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Friday, August 8, 2014

That Way Lies Madness

The first day of a major is usually a bit atypical -- unexpected names pop up on the leaderboard, one or two storylines show up that we've pretty much forgotten by the end of the weekend, etc. It's happened so much that, in some twisted way, we've learned to expect the unexpected.

But Thursday at the PGA was just a bit too weird for my tastes.

Rory in bunker

Granted, there were some things we expected. For example:
  • Rory played well but streaky -- a stretch of bad play sandwiched between two stretches of very good play.
  • Tiger played a bit worse than we expected after Wednesday's practice, but we didn't expect anything spectacular because he hasn't had much preparation time.
  • We had some of the customary unexpected players at the top. While guys like Kevin Chappell and Edoardo Molinari are definitely good players, we wouldn't expect them at the top of the leaderboard on the first day.
However... after that, things got a bit weirder than usual:
  • Although Luke Donald struggled down the stretch, he (-1), Ian Poulter (-3), and Lee Westwood (-6, tied for the lead) suddenly started playing like they wanted to get on the Ryder Cup team!
  • Matt Kuchar had to withdraw before the round with back problems, while Jason Dufner was forced to WD after 10 holes from his back problems. That's two potentially big hits to the American Ryder Cup team, especially since Duff has no idea when he'll be able to play again.
  • Jim Furyk (-5) and Tom Watson (+1) played extremely well at Valhalla despite being relatively short hitters on a long course.
  • Jason Day posted -2 despite some serious health struggles this year. I certainly didn't expect that!
  • And while Henrik Stenson posted better than he has this year (-4) and Rickie Fowler once again put up a good score (-2), a number of players I expected to do better didn't. Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Rose, Sergio, Bubba and Martin Kaymer could do no better than -1; Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott could do no better than E. Charl Schwartzel, Graeme McDowell, Ryan Moore and Keegan Bradley didn't even break par.
What's going on here?

Granted, we've only seen one day of play. Granted, once the draw has been flipped today, things could turn on their heads. And granted, bad weather is predicted for today and possibly the rest of the tournament. I'll grant you all of that.

Still, this is shaping up to be one strange major. But given that the whole year has been a bit weird -- after all, it's the Tour's first wraparound season -- I guess I really shouldn't be surprised.

I wonder if I'll be more surprised when today's round is done?

1 comment:

  1. Will Gray tweeted Kudos to club pro Johan Kok, who followed a 78 with a 67. Still missed the cut, but only beaten by Day & Fowler today and tied Rory.

    Bob Denney tweeted "It makes me hungry to keep my golf game back up in shape." PGA Club Prof Johan Kok. @jkgolf18 who eagled 18 for a 67, matching @McIlroyRory