Jim Huber, TNT's Emmy Award-winning announcer, is at the 85th PGA Championship serving as the network's feature essayist and lead interviewer. PGA.com spoke with Huber following the first round Thursday, and here are his thoughts of what unfolded at Oak Hill Country Club:
Phil Mickelson, we saw a different Phil Mickelson today than we�ve seen all year. What got into him?
Huber: He hit fairways, which he hasn�t been hitting all year. He even admitted to me when we were on the air for our post-round interview that he was surprised at his score. I know he had tried some things before The International that just weren�t working. He was hooking the ball, slicing, whatever he tried, he said it wasn�t working. But what he did today was he hit the fairway and he putted well, which is the key to playing well at any course, especially here. He�s riding high right now and he looks like he could break out of this major stuff. I really hope he does, for our sake and his.
After his round, Phil declined to come into the media center for his post-round news conference. Did you sense that he has a special focus about him or anything?
Jim Huber: He was as kind and as gracious as always. The one thing about Phil is he is as good in victory as he is in defeat, and sometimes even better in defeat because he has so much honor. Honesty is actually one of his shortcomings, in golf and in life. But I think he had a little look in his eye, a bit of jive, that he would like to win this tournament more than anything else in world.
What happened to Tiger today?
Jim Huber: Unlike Phil and unlike everybody else on the top of the leaderboard, his driver was so far off. And I sensed that he was losing patience. One of the great things about Tiger is his mental toughness. He�s always grinding and always fighting. But I don�t know if it was my imagination or what, but I sensed an almost futile look about him. It was a look that everything was going wrong and it was almost like he was giving up a little bit. Now, I know that definitely wasn�t the case. But nothing was working for him and it showed.
Can he recover and climb back into this thing?
Jim Huber: Sure, absolutely. But he had better start tomorrow.
What were your general impressions of Oak Hill? It sure beat up some people because we saw a bunch of 82s and 79s and the like.
Jim Huber: The course was exactly what we expected -� very tough. If you didn�t hit the fairway, you were in trouble, and if you didn�t putt well you were in trouble. Vijay (Singh) and Hank Kuehne, like a few others, drive the 14th green and make pars. The greens are very difficult to read. And the rough is so difficult to judge coming out of the stuff, if it comes out at all. You have to be so smart and so perfect. A lot of guys� temperaments and game aren�t committed to that or built that way.