Notes Short Trip Furyks Start Hot Hot Hot

By Associated PressAugust 9, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Bob Estes arrived at Southern Hills about 9 a.m. Thursday as an alternate, hoping to play in the PGA Championship for the 10th straight year. By 2 p.m., he was on his way back to the airport to fly home to Austin, Texas.
At least it was a short trip.
The last time Estes showed up at a major championship as an alternate, he flew from Texas to Scotland for the 2005 British Open at St. Andrews and still didn't get in.
This was one was because of miscommunication.
Estes was the third alternate behind Brian Gay and Stephen Marino, but said he saw something on GOLF CHANNEL on Wednesday that indicated Gay was in the field. That would move him up to No. 2, enough for him to start making travel plans.
He called Sentient Jet, which has a marketing agreement with the PGA TOUR, and was told a private jet from Austin to Tulsa would cost $9,000 and get him to Southern Hills in time for the first tee time at 7:30 a.m.
'I decided to pay $175 on ExpressJet and get here at 8:30,' he said.
Imagine his surprise to realize that Gay was still an alternate. Realizing that no one was about to withdraw, Marino left town. Gay was cleaning out his locker and Estes was back on the phone book another flight.
'I made the mistake of not calling myself,' Estes said.
Reminded that he was an alternate at St. Andrews and didn't get in, Estes agreed that the return flight would be much shorter.
'And I didn't spend $9,000,' he said. 'I would fly around the world for $9,000, but not to Tulsa.'
The tour announced its marketing agreement in January 2006, and the announcement included this tidbit: Sentient Jet will provide PGA TOUR members a 'variety of benefits tailored to fit the unique demands of a professional golfers travel schedule. These include a special offer to join the program, flexible billing options, and guaranteed jet availability on short notice for tournament cut days.'
Jim Furyk was more worried about rust than an ailing back that caused him to pull out of a World Golf Championship last week at Firestone. His worst fears were realized quickly in the first round of the PGA Championship.
Faced with a simple up-and-down on No. 1, he chipped to 8 feet and missed. Then came a three-putt at No. 2, and another bogey on the fourth that had the world's No. 2 player at 4 over through four holes.
Furyk played only nine holes each day leading to the final major.
'My start wasn't too good,' Furyk said. 'That was what I wanted to focus on. Not having played much, I felt like getting off to a good start was important.'
He settled down after that and only dropped one more shot, on No. 12, but he had no birdies on his card for a 75.
In stifling heat, Furyk said his back felt fine. He told reporters Wednesday that he was hitting the ball poorly, although Furyk said he had few complaints with that department.
'It was the mental mistakes and the stupid things,' he said. 'I got what I got. I'm not happy with a 75.'
Even though he didn't go to the University of Texas, Rich Beem lives in Austin and has a Bevo head cover for his driver. During a practice round Wednesday, with so many in the gallery wearing the crimson of Oklahoma and orange of Oklahoma State -- the Longhorns have been beating them both lately -- he wondered if that was a bright idea.
Southern Hills head pro Dave Bryan, a former Sooner, was only happy to help. He lent Beem his OU head cover for a fairway metal, which Beem dutifully slipped over his 3-wood. That gave him Texas and Oklahoma in his bag.
Beem was among the early leaders Thursday until a 44 on the back nine sent him to a 76.
The National Weather Service said the temperature reached 100 degrees at 4 p.m. in Tulsa, about the time Phil Mickelson was making the turn in his first round.
For some, it felt like triple digits must earlier.
Pat Perez was in the morning group and shot 70, then said he was never thinking about birdies and bogeys.
'I'm just trying to stay alive out there,' Perez said. 'It's so hot I can't even think straight. Just stay cool and drink water and just kind of get around.'
Andres Romero of Argentina is holding down the 10th spot in the Presidents Cup standings for the International team. But with points gradually reduced in the world ranking, Nick O'Hern of Australia will be at No. 10 if both miss the cut.
O'Hern, who opened with a 72, figures he's in good shape either way.
'I think I would be a strong candidate as a captain's pick,' O'Hern said. 'Especially with my record in match play.'
The Australian left-hander went 2-3-0 in the Presidents Cup two years ago, but he has left a stronger mark in the Accenture Match Play Championship. He beat Tiger Woods in the second round in 2005, and he ended Woods' seven-tournament winning streak on the PGA Tour by beating him in the third round this year in Arizona.
'I'm not sure too many guys have done that,' O'Hern said.
No one has. Woods has been beaten 10 times in match play as a professional, including exhibitions, and O'Hern is the only player to have beaten him more than once.
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