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First Round Suspended by Lightning

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CHASKA, Minn. -- One shot was all Tiger Woods got Thursday morning before play was suspended because of bad weather in the opening round of the PGA Championship.
 
Woods hit an iron shot down the middle of the 410-yard, par-4 10th hole but, just as he reached his drive, the horn sounded to halt play.
 
With no rain falling, Woods had a look of, 'Are you kidding me?'' but lightning soon was spotted and heavy rain began falling about 10 minutes later.
 
During the last major tournament at Hazeltine National Golf Club, the 1991 U.S. Open, spectator Billy Fadell was killed and five others were hospitalized when struck by lightning on June 13, 1991.
 
As Woods and playing partners Ernie Els (the British Open champion) and David Toms (the defending champion) were coming off the course, a spectator asked Woods' mother, Kultida, what the suspension meant.
 
'It means he's won,'' she said, laughing.
 
Els outdrove Woods by about 10 yards, but the South African's ball landed in a large divot.
 
When play was stopped, less than one-fifth of the field of 156 was on the course, and the best score, shared by numerous golfers, was 1-under.
 
The last major of the year is often the least appreciated, least identifiable and least watched of golfing's version of the Final Four.
 
But no tournament has a better field.
 
All but two of the world's top 100 are entered, led by Woods, who no longer can win the Grand Slam but still can finish a first-ever All-American Slam by winning the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA in the same year.
 
'I always feel that's one thing the PGA Championship has going for it ' we've always got the best players in the field,'' Thomas Bjorn said. 'That's a great, great thing to have for a championship. If you look at all the tournaments that are played throughout the world over the whole year, this has got to be the strongest field.''
 
And not just this year, either.
 
'I think we have the best field of all time,'' Woods said.
 
That's why the PGA just could be the toughest of the four majors ' well, at least to predict. Of the last 14 PGA winners, 11 had never captured a major before, including Toms in 2001.
 
Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia, arguably the most skilled golfers in the field without a major title, wouldn't mind if that soon becomes 12 of 15.
 
'I'm here to try to win, and it doesn't matter if it's the PGA, the U.S. Open or whatever major,'' Garcia said. 'I wouldn't mind if the PGA was my first major. It would be great.''
 
Mickelson has won twice this year and has 21 career PGA Tour victories. But the frustration that always accompanies him in majors is best illustrated by his PGA second-place finish a year ago at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
 
Despite shooting 14-under ' the best score ever by a non-winner ' Mickelson lost by a stroke to Toms, who wouldn't have won without his hole-in-one on No. 15 during the third round.
 
'I think it would have been more frustrating had I not had a chance to win,'' Mickelson said. 'Although I didn't beat every single player in the field, I played to a level that I need to play at to win a major championship.''
 
But when? Only Harry 'Lighthorse'' Cooper (31) and MacDonald Smith (24) have won more times on tour without claiming a major championship. Mickelson has never held the 54-hole lead in a major, but has finished second or third in five of the last 14 majors.
 
The biggest question going into any major, of course, is whether anyone in the field can play up to Woods' level.
 
Woods seemed loose, relaxed and confident during his early morning practice round Wednesday, even trotting out his famous bounce-the-ball-at-the-end-of-his-club trick for his huge gallery.
 
Woods has won seven of the last 12 majors, despite his weather-related breakdown in the British Open ' a pro career-worst 81 in the third round ' that prevented him from going for the Grand Slam at Hazeltine.
 
What also makes the PGA especially difficult to handicap is its ever-changing venues. Unlike the U.S. Open, which sticks mostly to a fairly predictable circuit (Pebble Beach, Oakmont, Baltusrol), the PGA likes to stop at the new or rarely frequented: Hazeltine, Valhalla, Sahalee, Crooked Stick, Whistling Straits.
 
'It's the major that plays in the most different golf courses than all the others,'' Garcia said. 'The PGA always seems to move a little more, but they always seem to find some really nice courses to play.
 
'It's a tournament that you want to have in your house ' and, hopefully, I'll have a good chance in it.''
 
Full coverage of the 84th PGA Championship