Grant Me This: Not the usual script unfolding at Medinah
Love was in the air Thursday at the 88th PGA Championship, but on Friday it was filled with heavy humidity and cast of characters not known for major heroics. Who will take the lead role at Medinah come Sunday is anyone's guess.
Fez Watch 2006 continues. I've been at Medinah for four days now and have yet to see any of those little red velvet hats, not unlike the one Will Ferrell's character wore in the original Austin Powers movie.
Medinah Country Club was built in the mid-1920s by the Shriners, a somewhat mysterious organization which, from what I've ascertained this week, is dedicated to philanthropy and riding little motorcycles down Main Street. The Shriners I've met here at Medinah want you to know they're just a bunch of fun-loving guys who had nothing to do with The DaVinci Code or Tom Hanks' quasi-mullet in the movie.
Friday was a bad hair day for almost everyone as intermittent showers and general stickiness morphed Medinah into a 700-acre humidor. There was no 36-hole cigar for Tiger Woods, but he did get close to the lead with a second-round 68 that put him one back of the leaders going into the weekend.
It's too early to hand Woods the Wanamaker Trophy, though one guy's already tried. Tiger's tee shot at the first hole appeared headed into the tree line before a fan reached up and swatted the ball back into play. In fact, the first and last shots of Woods' second round may have been the most important. That blocked shot helped Tiger save par at the first; a 20-foot birdie at the last left him 7 under at halftime.
Phil Mickelson also birdied the last hole but spent most of the day looking like one of those motorcycling Shriners riding around in a figure eight. He opened with six straight pars but made just three more the rest of the round in a five-birdie, four-bogey 71 that looked a lot more like the pre-major Mickelson than the one who's won three of the last 11. Still, Phil begins the weekend just four back.
And it's not exactly the Monsters of the Midway protecting the lead. Henrik Stenson, Billy Andrade, Luke Donald, and Tim Herron have fewer PGA Tour wins combined, 10, than Tiger has majors. Stenson, Donald, and Herron certainly weren't among the top picks this week, but at least all three have won somewhere this year. Andrade was pretty much the doody in the office pool, having last earned a Tour title in 2000. And he wasn't even in the field 'til Steve Elkington withdrew. Tuesday, he was at the movies with his wife in Atlanta; today, Andrade has a lead role at the PGA Championship. The script in majors generally call for guys in his position to buckle under the pressure. The last alternate to win a major was John Daly in 1991. We'll see if Andrade can rewrite the final act.
Davis Love III had a cameo as the championship leader on Thursday before tripling the 17th and settling for a 68. It looked like Love didn't know his lines early Friday when he bogeyed three holes in a row. But he rallied for a 69 that had him tied with Tiger and Geoff Ogilvy at -7.
The guys at 6 under included Fred Funk, who played the role of Mini-Me when he was paired with Tiger in the final round of the 2002 PGA, even putting a pinky to his lips that day in a dead-on impersonation of Dr. Evil's little buddy. Will Funk ever grow up? Having turned 50 in June, his AARP membership entitled him to a couple of extra majors this summer, the U.S. Senior Open and the Ford Senior Players. When Woods won four straight Grand Slam events, they called it the Tiger Slam. What would it be if Fred won the six he played? The Grand Funk, of course.
There are plenty of reasons why the guys at minus-6 shouldn't win this weekend. Funk's too old. Chris Riley's too far down in the World Golf Rankings (327th). Billy Mayfair's too tired from cancer surgery two weeks ago. And David Toms' too rickety with a bad back that kept him out of the Open Championship. In fact, take a look at Toms' 2006 major championship record:
The Masters -- MC (Missed Cut)
U.S. Open -- W/D (Withdrew)
British Open -- DNP (Did Not Play)
When your finishes in majors are listed with letters instead of numbers, you know it's been a rough year.
But there's also no reason why anyone who made the cut couldn't win come Sunday. The 70 players who'll tee it up over the weekend are separated by only eight shots. Someone coming from that far back to win might even get a parade. And I know just the people to give it.
Grant Boone is a husband, father, golf broadcaster, and sports journalist based in Abilene, Texas. His column appears on PGA.com each Wednesday and every day during major championships and other big events. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views and opinions expressed here do not reflect those of PGA.com or The PGA of America.