Listening Carefully Tuesday in Tulsa

By Brian HewittAugust 7, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA ChampionshipIts Tuesday at the PGA Championship. Its the seasons final major. The year has been a grind with course set-ups, across the board on the PGA TOUR, more difficult than ever.
Its Tulsa. Its blazing hot and predicted to remain that way through Sunday. The FedExCup playoffs are looming. And after that there will be a Presidents Cup.
So you write off some of the remarks made the worlds top players to fatigue. But not all of them. There was plenty of talking by plenty of big guns. And in several instances you needed a between-the-lines interpreter to separate the verbal wheat from the verbal chaff.
Like when somebody asked Tiger Woods, the defending champion, if he thought he was bigger, on the world stage, than English soccer superstar star David Beckham.
As far as global figures, hes probably far more global than I am, Woods said.
As to the FedExCup playoffs, Woods reiterated that he intends to play all four events. But, he added on that subject, well see how it all pans out.
Hmmm, a lot of people were thinking.
Was that Woods leaving an opening to take one of the playoff weeks off? Or was that media reading too much into too little.
Then there was the minor fuss over CBS announcer Jim Nantz being quoted as saying that Woods has a four-shot lead over the field before the Thursday start.
Tiger, what was up with that?
I think we are all at even par right now, Woods said smartly.
Maybe the most interesting thing Woods said had to do with the conditions. The ball, Tiger said, goes farther in the heat. How far? Bubba hit 6-iron off of 10 and I hit 5-iron, Woods said, referring to his practice round with long-hitting Bubba Watson.
How far?
Both of those shots went about 230 and 240, Tiger said.
Double Hmmmm.
Scott Verplank, who played his college golf at nearby Oklahoma State, said, Im hoping Tiger still doesnt like the course.
Hmmm, again. We must assume Verplank was referring to Woods failure to challenge on Sunday when they played the U.S. Open here at Southern Hills in 2001.
For his part, Verplank tied for 22nd at that 2001 U.S. Open. But I know it well enough where I can kind of see the shots that you need to hit to play around here, he said. If I play my game at an upper level, then I feel like I have a chance. Now I guess if I play at my upper level and Tiger plays at his upper level, I dont know if Ill have a chance. But I might.
Hmmmmm III.
Freshly-minted British Open champion Padraig Harrington confirmed in the press room that he has had to purchase 1,000 flags from the 18th green at Carnoustie because of all the requests from friends and charitable causes.
Informed of this, Angel Cabrera, who won the U.S. Open in June, said, I havent bought not even one.
Cabrera paused until the laughter died down before admitting his sponsors at PING had purchased 75 flags from the 18th at Oakmont where he so bravely held off Woods late Sunday.
Phil Mickelson always serves up food for thought in the press room early in the week before majors. Tuesday was a virtual banquet.
Much of Mickelsons year has been spoiled by a wrist injury sustained in the days leading up to Oakmont. Now, Mickelson said, the wrist is much better and he has been practicing much more. Im hoping that given a different practice regime and being able to work on my game, Im hoping to have a much better performance, he said.
Fair enough. Mickelson did, after all, win this championship two years ago at Baltusrol. Now if somebody would just tell him that he should have said regimen when he said regime.
Mickelson on putting is always worth a listen, and Tuesday was no exception. To wit:
Have I messed around with a belly putter? he said. I have. For a day or two I had one made up to try it. I think it certainly can be a benefit as far as getting the ball started on line and having your stroke be good. But theres so much more to making putts than just having a perfect stroke. Because you have to line your putter face properly. That plays a much bigger factor into getting a ball started on line than your stroke does; how you aim it; then you have to read the green right and hit the right speed. So although I think it can help you with your stroke, it doesnt necessarily equate to making more putts.
Finally there was this in the local paper, the Tulsa World, on the subject of the heat: If you see a light'a light brighter than the sun in August'at the end of a tunnel and hear a voice call your name, its too late.
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