p.m.
“I was hoping to get out tonight, but with the 3-hour delay I don’t think it’s possible,” he said, remaining in good spirits. “It’s definitely worth the wait. There’s no downfall besides a day.”
MEET, GREET AND EAT, EAT, EAT: Stephen Gallacher got to eat and eat and eat as he waited through the fog delay. He also met a fellow countryman for the first time.
During the long delay, Gallacher chatted with Martin Laird, the two men representing Scotland in the tournament even though they’d never met.
Laird played college golf at Colorado State and now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“I had never met him before and we sat during the delay and had a nice chat,” Laird said. “We were talking about having a couple (of players) over here and flying the flag.”
Gallacher spent most of his time eating as the fog kept hanging around.
“I got here at 5:45, had my breakfast and went out,” Gallacher said. “In for another breakfast, back out for some chipping, back in for another breakfast of some toast and fruit. … 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.”
SICK DAY: Australia’s Jason Day had a round that positions him near the top of the leaderboard for Friday. The chronic sinus infection he’s battled over the last eight months continues to give him fits.
“I’ve been on medication for about three months now,” Day said. “My left maxillary sinus was full – 100 percent blocked – at the start of the year and it went down to 60 (percent). I had two, three CAT scans now, three CT scans now, and it’s actually halfway, under halfway right now full of gunk.”
Day said his plan now is to survive through the next few tournaments before having surgery after the FedEx Cup that will take out a portion of bone and drain the sinuses. He’ll need about two to four weeks to recover.
In the meantime, he continues to fight the symptoms and balance problems with medicine. He said he needed six or seven energy bars and about 10 bottles of water to complete his round and that he can’t practice because of his illness.
“I would go maybe every couple of holes and get a little shaky again. I felt lightheaded out there, but I try to not make that an excuse,” Day said. “I want to focus on playing well, even though it’s a little frustrating out there.”
WISCONSIN’S HOPEFULS: Steve Stricker was humbled by the large ovation he received to begin his round. Wisconsin’s other hopeful, Jerry Kelly, lost his concentration early and blamed himself for a bad start.
Stricker was 1-under par through 13 holes after play was suspended because of darkness.
“Pretty nice welcome I got there on the first tee. That got me a little bit, it’s pretty cool to come up there and get that sort of reception to start to play. You want to get off to a good start, too,” Stricker said. “I hit a lot of quality shots early – all day, really.”
Kelly, meanwhile, finished his first round with a 3-over 75.
“I just threw it away, countless – just menial stuff,” Kelly said. “Small mistakes I can’t make if I expect to contend in a setting like this, so it’s disappointing. I haven’t shot myself out of the tournament yet by any means. But (I need) a great round tomorrow – and I’m going to need a great round on Saturday.”
DIVOTS: Tiger Woods and Charles Howell III also mentioned they ate breakfast three times as their early morning tee times turned into midday starts. … The two fog delays totaled 3 hours and 16 minutes and play was officially called at 7:54 p.m. … Woods has posted subpar rounds in 14 of his last 17 tries at PGA Championships dating back to 2006. … This week’s purse is $7.5 million, up $1.25 million from the 2004 PGA Championship here.