ROCHESTER, N.Y.--Random observations from the 85th PGA Championship, where driving the ball into the fairway was the coin of the realm and hitting it into the rough, according to Briny Baird, was close to a full shot penalty.Phil Mickelson is an immense talent and probably the most
second-guessed player in golf. Here's my second guess: If you had taken all of the woods out of his bag after his opening 66, he might have had a better chance to win his first major. The reason: Mickelson is even longer than Tiger Woods with his irons. Force Phil to hit clubs that get him in less trouble on a course like Oak Hill and you will force him to post lower scores.
Woods may argue the point, but it doesn't look to me like he's having much fun in the majors. I mean, he's always having fun playing golf. But the one thing he shares in common with all the rest of us who play the game at all our respective levels is that he sometimes puts too much pressure on himself. Too many times at Oak Hill Woods wasn't happy unless he hit the absolute perfect shot. And nobody ever hits enough absolute perfect shots.
Considering the difficulty Jose Maria Olazabal has had hitting fairways throughout an otherwise brilliant career, it was an upset at Oak Hill that the two-time Masters champion made the cut.
Just wondering: Do you think the reason Hal Sutton fired 67 Saturday was because the Ryder Cup captain wanted a better look at the leaders Sunday? The guy he should be paying most attention to these days is Chad Campbell. The best guess here is that Campbell will make Sutton's team next year at Oakland Hills without even having to rely on being a captain's pick.
Speaking of Sutton, those media training sessions are working wonders. Used to be Sutton could be surly and off-putting with reporters. At Oak Hill he was accommodating, accessible and forthcoming without being patronizing about it.
Nick Price skipped this PGA, a championship he has won in the past, because, he said, he wanted to spend more time with his kids. For this we salute him and nominate him as a candidate for Father of the Year. But I can't think of one player whose game would have been better suited for Oak Hill than Price. He is long and straight off the tee, precise with his irons and solid but unspectacular with his putter. You didn't need to make 100 feet of putts every day at Oak Hill. But you did need to keep the ball in play and keep your head. Nick Price knows how to do that.
And finally, looking ahead to next year's PGA Championship at Whistling Straits north of Milwaukee: This one's going to be different. The course is almost in-the-middle-of-nowhere. It has a linksy feel to it. And if the wind blows, this Pete Dye design overlooking Lake Michigan could produce scores that will make Oak Hill look like a pitch and putt.