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Maginnes: It's not easy being a Storm in a tempest
PGATOUR.com's John Maginnes says we should take it easy on first-round leader Graeme Storm, who tumbled down the PGA Championship leaderboard Friday after struggling to a 76. After all, sometimes center stage is the cruelest position to be in.
By John Maginnes, PGATOUR.com Contributor
TULSA, Okla. -- The headlines are too easy this week.
Afternoon Storm Blows Out. Storms Rarely Last Four Days. Can a Graeme Handle the Weight of a Major? Is it Just a Daly Storm? How Many Days for Daly? Ames Steals Storm's Thunder.
The media center is packed with witty wordsmiths whose prose has the ability to elevate and shatter careers at will. They would argue that they only report. But facts are to be interpreted and statistics rarely tell the whole story. We rely on members of the media to give us more than the facts. We want their take on things. We want to know what they think. In my youth, if Walter Cronkite said it was so, it was so. Today, if Bill O'Reilly or Michael Moore says that it is so, I am suspicious.
I am now a full-fledged member of this group of sports media whose pen and voice have roots in the golfing conscious. Granted, my voice isn't as loud as some and my musings have a relatively small audience. But I have to admit to participating in the amusing banter when the unknowns like Graeme Storm do something that the rest of us don't even dare to dream. The anticipation of his demise is not without precedent.
Many players have jumped unaided into the deep end. Michael Bradley opened the 1995 PGA Championship with a 63. The overnight leader went on to finish tied for 54th in a tournament that was ultimately won by Steve Elkington. However, Michael used that experience to his benefit and became a multiple winner on the PGA TOUR in the following two years.
Mike Weir shared center stage in the final round with Tiger Woods in the 1999 PGA at Medinah. Mike shot 80 in the final round to drop to 10th. Thirteen majors later, Mike was a Masters Champion.
It didn't take that long for Stephen Ames. In 2005, Stephen opened the PGA Championship with a 67 to take a share the 18-hole lead. He failed to break par the rest of the week and fell all the way to a tie for 72nd place. Less than a year later, he was THE PLAYERS champion.
It is unlikely that Graeme Storm will hold on and contend late into the weekend. His rise and fall is reminiscent of another Englishman, Kenneth Ferrie, at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot a year ago. For part of Saturday, Kenneth held the outright lead before falling to a tie for sixth at week's end. That was only the second cut Kenneth had made in a major.
The 89th PGA Championship marks the second cut made in a major for Graeme Storm, as well. The logical progression for players is to get themselves into position in majors numerous times before they break through. Phil Mickelson had 17 top-10 finishes before finally winning the Masters in 2004. David Duval had eight top-10s before winning the 2001 British Open. More recently, Sergio Garcia's runner-up finish in the British Open this year was his 13th top-10 in a major. Perhaps the next one will be lucky No. 14.
Like all rules, there are exceptions. John Daly, Rich Beem and Shaun Micheel had never finished in the top-10 in a major when they etched their names on the Wanamaker Trophy. Ben Curtis had never played in a major before capturing the Claret Jug at Royal St. George's in 2003.
There are few people who can claim to have ever held the lead after dark on any day in a major championship. Some of those names own careers that have fallen into obscurity. Perhaps we shouldn't judge Graeme Storm and those who came before him too harshly. Having played in a handful of majors and never sniffing the top of the leaderboard, perhaps I give these guys too much respect. As my old caddie used to say, if it was easy everyone would do it.
I have, however, fired my share of 76s on the biggest stage -- the same score Graeme Storm had on Friday