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The heat is on in toasty Tulsa, and there's no escape
As if dealing with a difficult course in major championship condition weren't tough enough, players at the 89th PGA Championship must handle an oppressive heat wave that is predicted to push temperatures above the 100-degree mark all week.
By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
TULSA -- Much like the Open Championship at Carnoustie a few weeks back, spectators attending the 89th PGA Championship at Southern Hills are likely to be toting umbrellas.
Only this time around, those umbrellas will be used to shield the sun, not the rain.
As if Southern Hills Country Club weren't tough enough with its rolling fairways, thick rough and ultra-slick greens, players and fans alike will also have to battle intense heat. As of Tuesday morning, the forecast for the four championship days (Thursday-Sunday) called for temperatures at or above 100 degrees, prompting an excessive-heat warning that will be in place through Sunday. Furthermore, both Thursday and Friday are predicted to have a heat index approaching 110 degrees.
It will be like playing golf in a steam room. When taking a deep breath outside, one can feel the thick, hot air run up through the nostrils. And when the wind blows, there's no relief. It's like standing in front of a fireplace.
"Dealing with the heat, yes, that's going to be of the utmost importance," Masters champion Zach Johnson said. "I've talked to some of my team members, if you will, as how to approach that. And I played last week and played decent at times and so I feel like my game's at a good point to come and play and compete this week.
"It's about staying hydrated, staying rested and now is the time to hydrate. I'm trying to drink as much water as possible even when I'm not thirsty. The forecast is hot every day. I don't think there's any rain, is there? So it's going to be not only a test of golf but also a physical test and a mental test."
Mark Calcavecchia, winner of the PODS Championship in March, admittedly isn't one for a strict training regimen. He played nine holes early on Tuesday before going to work on his short game.
"It's probably a little worse for me than it is for a lot of the other guys, just because I'm not in as good of shape as most everybody out here," said Calcavecchia, who was wearing a royal blue shirt that looked more like navy blue since it was drenched in sweat. "That's my own fault. But, I've played in the heat a lot. You just need to drink a lot of water, a lot of Gatorade, or whatever. I'll have my sweatbands on and hope for the best.
"I took yesterday off and I'm only going to play nine today and some short-game practice and then just nine tomorrow with some short-game practice and that's it," he continued. "I'm not going to beat myself to death playing practice rounds. I'll play early again tomorrow, just so I have a decent amount of energy going into Thursday."
Unlike Calcavecchia, Brett Quigley is thrilled about the sizzling temperatures.
"I love this heat. I've already played nine holes and I'm literally not even sweating," he said. "Everybody's talking about how hot it is, but that doesn't bother me. I love it. Love playing in heat like this and I think that'll be to my advantage this week. Certainly I'm looking forward to it."
Part of Quigley's training through the years has included hour-and-a-half power yoga sessions in a 95-degree room -- so he's no stranger to heat and humidity.
"It doesn't affect me at all. I think the biggest thing for everybody is to stay hydrated," Quigley said. "Guys are already struggling with the heat. I know it sounds stupid, but you just have to drink a lot of water and that's the bottom line. But, I feel like for me, the hotter the better."
Tiger Woods, the defending champion who is looking for his first major victory of 2007, isn't worried about the heat either.
"I just change gloves more often," he said. "That's about it. As far as your concentration waning, I don't see how that can ever be a problem."
Throughout the day Tuesday, spectators were looking for shade wherever they could find it -- under trees, under umbrellas and some along the edges of the enormous merchandise tent.
In fact, just outside the merchandise tent were huge mist fans, which several people were putting to good use.
Ireland's Padraig Harrington, who won his first major at the Open Championship last month, said while the heat will certainly be felt, it shouldn't be too much of a factor for the players.
"Maybe for some spectators but players-wise, certainly I played in hotter conditions and haven't had a problem," he said. "I see it as a factor to be looked after but not something that I'm in any way worried about. I would probably say it is a little bit of an advantage for me because I climatize well. I play quite a bit in Malaysia where we get quite a bit hotter and stickier than this. I don't see it as a real issue, just making sure I do the right things and take the right precautions."