It's Woods again at Hazeltine
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2009 US PGA Championship | Round One | 14 Aug 2009
Play on day one of the 2009 USPGA Championship at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska Minnesota is over and there are no prizes for guessing the first round leader.
In the perfect scoring conditions that presented themselves early today, Tiger Woods took up where he left off at last week’s Bridgestone Invitational by producing an opening round of five under par 67. In doing so he established a one shot lead over his playing partner and defending champion, Padraig Harrington.
The top of the leaderboard at the end of day one play was almost a replica of last Sunday’s leader-board in Akron, Woods leading over Harrington with Robert Allenby amongst those sharing third place at three under. That trio had finished first and tied for second last week.
Also tied with Allenby are Hunter Mahan, Alvaro Quiros, David Toms, Mathew Goggin and Vijay Singh.
Most of the good scoring had come early. With a slightly stiffer breeze and greens that became a little less predictable late in the day, those out in the afternoon faced a slightly more demanding test although in the overall scheme of things this was a good opening day in terms of fairness to all.
Woods was delighted with the way he played.
“Hank (Haney) and I did some good work the last three days, and I felt very comfortable with what I was doing today. Really good round today, hit a lot of good putts that just lipped out and hit the edges. It could have been a really good round today.”
“This golf course, the way it was set up today, Kerry did just a great job because the longer holes like 12 and 13, they moved them up and played them, I mean, Rich was hitting I think 3-wood into 12; and I laced a 3-iron in there, and that’s from the back tee and I’m hitting 3-wood in there.”
“I think he did a great job. The great thing about having a golf course this long is that it gives you an opportunity to move the tees around, it depends on where the wind is coming from and they just did a great job of setting it up. It was fair but it was tough. If you make a mistake, you’re going to pay your price and you’re going to make bogeys.”
Harrington was pleased with the continuation of the form reversal he displayed last week and explained the reasons for the turnaround.
“What’s really the difference between now and maybe the first six months of the year, I’ve been trying to sort something out with my swing and I couldn’t get to the bottom of it. I couldn’t figure out what it was. About six weeks ago, I got clarity in that. It doesn’t mean I got it in my swing at the moment, but I had clarity, so it’s eased my mind and my mind can now focus on the important things of getting the golf ball in the hole.”
Allenby also had the benefit of the smoother greens and the great morning conditions but it is one thing to have those conditions and another to take advantage of them. Allenby continued on from his great week last week and when he birdied the 14th to go 4 under for the day he had the lead. A double bogey at the 15th cost him the chance to lead at the end of day one but he did recover with a birdie at the 16th.
“I guess I’m very happy with the way I played today,” said Allenby. “You know, it’s always nice to get away to a good start in a major, and you know, I played solid all day. It was only 15 that I came undone on and I didn’t hit that bad a tee shot. It was going down the left side. It was only just going to miss the fairway, and plugged it in the face of the fairway trap, which doesn’t happen very often.”
“But obviously they have put a lot of sand in that spot there, and I could only advance it just a little ways down the fairway. I still couldn’t reach the green and then made a little bit of a mess up around the green. But I bounced back really nicely on 16 with a birdie there, so you know, I’m very happy with 3-under.”
Hunter Mahan’s great run of form continued with his opening round of 69 despite a bogey at the last.
“I just gotta keep doing what I’m doing right now, said Mahan. "I can’t ask to swing any better.
“I feel real comfortable on this golf course. Everything feels good. I have to keep doing what I’m doing right now and keep a good head about me.”
Goggin was another happy with his start to continue on with his 5th placing at the recent British Open.
“Yeah, I’ve had a good weekend last week and feel comfortable with all parts of my game, so it’s been a good continuation of last week I feel.”
The next best of the 15 Australasians in the field are Brendan Jones and Geoff Ogilvy, who both recovered from slow starts for rounds of one under 71. Nathan Green is at even par, Michael Sim and John Senden at 1 over, Rod Pampling and Stuart Appleby at 2 over, Richard Green, David Smail and Steve Elkington at 3 over, Aaron Baddeley at 4 over, Michael Campbell at 8 over and Adam Scott a disastrous 10 over.
26 players broke par on day one and the cut at this stage appears as if it might fall around the 2 or 3 over mark subject to the conditions tomorrow.