BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. ' Dont play scared, was the advice coming from Adam Schriber, perhaps the best golf instructor in the world who toiled in relative obscurity until this year.
Play cocky, Schriber added, thumping his index and middle fingers to his chest. Play with heart.
Schriber is best known these days for being the architect of the swing and attitude changes that have helped rocket 23-year-old Anthony Kim to No. 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
But this particular advice was for Schribers boss.
Schriber, you see, is on director of golf Brad Deans staff at Crystal Mountain, a burgeoning golf and ski resort northeast of Oakland Hills in a pretty little place called Thompsonville, Mich.
And Dean, you see, qualified to play in this PGA Championship by finishing T-15 at the PGA Professional National Championship at Reynolds Plantation in Georgia in June.
Moreover Dean, a native Michigander, will be the first player to hit the first ball off the first tee Thursday when his 7:30 grouping that includes Briny Baird and Alastair Forsyth officially Christen this championship.
Oh, and by the way, this will be the first official PGA TOUR event for the long-hitting 42-year-old Dean, who has played a lot of good golf over the years in the Michigan Section of the PGA of America.
For his part, Dean is more aware than most that the league he will be playing in Thursday is a different one.
This is way overwhelming, Dean said Wednesday afternoon after finishing his final practice round.
He said it with a big smile, though. And you had to like that. It may be overwhelming. But he is soaking up every last big minute of it. Just eight days ago Deans wife gave birth to the couples fourth child. The proud father is still beaming.
Whether he makes the cut or not. This is all good.
Attempting to avoid the rush Wednesday, Dean was all set to be the first off the tee in his final tune-up when a couple of other players in the field showed up and asked if they could join him.
Brad Dean, meet Corey Pavin and Charles Howell.
Two of the nicest guys, Dean said.
Along for the ride was Pavins noted golf shrink, Dr. Richard Coop. So Dean picked his brain. A lot of it was stuff I tell my students at Crystal Mountain, Dean said.
But the reassurance was, well, reassuring. So what are the precise thoughts that will be in Deans head when he steps up to the tee on the 435-yard first hole in the first round?
I just need to bury myself in my pre-shot routine. I just need to focus on the shot. I did that pretty well at Reynolds.
Dean and Schriber affectionately refer to Kim as Junior. When I asked Kim Wednesday afternoon if he had any tips for Schribers boss on the eve of the PGA Championship, Kim broke into a broad grin.
I dont know if I have any advice, Kim said. When we tee it up tomorrow hes going to be one of my competitors and obviously I wish him the best
Kim paused for effect, knowing Schriber was listening to his press conference. But I might have to try to take him down for Adam this week.
By that time Dean had adjourned to the players family lunch room. His 13-year-old daughter Emily, it turns out, is very aware of Kim and Camilo Villegas and Sergio Garcia and the fact that those three are grouped together the first two days.
If any of them are in there, were going to try and get the next table over, Dean said.
Kim, Garcia and Villegas are scheduled to go off No. 10 at 8:25 a.m. Dean said he wont be surprised if Emily drifts away from his threesome. But he expects a lot of noise from a lot of people when they introduce him on the first tee.
Deans goal is a modest one and a smart one. He would like to make the cut and play on the weekend. His length and his putting are his strong points, he says. Schriber says Deans a little handicapped by lack of trajectory on a track built to favor high-ball hitters.
But Schriber thinks Dean can survive and advance to Saturday. When not working with Kim, Schriber has been keeping an eye on his bosss mechanics in recent weeks.
And, hey, nobody ever accused Hogan of being a high ball hitter. And he brought the Monster that is Oakland Hills to its knees at the U.S. Open in 1951.
Whatever happens, the Brad Dean story is one of the feel good stories of the week, if not the year, in major championship golf.
Crystal Mountain is one of the Midwests best family resorts, Dean said Wednesday afternoon, marketing when he could have been excused for needing to put his game face on. If you bring your family there, they will have something to do every single day.
Thursday and Friday, at least, Crystal Mountain will have to be one of the Midwests best family resorts without its director of golf.
He will be busy at Oakland Hills.
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