I'm just in after a 2-under-par 70, and I'm feeling like it was a pretty good start. I didn't feel any pressure or nervousness at all until I got the 10-second call to the tee. (PGA Rules Official) Larry Startzel said, "Ten seconds," and all of a sudden my heart started beating for the first time all week.
It was a great relief. I hit a great drive down the first hole and it took a lot of pressure off. I stuck a wedge in there about three feet and made the putt and that eased things and got me down to just a rapid heartbeat.
I got it to 3 under, and I saw my cousin out there and made sure that he snapped a picture of the leaderboard, because you never know if you're going to get back there. Honestly, it didn't faze me in having my name up there. I understand that this is the PGA Championship, but to me it's just another golf tournament. I'm just trying my best to compete as well that I can and stay out of my own way. It was fun to stay up there (among the leaders) most of the day.
I hit a good drive at the 12th, and it came just after we crossed paths with Tiger, when he was going down 15, and that whole circus left the tee box, so I was a little bit nervous on that tee. I hit a great drive down the right side and had an 8-iron in and kind of held on to it a little bit. It wasn't a bad shot, and I had a real easy chip and I misjudged it. It didn't release the way I wanted it to.
It was a good day for par saves. I made several today, including on 18, where I hit a so-so drive (right) and a decent second shot that rolled over the green. Kevin (Nascimetno, his stepson/caddie) and I hit about 20 chips there from behind the green the other day with a lot of different clubs, 3-woods, rescues, 5, 6, 7-irons, wedges, trying to figure out what the right shot was. So, I knew what to expect, took out a 5-iron and bumped it up there and the putt (8 feet) was pretty nice. Over the years, my short game has been one of the stronger parts of my game.
People ask me about the 36-hole cut, but I don't think about it, and I'm not interested in what it will be. My goal is the same it always has been, and that is to have a good time. Obviously, playing well today makes things a little bit better. Tomorrow, I'm just going to try to use the same game plan, and if I make the cut, great. If not, it's been a good week already.
If this was the New York State Open or Met Open, maybe I would have pressed harder to try to get my name higher on the leaderboard. But, out here, I just enjoyed seeing my name up there and relished it.
I didn't see or hear any of the crowds today. As long as you can let Tiger's entourage go through, it's not hard to concentrate after you have seen that.
Kevin did a great job of reading greens today, and he's not a golfer. That kind of surprises me that he has such a good eye on the greens. Not bad for a tennis player. Last year was his first year as caddie, and he caddied for me three times. He's done one already this year, and then this week. His rate's going up back home.
Here I am a club professional back east, and you don't know if you are going to come out here and shoot 78. And honestly, you shoot 74, 75 or 76 out here, that's probably pretty good for a club professional. So, when I got it to 3-under, I looked at Kevin and said, "We can play with these guys." The hardest part for a guy like me is blocking out the distractions. The easy part for these guys (Tour professionals) is that they do it week in and week out. They feel out here like I do back home - comfortable and it's not a big deal.
My typical routine after competition is to go home, turn out the lights, close the shades and get some sleep. Being a club professional, you work a lot of hours and you get pretty tired.
I'm going to have some lunch, spend some time on the short game and go home for awhile, then come back here. I plan doing a little more practice just to keep the feel alive. I'm ready for tomorrow, and we're a little later in the day to the tee (12:15 p.m. CT).
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