Notes Tough Day for Lehman More Sad News

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill ' Tom Lehman started his day with his head bowed, leading a prayer for Darren Clarke. He ended it in the rules trailer, confirming a double-hit with his wedge on the 15th hole that turned his 76 into a 77.
 
That likely ended any thoughts of Lehman being the first playing captain at the Ryder Cup since Arnold Palmer in 1963.

Even so, it was a day packed with emotion.
 
Clarke's wife, Heather, died Sunday of breast cancer at age 39. About an hour before the funeral in Portrush, Ireland, Lehman was asked to lead a brief memorial for her on the putting green behind the clubhouse at Medinah Country Club.
 
Lehman didn't know Heather, but he has become a spiritual leader on the PGA Tour and was asked to speak because some European players who were close to her didn't think they could get through it.
 
About 75 people attended the 10-minute memorial, including Thomas Bjorn, Colin Montgomerie, David Howell and Jose Maria Olazabal from the European tour, Robert Allenby of Australia with his wife, Sandy, and Lucas Glover.
 
Glover said he went to support Butch Harmon, Clarke's swing coach, and because Clarke 'plays our tour a lot and he's a top-ranked player and it's a pretty big tragedy.'
 
'It was the right thing to do,' he said. 'That was a great deal Tom did and the PGA did. It was good.'
 
Lehman lost in a playoff last week at the International -- a victory would have put him in the top 10 in the U.S. standings -- but he started slowly Thursday with three bogeys on the first four holes.
 
He was in the first cut, right of the green at No. 15, when his chip scooted a few inches and the blade of the wedge popped it in the air. Lehman immediately turned to his playing partners to suggest something wasn't right, and TV replays in the rules trailer confirmed it.
 
A QUAD OPENING
Brett Wetterich is 10th in the Ryder Cup standings, and he was eager to play well in the PGA Championship to secure his spot on the team. He got off to a great start Thursday, 4 under par through 11 holes and tied for the lead.
 
But it all came undone on two holes.
 
First, Wetterich made a quadruple-bogey 8 on the 12th hole to slip back to even par. After trading a birdie and a bogey, he made another quadruple bogey on the par-3 17th and shot 76.
 
Barring a strong second round, chances of making the cut are slim.
 
His Ryder Cup chances are certainly less, too, especially after three players behind him in the standings -- Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink and Davis Love III -- made strong starts Thursday.
 
Still, Wetterich could make the team even without making the cut. The last time the PGA Championship was played at Medinah, Jeff Maggert was 10th in the standings and missed the cut, then narrowly made the team when Bob Estes stumbled on the closing holes.
 
MORE TRAGEDY
Ernie Els was the latest player to cope with a loss in the family this week.
 
Els learned that his father-in-law, Piet Wehmeyer, died in Cape Town, South Africa, on Wednesday after a short illness at age 87.
 
His wife, Liezl, left Chicago for the 16-hour flight home.
 
Els shot 71 on Thursday and headed straight to the practice green. Spokesman Mark Bell kept a reporter away and said Els would speak on Friday.
 
BROTHERLY LOVE
Jerry Haas won round No. 1 of the Haas brother matchup.
 
The younger brother of tour veteran Jay Haas shot a 2-over 74 in the first round of the PGA Championship, beating his brother by a shot. The two were paired together Thursday, the first time brothers have competed together in the PGA Championship since Lanny and Bobby Wadkins in 1995.
 
Jay Haas is nearly 10 years older than Jerry and had to be the favorite in the matchup because he is playing in his 27th PGA Championship and is the reigning PGA Senior Champion. Jerry Haas is the golf coach at Wake Forest and earned a spot in the field by finishing in the top 20 in the Club Pro Championship.
 
The two putted out on the final hole and then gave each other a hug instead of the traditional handshake to end the round.
 
CLUB PROS
The PGA Championship is unique among the majors because club pros are playing, though it's rare for any of the 20 in the field to make the cut.
 
Gregory Bisconti hopes to change that. The assistant pro at The St. Andrew's Golf Club in Hastings on Hudson, N.Y., shot a 2-under 70 in the opening round to make a strong bid to play on the weekend.
 
With his 16-year-old stepson caddying for him, Bisconti overcame nerves to birdie the first hole and got it to 3-under before making a bogey on the par-4 12th hole.
 
'I saw my cousin out there and made sure that he snapped a picture of the leaderboard, because you never know if you're going to get back there,' Bisconti said.
 
Bisconti's bogey came after his group crossed paths with a group containing Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson where the 12th and 15th tee boxes converge.
 
'That whole circus left the tee box, so I was a little bit nervous on that tee,' he said.
 
Bisconti said he had high hopes for making the cut, but conceded the whole experience was unique for him.
 
'The hardest part for a guy like me is blocking out the distractions,' he said. 'The easy part for these guys is that they do it week in and week out. They feel out here like I do back home -- comfortable and it's not a big deal.
 
PROVINCIAL PGA
The PGA Championship has a tradition of grouping the three major champions of the year for the first two rounds. But it can be quite provincial when announcing them.
 
Never mind that Phil Mickelson won the Masters. He was introduced as the winner of 2005 PGA Championship.
 
Tiger Woods won the British Open, but he was recognized only as the winner of the 1999 and 2000 PGA Championships.
 
And U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy?
 
He was introduced as being from Australia.
 
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