What happens at the PGA if the wind doesn't blow?

By Jason SobelAugust 9, 2012, 11:02 pm

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – The most important figure at the 94th PGA Championship has never won a major, but he’s played a major role in plenty of ‘em.

He strikes fear into the hearts of golfers. His mere presence sends scores soaring.

He is forever temperamental, blowing hot and cold without any notice.

They call him The Breeze.

Prior to the opening round at the appropriately named Ocean Course, he was all the world’s elite players were talking about.

Ernie Els: “If the wind blows, obviously it makes it a little bit more difficult.”

Rory McIlroy: “If the wind … comes, it's obviously going to be more about how you mentally approach that.”

Adam Scott: “If the wind gets up … it's up to Mother Nature to determine where your ball is going to finish.”

If… if… if…

Well, here’s another if: What if The Breeze doesn’t blow?

We found an answer to that question on Thursday, as the course known for tempestuous, howling winds was rendered a shark without teeth or a snake without venom.

This was a venue only Bob Barker could love. It was effectively neutered for most of Round 1.

“There really wasn't much wind on the front nine,” said Carl Pettersson, who took the lead with a 6-under 66, “so I knew I had to keep going low because I figured the wind would get up.”

That was about the only thing he got wrong all day.

“Hitting balls on the range this morning, there was completely no wind,” reported McIlroy, who shot a 5-under 67 that left him just one stroke off the lead. “It was flat calm and I really thought that I had to take advantage of the conditions.”

He wasn’t the only one. In all, 25 of the 78 players who teed off before noon finished the day under par, making the year’s fourth major look more like the John Deere Classic 2.0.

By the time The Breeze did show up for its late tee time, there was already more red on the leaderboard than in the stands at a University of South Carolina football game.

This is the 7,676-yard behemoth that had players quivering in their soft spikes? This is the course that was rated by Golf Digest magazine as the toughest in all of America?

It just goes to show once again that wind – not course length or dense rough or green speeds – is the greatest determining factor of scoring for the game’s top professional players.

When it did finally start picking up during the late afternoon, the results were predictable. More high-arcing iron shots traveled off line. More of them destined for the green found the rough, more destined for the rough splashed down in pervading water hazards.

“The wind progressively picked up as the day went on,” explained Aaron Baddeley, who posted a 68 for one of the best scores of the afternoon wave. “This golf course, there's a lot of crosswinds; there's not many downwind or into the wind holes. It's mainly across, so it definitely demands your attention.”

The Breeze will demand everybody’s attention over the final three rounds, as well, with pantlegs whipping and flagsticks bending.

It is, to steal an album title from indie rock band Modest Mouse, Good News for People Who Like Bad News.

You’ll never see the Ocean Course play as benignly as it did during the morning of the opening round, which means that conditions should only become more difficult as the week progresses.

“I'm expecting this to be the best day of the week,” McIlroy said. “I think everyone is. So we know that there's going to be a bit of wind coming in and maybe a bit of bad weather. It's just something that you're going to have to deal with and I'm just happy that I got off to a great start.”

Even when he’s barely discernible, everybody is still talking about The Breeze.

Much like some of the game’s best players, he mostly laid low in the opening round. Also like them, expect him to launch a furious comeback and make his presence felt as this tournament continues.

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods teed off at 12:15PM ET alongside Justin Rose for Round 3 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.