Southern Hills media centre – Monday 1.30am BST…
So he did it and in some style. It wasn’t a procession and it was rather more enthralling than we were anticipating thanks to the plucky challenges of Woody Austin and Ernie Els.
But above all we saw the added dimension that separates Tiger Woods from the rest. He’d gone in with his game plan – a largely conservative approach playing for fairways and greens and taking chances as they presented themselves. Woods had bogeyed the second but that was the only alarm and two holes later he was back at seven under par.
At the seventh he collected a third birdie and one hole later it looked like it was going to be all over very quickly, as he thrillingly holed a monster for back to back birdies. He celebrated the moment, wheeling away from the green punching air as a boxer would savagely deal a blow to the kidneys.
But Els was standing firm and playing spectacular golf. From tee to green he was back to his very best, going to the turn in 32 despite missing a short down-hiller for birdie at the ninth. At the tenth he went for the green with a driver and moved to five under par. He was making Woods think and so was Austin who reeled off three spectacular birdies in a row from the eleventh.
Then Woods three putted the 14th. The lead was down to one. And this is where the extra dimension came in. Woods was furious. He knew he had to attack and he boldly took on the pin at the fifteenth to set up what proved the deciding birdie. “I had got myself in this mess, I needed to go and get myself out of it,” he commented.
Ultimately Els carded a 66, Austin a 67. The maths said Woods could par home for a two shot win to secure his first major of the year and the thirteenth of his career. Once again it was fabulous front-running golf and it gave him his first major since becoming a Dad. Elin and Sam were here, baby Sam dressed in, you guessed it, red.
It was great to see a resurgent Els – he should feel buoyed by the charge that he made. Otherwise it is hard to see who is going to prove a consistent challenger to Woods at the highest level in the near future. Woods is just unstoppable and now within five of Jack Nicklaus’s major record.
Southern Hills media centre – Sunday 9.00pm BST…
If Tiger Woods does what we expect and wins at a canter this afternoon
remember this story to put his front-running achievement into context.
I’ve just come off the course having walked the back nine with Colin
Montgomerie. The Scot was purring along. His ball striking was
unerringly magnificent, on the greens – using his new extra thick
gripped putter – he was looking assured. When he holed from eight feet
on the 15th he’d picked up his fifth birdie of the day.
But the margins are so narrow on a championship set-up course. The
rough looks innocuous. It isn’t. The ball sinks to the roots, you
can’t see the ball until you arrive upon it and this is within two paces
of the fairway. And this is what happened to Monty.
At the 17th his drive was a fraction too far down the right and kicked
into the rough. He had no way of knowing how the ball would fly as he
played his short approach. It came out low, skinny and left skimming
into and out of the left greenside bunker. Now he was chipping from the
rough. Montgomerie left it short, missed the curling putt and a shot
At the last another drive crept into the right rough. All he could do
was pitch it thirty yards forward into the fairway. From there it was a
long approach into the heart of the green. The par putt was long and up
a step with a big left to right break. He three putted. Double bogey.
Three shots gone in the blink of an eye.
Woods’ lead is three. It could go just like that – but it probably
won’t because he is that good. We’ll be finding out in our live
commentary on Five Live from 9pm UK time.
Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, has scotched rumours that he has played his
last competitive round of the year. There’d been suggestions from
Lefty’s Dad that his son had been told to completely rest his
troublesome left wrist.
But after finishing his round in the company of Monty, Mickelson said:
“I will be playing the FedEx Cup series. I was told this was going to
be a 12 week recovery process. I’m in the 11th week and it feels just
terrific.” He shot a one under par 69, equalling his best round of the
week, to finish at six over par. He finished birdie, par and beat
Montgomerie by two – on the 17th tee the Scot had been two ahead. See
what I mean about the margins?
Southern Hills media centre – Sunday 4.15pm BST…
It’s Sunday morning, we’ve been here for nearly a week and we are still
yet to see a cloud. Not one wisp has been evident in the clear blue
skies above Tulsa but showers are forecast for tonight. Meteor showers.
Apparently we’re in for a display of shooting stars the like of which we
haven’t seen since George Doors packed-in giving the scores.
Of course there’s only one star from the golfing galaxy currently
exciting any interest and the general consensus is that this could prove
one of the dullest of major championship final days. Certainly that’s
the view of those thirsting for a tight and dramatic contest. The
feeling is that Tiger Woods, at seven under par, is going to ease away
and win at a canter as he did twelve months ago at Medinah.
Then he went into the final round level with Luke Donald, but
accelerated well clear in the opening couple of holes. This time he’s
already three ahead of a chasing pack who between them have barely
competed at the sharp end of a major. Stephen Ames (Woods’ closest
rival) once finished fifth at the Open while Woody Austin (3 under) and
John Senden (2 under) are looking for their first top ten finish in a
Ames, meanwhile, appears to have learned the lesson that bating Tiger is
not a good idea. Last night he was at pains to talk-up the world number
one. “He’s a better player than all of us,” Ames said. “He’s the best
in the world. Are you kidding me? It’s tough playing with Tiger. He’s
relentless. He’s always hitting the great shots and making all the
“It’s just like Jack Nicklaus used to do,” added the 43 year old
Trinidad born Canadian. “The exact same thing. When Jack walked on to
the tee everyone’s knees started shaking.” So how will Ames combat the
Tiger factor as he tries to chase down this three shot deficit?
“My game plan is to be conscious of what I’m doing and not be conscious
of what Tiger’s doing,” he said. “That’s the only thing I have control
over – myself not him. That’s the biggest concern that I have is being
Southern Hills media centre – Sunday 02.00am BST…
Has there ever been a better front runner in golf? There’s been so much
said and written about Woods’ golfing ability and mental strength but
there’s a fair dose of intellect to be thrown into the mix as well.
Woods has the uncanny knack of being able to work out the number – the
score that will be good enough to win the tournament. Once you know
that you can assemble the game plan.
It’s my hunch that Woods has known the number for this week for some
time. It meant today he could play percentage golf without risk that
totally eliminated any prospect of anything worse than a bogey. As it
turned out there was only one dropped shot, two routine birdies and a
lot of stress-free pars. That’s great golf on a course that has yielded
more than its fair share of double bogeys or worse.
So here he is out in front heading into the final round. Woods has
never let such a position slip in a major before. All twelve of his
titles have been won from this position. His final round scoring
average when leading a major is 69.25. The 12 players who have been
paired with him average 72.93. If those rivals have known the number
they’ve often pressed too hard and ended up dropping shots.
All of which is not good news for Stephen Ames, mind you it is a
delicious pairing. There’s history here. Ames questioned Woods’
golfing powers ahead of their WGC Matchplay meeting last year and Woods
whipped him 9 and 8. Ames says his comments were taken out of context,
Woods isn’t so sure.
It’ll be 100 degrees or more when they meet on the first tee, but don’t
be surprised if the air is frosty. But fair play to Ames – he showed
great bottle with his third round finish. He was one of the few to
birdie the last and make sure of his place in the final pairing with
And what will be the winning number? Woods knows, but when asked he
refused to divulge. It is privileged information that will remain with
the man who is set to secure his thirteenth major title and successfully
defend his PGA crown. Or is there a twist in store?
Southern Hills media centre – Saturday 10.00pm BST…
Sergio, Sergio, Sergio. Just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse the Spaniard, who so nearly won the Open that he’d dominated for pretty much four solid days, has just been booted out of the US PGA.
A clerical error in the recorders hut did for Garcia. He’d taken five at the par four 17th, en route to a four over par third round 74. The only trouble was his scorecard showed him taking a four. He’d therefore signed for an incorrect score and was disqualified.
It’ll come as no consolation to Garcia that his playing partner Boo Weekley was oblivious to the error as he discussed his own 65.
Weekley was quizzed on his understanding of the complex qualification criteria for next month’s FedEx Cup. “You don’t know much about the formula?” came the question.
“No sir, I never was good at math,” came the reply. “Can you count up to five?” might have been the next question, but it wasn’t. Weekley also admitted that he was unaware that a birdie at the last would have given him a share of the course record 63 shot yesterday by Tiger Woods.
“No I didn’t know,” he said. “Really, that would have been nice. I was just trying to make par. You try to make par and look where I ended up, trying to be safe,” he laughed. Weekley finished by bogeying the last and goes into the final round at level par.
As for Garcia, he swiftly left Southern Hills, but his influence remains. He’s starring in a beer ad on television in which he plays a Spanish James Bond-style character. He has departed, no doubt, shaken and stirred.
We’re preparing ourselves now for commentary from nine o’clcock on Five Live Sports Extra wondering whether anyone is going to be able to stay with Woods at the top of the leaderboard.
His closest rival is Scott Verplank – and he, by the way, is the seventh man who can boast making the cut in all four majors this year.
Southern Hills media centre – Saturday 6.00pm BST…
We have a new obsession. Yes the heat is ever present, but we are
getting used to it now. No, the latest all consuming topic surrounds
this mystical number – 63. Tiger’s astonishing round yesterday is still
the talk of Southern Hills, and how on earth did that putt for 62 not
Dave Pelz, putting guru and former NASA scientist, has suggested that
there might even have been something wrong with the way the hole on the
18th green had been cut. He says he’s done the sums and when a ball is
grabbed by the hole in the way that Woods’ putt was it physically HAS to
But the Golfing Gods decree that no one is allowed to go below the magic
number of 63 in a major. It was first achieved by Johnny Miller in the
final round of the 1973 US Open at Oakmont. Woods became the 21st man
to match that score yesterday and in all it’s been done 23 times. Vijay
Singh (1993 US PGA and 2003 US Open) and Greg Norman (1996 Masters and
1986 Open) are the only players to shoot 63 in a major twice. The only
two Britons to match the record low in one of the big four championships
are Nick Faldo (1993 Open) and Paul Broadhurst (1990 Open).
Meanwhile there are four Brits who today can boast the proud record of
making the cut in all four majors this year. They are; Paul Casey, Ian
Poulter, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose. Nicholas Fasth was another.
Indeed five of the seven to achieve this feat are Europeans. Woods,
inevitably, has hung around all four days – but can we get the other
player? Not yet – will keep you posted…..
Colin Montgomerie made his first major cut here since finishing second
at the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot.
Southern Hills media centre – Saturday 2.00am BST…
Okay here’s what happened. Second round day was trundling along – nothing much was exciting much interest. All was quiet, we were feeling sleepy in the afternoon heat.
Then we became aware of something hotter than the burning sun. It was so hot only one man could touch it. It was the putter that lives in the bag of Mr T. Woods, golfer extraordinaire.
Suddenly putts were flying in, by the fourteenth even the putter was too hot to handle so Tiger chipped in from the edge of the green with an eight iron. It was the middle birdie in three in a row that took him to seven under for his round.
At this point we were calling the Five Live studio. “There’s history in the making here, you know!” Inevitably the home of live news and sport (this felt like both) cleared the decks and by the time the great man strode on to the final green I was commentating on what was going to be the lowest round in the history of the majors.
“Of course”, I cautioned, “this could all prove rather anti-climactic.” Well it wasn’t. Yes the putt didn’t drop but it was drama to the end. The hole beckoned Woods’ ball on its fifteen foot journey to history. It called it in and just as it was about to be swallowed the hole spat out the ball with the force of a pinball machine.
Woods dropped his putter in frustration. “I was mad, thought it was going to drop,” he admitted. Then he went into Tiger speak mode. “What would a 62 have meant to you?” we wondered.
“It would have meant I would have had a three shot lead rather than a two shot lead,” he claimed. Oh yeah? I don’t believe it – Tiger doesn’t just collect records, he treasures them. For the record he became the 21st man to shoot 63 in a major.
And he also knows all about records and there are two that make miserable reading for the rest of the field here. The first is that he’s never lost a major in the seven times he’s led at halfway and the second is that in all six majors staged here at Southern Hills the halfway leader has gone on to win.
Game over? I think it might be.
Anyway let’s finish with the bizarre incident of the day? Woody Austin’s shot at the 13th that headed into the water and landed on a deceased amphibian. “Yeah my ball was in the little creek sitting right next to a huge dead frog. It was upside down. I just pulled it out with my sand wedge. I didn’t want to touch him!” Austin said.
Dead frogs and Tigers – no one could touch them today.
Southern Hills media centre – Friday 8.30pm BST…
Time for a spooky stat. Padraig Harrington has just finished with a round of 73. That makes opening rounds of 69 and 73 – the same scoring as in his first two rounds at Carnoustie. Is it an omen?
The difference is that this is a par 70 course, the Open venue was a 71. Today the Claret Jug holder started on the back nine and was three over par halfway round. On the way back he birdied the long par 3 sixth but dropped a shot on the ninth, his closing hole.
Few were surprised to see the Storm blow away. The overnight leader had one of those days with the tone being set with dropped shots at the second and third. Graham commented: “I got the run of the ball yesterday. I obviously played really well and everything went my way. Today anything that could go wrong did go wrong.”
Storm admitted he’d had a disturbed night. He was first out at 7.30 this morning and kept waking convinced he was going to sleep in.
I’m just watching John Daly – he’s going for it, big style! His first hole is the tenth, a 366 yard right to left dog-leg. Every other player has been hitting a hybrid at most from the tee to play for position.
Not Daly. He’s waited for the green to clear, pulled out his driver and has aimed to cut the ball round the corner and hit the green in one. Where did it go? Television couldn’t follow it because it was such an unconventional approach. “We’re not set up to find those shots,” wailed the commentator. Now we’ve just learned he’s in the trees, next to a cart path right of the green, pin high!
It’s going to be an interesting ride……..
Southern Hills media centre – Friday 3.10pm BST…
It’s a truly gorgeous morning in the high 80s – the heat of the day is yet to come. The meteorological numbers are in from the steamy first day. The official high was 101 degrees Fahrenheit, the hottest day of the year in Tulsa so far.
Paramedics treated 22 spectators for heat related problems and three were taken to hospital. The National Weather Service has imposed another excessive heat warning for today.
It’s been fun watching the headline writers at work. The weather (as I’m sure you can tell by now) has become an utter obsession and then a bloke by the name of Storm blows in to take the championship by……..you get the point.
Of the four majors this is the one with the strongest field, nearly all of the world’s top 100 players are competing. But there are also the 20 American club pros here to reflect the heritage of this championship.
Erik Wolf shot a first round 83 and opened the second round with a double bogey six but there’s still no wiping the smile from his face this week.
“It’s kind of like I’m a kid in a candy store here,” said Wolf. “It’s like Disneyland….I feel like I’ve actually gotten a piece of my dream.” (He’s American by the way).
Wolf has plenty in common with Graeme Storm. Like the first round leader 2002 was his annus horribilis. His golf was going nowhere and while Storm had resorted to working in a cake factory, Wolf was actually declared bankrupt.
It was while waiting in a queue for a hamburger the following year that Wolf said something just hit him to get his life back on track. He rediscovered his love for golf and begged for a teaching job.
“All of a sudden I was helping other people rather than worrying about missing the cut. Now I’m something. Now I’m a teacher,” he revealed.
And he remains a handy player too. By finishing ninth at this year’s PGA Professional National Championship he earned his biggest ever cheque $12,750 but more importantly a ticket to golfing Disneyland – the final major of the year.
Southern Hills media centre – Friday 01.35am BST…
John Daly signalled that we should be looking for the unexpected and although this part of the States is known as Tornado Alley no one was quite expecting this Storm to blow in.
What a start from the 29 year old from Hartlepool? Graeme Storm was the only man not to drop a shot in the first round. The thing that really struck me about his round was the way that all of the putts that he missed finished just past the hole – he had the pace of the greens all the way round.
Storm also had the most difficult conditions in that he was playing in the heat of the day with the greens getting worn and spiked up. He said that his experience of playing in the steamy weather of Asia on the European Tour had been a huge benefit.
The man who thought his golfing days were over when he was working in a cake factory in 2002 also ditched the swing manual after a run of poor results in recent weeks – “I just thought ‘sod technique and just enjoy myself’,” he admitted.
It’s a good looking leaderboard from a European point of view. Open champion Padraig Harrington was round in 69 and seems to have confidence coursing his veins. Lee Westwood double bogeyed his penultimate hole but otherwise compiled an exemplary round that matched Harrington and beat Tiger Woods by two.
And Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia are nicely placed after level par 70’s. Garcia bogeyed his last two holes so was a tad frustrated. He said: “It’s not a bad round but it was a nice way of throwing a good round in the trash.”
But Garcia is well in the hunt as are so many of the big guns. Take Storm out the equation for a moment and there are 51 players within five shots of Daly’s 67.
Southern Hills media centre – Thursday 10.21pm BST…
What is the point? Why on earth do we travel the golfing world trying to convince ourselves that we know something about this game?
As one colleague commented, we thought this place would be all about the “survival of the fittest – not the fattest.”
John Daly shoots 67 ditching all the rules we thought you have to obey to have any chance of prospering in this heat.
Rule 1: Drink plenty of water – No “just drank diet coke all the way round.”
Rule 2: Be slim, lithe and fit, basically the well honed physique of Tiger Woods. John Daly? Enough said.
Rule 3: Do your preparation – No, he played slots at the Cherokee Casino instead.
Rule 4: Be familiar with the course – “No I didn’t have any practice rounds.”
Rule 5: Play the percentages – Nope, for example he decided to drive over the water on the 18th . “No one does that, what’s he thinking of?” cried a watching ex pro.
Daly duly made his par, tapping in for a three under par round that contained just one dropped shot and fourteen greens hit in regulation. The only consolation is that the man who has missed eight cuts and withdrawn from four more tournaments this season is as baffled as the rest of us. “I don’t know where that came from,” he admitted after his round.
Venturing out from the chill of the air conditioning is like that moment you open the fan-oven door and your glasses steam in the blast of heat.
So imagine how it must feel when it then all goes wrong on the course at your very first hole.
I’ve just seen poor-old Nick Dougherty starting his round, last out at 2.45pm local time off the tenth tee. No doubt the British youngster was brimful of excitement and anticipation – especially after finishing seventh at his last American major, the US Open.
That was until he drove into the right rough, waited for an age for the green staff to water the green, fired his second over the back, his third over the front, pitched 20 feet by and two putted for a six. It was going to be a long day – perhaps not quite as long as the one Angel Cabrera was contemplating after his 10 at the par 3 sixth.
Southern Hills media centre – Thursday 03.30pm BST…
It’s all about the weather. I know, I know, we’ve been banging on about it all week – but these are record breaking conditions. It’s hot, hot, hot – oh and we might get a thunderstorm today. What! No one mentioned anything about rain – until today’s forecast that is.
At least Bradley Dredge – the Welshman out first this morning ? is going to be well equipped. Like Monty he’s carrying an umbrella to get some shade as he wanders down the fairways. “I don’t much enjoy the heat,” Dredge told our Five Live reporter Andrew Cotter. “There’s not much of me and I struggle to hold on to my weight at the best of times so you have to do everything you can to try to keep cool. “My umbrella is black and I used it in practice and it does make a difference.” At least with a 7.30 am tee time Dredge was able to start in the coolest part of the day.
It was very, very pleasant as we arrived here – but the air conditioning is in overdrive at the moment and, would you believe it, I wish I’d brought a jumper!
On a separate issue what’s a digital picture frame? There’s now a fifteen-year-old tradition where the defending champion hosts a dinner for all past PGA Champions on the Tuesday of championship week. Not only is it dinner – the host and his wife supply presents for the guests as well. Tiger Woods went for an ipod that shows video highlights of the recipient’s PGA win, while Elin chose this digital picture frame thing for the wives. It came with a selection of photos of their husbands winning their title.
The 2002 champion Rich Beem approved. He said: “I think it was cool, this being the digital age.”
Cool……..just like the media centre.
Southern Hills media centre – Thursday 01.00am BST…
Don’t be alarmed by where I’m going with this one. As I’ve said, the media are housed in converted indoor tennis courts and the toilets are situated in the adjacent locker room.
I popped in this afternoon and brushed past a familiar looking figure. Only when I’d gone by did it register with me that it was Paul Azinger.
Just as I was about to use the facilities I heard: “Hey – I’m the next in line here,” and so there I was having to make way for the American Ryder Cup captain.
Moments later he was in the interview room announcing his three vice captains; Ray Floyd, Dave Stockton and Olin Browne.
Azinger will be tapping up his new appointments for advice in the build up to finalising his team for next September’s match.
“I’m going to lean on them to help me try to figure out who is playing best while we’re at the Ryder Cup and to help me with my (wildcard) picks because I’m going to get four instead of two,” Azinger said.
Meanwhile Colin Montgomerie was working out how he is going to combat the extreme heat over the next four days.
He’ll be carrying an umbrella to shield him from the fierce sun and was last seen heading to the barbers for a haircut that will “remove a little heat from my head”.
He firmly denied he was planning a skinhead. “No, no. Not at my age,” said the 44 year old.
Southern Hills media centre – Wednesday 9.00pm BST…
Rumours were abounding the media centre this morning that Sergio Garcia would duck his pre-tournament tete a tete with the press.
This would be his first public grilling since falling short at Carnoustie. He was due in at 10am and the appointed hour came and went without the Spaniard entering the converted indoor tennis courts that are our home this week.
“He doesn’t fancy it,” was the general feeling over why he hadn’t shown up. Then world came that he would be arriving at noon, but still the negative rumours persisted until the tannoy announced his arrival.
At that moment there was a surge to the interview room. Garcia had attracted the biggest audience of the week outside Tiger Woods.
He was at least talking a good game as he reflected on his Open defeat. “I was the only one that had the winning putt in regulation, and to me that means a lot,” he said.
He also revealed that his father had tears in his eyes when he greeted his son at the end of play and told him that “you did everything right, unfortunately it just wasn’t meant to happen.”
Garcia obviously would love to be able to hit that 8 foot putt to win once again, but interestingly he told me that he wouldn’t want the 72nd tee shot again.
Some have suggested he should have gone with a driver rather than his two-iron, but Garcia insists his was the right play. “A fraction to the right with my approach shot and I would have been on the green and champion,” he said.
Southern Hills media centre – Wednesday 17.05 BST…
Tiger Woods is suffering an identity crisis.
It has emerged that during his Southern Hills recce at the end of July the world number one was spotted in a Tulsa branch of Starbucks along with coach Hank Haney.
Woods ordered a pastry and non-fat hazelnut latte from the one employee who didn’t recognise him. So Tiger was asked to give his name while his ordered was being prepared.
Woods reply was: “Russell.”
“Yes, Tiger said his name was Russell,” confirmed branch manager Josiah Borgos.
“I couldn’t help but laugh. Tiger ate his pastry while we prepared his beverage.
“And then when his order was ready I called out the name ‘Russell’ twice and Tiger didn’t respond.
“So I called Tiger by his real name and he responded to that. He picked up the drink and he was gone.”
Borgos also confirmed that the employee who failed to recognise the world’s most famous athlete has a new nickname – they’re calling him…….Russell.
The excessive heat doesn’t seem to be adversely affecting Rory Sabbatini – golf’s most controversial figure at the moment.
During the final round of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational Sabbatini had a spectator removed after being bated about his comments that Tiger Woods is “beatable as ever.”
Yesterday the South African stood in the searing heat signing hundreds of autographs. “This is what I do every week, every practice round,” he said.
Woods, meanwhile, passed the crowds without appearing to sign any. He probably couldn’t remember his name.
Southern Hills media centre – Tuesday 10.30pm BST…
On top of the inevitable heat, the undulating Southern Hills course will add to the physical demands put on the players this week.
You’re aware of what’s in store from the first moment you set foot on the course. The first tee stands at the highest point and the hole heads steeply downhill from the tee to the fairway. It’s a spectacular start with the distant sky-scrapers of downtown Tulsa poking their heads above the tree-line.
In this respect the course flatters to deceive. There are too many rather anonymous par fours – pleasant enough, but not outstanding holes. Having said that, the 465-yard 18th is an excellent closer with a drive down to a flat area short of the creek at the corner of a left to right dog-leg. The hole climbs sharply uphill to a remodelled green.
It was restructured because when the US Open was played here in 2001 balls would have fallen off the front of the green had it been mown down to a standard USGA speed. The result was that the 18th green and the adjacent ninth were appreciably slower than the rest of the course – which helped account for Retief Goosen’s three putt that cost him outright victory and Stewart Cink’s inability to claim a place in the resultant play-off.
No such worries this year, with all 18 greens at a lightning quick and uniform pace. Tiger Woods welcomes this – as he does the heat. The world number one was incredulous at the suggestion that the high temperatures could mess with his concentration levels. Indeed everything that he says before a tournament is aimed at informing his rivals that he is ready to compete. Because he only finished 12th at the 2001 US Open at Southern Hills there’s a perception that the Great One is vulnerable on this course. But asked which of the 18 holes here particularly has him “licking his chops” his answer was straight to the point: “All of them,” he said – and I couldn’t help feeling he meant it.
Southern Hills media centre – Tuesday 5.30pm BST…
First impressions of Southern Hills? Hot! And this is supposed to be the coolest day of the week. There’s a relieving breeze so it’s only going to reach 98 degrees Fahrenheit. The rest of the week is going to be up in the 100s.
In fact the weather has been the dominant theme of the trip so far. We had to connect through Chicago yesterday where a massive thunderstorm grounded all flights. As a result we were stranded wondering if we were ever going to make it here. As it turned out we arrived at 1.30am – it had, as near as makes no difference, taken us 24 hours to get to Tulsa.
One of the traditions of any American Major week used to be that the first player into the interview room on a Tuesday would be Padraig Harrington. The Open Champion was on duty at 9am sharp but had been beaten to clocking in first by the Masters title-holder Zach Johnson.
Among the first points made to Harrington was that, “it’s been a few weeks since a European has won a Major – will you break the drought this week?” The Irishman smiled but seriously thinks his Open triumph will prove the catalyst for a string of European wins in the coming years. He said: “I believe we’re in a better place now than we were going into the Open.” Asked about any downside to being the Open champion Harrington said he hadn’t found one yet – while Johnson admitted that in the wake of his Masters win, “it was just overwhelming chaos at times.”
Johnson and Harrington will be paired with this year’s other Major champion Angel Cabrera for the first two rounds. They’ll have much to discuss about the pros and cons of Major stardom. Cabrera seems to have it sussed. Speak through an interpreter and reporters seem to be less bothered with you. Only 20 turned up for the Argentine’s pre-tournament press conference.