Notebook: Browne opens his PGA with a slam-dunk ace
Plus, Colin Montgomerie and Thomas Bjorn are just two Europeans off to struggling starts, Jerry Haas won his brotherly battle Thursday, Ernie Els suffers a loss, a record number of players were below par at benign Medinah, and more.
MEDINAH, Ill. -- Olin Browne scored a hole-in-one with a 6-iron from 191 yards on the 17th hole of the PGA Championship on Thursday.
His ball cracked off the flagstick in the air and fell right into the cup. After slapping hands with playing partners Daniel Chopra and Sean O'Hair as well as their caddies, Browne let out a loud cheer for himself.
It was Browne's third ace in a PGA Tour event. He also had one on No. 12 at the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and on No. 11 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., during the 2001 U.S. Open.
It was the 36th hole-in-one at the PGA Championship since 1970. Charles Howell III had one at Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J., last year.
EUROPEAN STRUGGLES: Colin Montgomerie, so close to glory on his last trip to America, needs to find some inspiration somewhere on Friday if he wants to avoid a third missed cut in the majors this season. For the second year running, the 43-year-old Scot began the PGA Championship with a 77. This time it left him down in 138th place out of 156.
He probably needs a 67 to stay alive in the event, or he will be clearing out the locker normally used by basketball legend Michael Jordan and heading home.
But Montgomerie, who would have been the U.S. Open champion and been paired with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson if he had parred rather than double-bogeyed the final hole at Winged Foot in June, was not the worst of the European contingent after the opening round.
Thomas Bjorn, very emotional at the prayer service held in memory of Darren Clarke's wife Heather before play began on Thursday, crashed to an 80. So did England's Nick Dougherty, for whom an eighth straight missed cut would mean an end to his hopes of a Ryder Cup debut next month.
A QUAD OPENING: Brett Wetterich is 10th in the Ryder Cup standings, and he was eager to play well in the PGA Championship to secure his spot on the team. He got off to a great start Thursday, 4-under-par through 11 holes and tied for the lead.
But it all came undone on two holes.
First, Wetterich made a quadruple-bogey 8 on the 12th hole to slip back to even par. After trading a birdie and a bogey, he made another quadruple-bogey on the par-3 17th and shot 76.
Barring a strong second round, chances of making the cut are slim.
His Ryder Cup chances are certainly less, too, especially after three players behind him in the standings -- Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink and Davis Love III -- made strong starts Thursday.
Still, Wetterich could make the team even without making the cut. The last time the PGA Championship was played at Medinah, Jeff Maggert was 10th in the standings and missed the cut, then narrowly made the team when Bob Estes stumbled on the closing holes.
MORE TRAGEDY: Ernie Els was the latest player to cope with a loss in the family this week.
Els learned that his father-in-law, Piet Wehmeyer, died in Cape Town, South Africa, on Wednesday after a short illness at age 87.
His wife, Liezl, left Chicago for the 16-hour flight home.
Els shot 71 on Thursday and headed straight to the practice green. Spokesman Mark Bell kept a reporter away and said Els would speak on Friday.
BROTHERLY LOVE: Jerry Haas won round No. 1 of the Haas brother match-up.
The younger brother of tour veteran Jay Haas shot a 2-over 74 in the first round of the PGA Championship, beating his brother by a shot. The two were paired together Thursday, the first time brothers have competed together in the PGA Championship since Lanny and Bobby Wadkins in 1995.
Jay Haas is nearly 10 years older than Jerry and had to be the favorite in the match-up because he is playing in his 27th PGA Championship and is the reigning Senior PGA Champion. Jerry Haas is the golf coach at Wake Forest and earned a spot in the field by finishing in the top 20 in the PGA Professional National Championship.
The two putted out on the final hole and then gave each other a hug instead of the traditional handshake to end the round.
BAD SIGN?: In what might not be a good sign for first-round co-leaders Lucas Glover and Chris Riley, the leading score after the first round at Medinah in 1999, the last time the PGA Championship was held at this venue, was 6-under 66. Sergio Garcia posted it and came in second to Tiger Woods.
GOING LIKE SIXTY: The 60 players who broke par in the opening round was a record number at the PGA Championship. The most prior to Thursday was 58 in the second round of the 1995 PGA Championship at Riviera.
HOLE BY HOLE: The easiest hole in Thursday's opening round was the 537-yard, par-5 fifth, which played to a stroke average of 4.62. The most difficult hole in round one was the 453-yard, par-4 16th, which played to an average of 4.33.
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