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Second round: Ready, first-timers?
The cut has been made, and there are more than a few big, major-winning names sticking around to see the weekend at Oakland Hills, but that's not all. The PGA Championship has long been first-timer friendly, and this year seems to be no exception as the leaderboard fills up with guys going for their first big one.
By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- No major championship has extended the olive branch to first-time major winners like the PGA Championship.
In all, 44 players have made the PGA Championship their first major title, including 28 in the stroke-play era which began 50 years ago. Shaun Micheel was the last to do so at Oak Hill in 2003, making it a hat-trick in that department, as he followed David Toms in 2001 at Atlanta Athletic Club and Rich Beem in 2002 at Hazeltine.
At Oakland Hills for this week's 90th edition of the PGA Championship, the first-timer theme might be back after a five-year hiatus.
A fine list of names splashes the first page of the leaderboard, but aside from a couple of usual suspects, it's far from a major championship who's who.
J.B. Holmes owns the top spot at the halfway point after a 2-under 68 in the second round moved him to 1-under 139 total, which was a shot better than Charlie Wi, 2003 Open Champion Ben Curtis and Justin Rose. Curtis and Rose matched each other with tournament-best 3-under 67s beneath cloudless blue skies on Friday.
Two shots behind Holmes at 1 over were Toms and Henrik Stenson.
"I'm hitting the ball real well," said Holmes, who won the FBR Open for the second time in his career earlier this season. "If I get the putter going, make a few more putts -- if I can hit it like I did today, I really felt like I almost shot the highest score I could have shot today; I hit the ball that well."
There are a bunch of players just three shots off the pace at 2-over 142
-- 2007 U.S. Open winner Angel Cabrera, Brandt Snedeker, Jeev Milkha Singh, Aaron Baddeley, Ken Duke, Sergio Garcia and Sean O'Hair.
The 36-hole cut fell at 8-over 148, with 73 players surviving for the weekend. Among those? Three-time major winner Phil Mickelson. Lefty is just four off the mark at 3 over along with fan favorites Boo Weekley and Paul Goydos, among others.
This thing is more wide open than the Grand Canyon.
The only thing we know at this point is that Oakland Hills is living up to its billing as, "The Monster." Friday?s scoring average was 74.845, or nearly five strokes over par.
Obviously par is your best friend in majors, but it?s almost excessive this week. Which is why it's surprising to see an aggressive player like Holmes at the top. He's one of the longest hitters on TOUR, which usually doesn't add up to the most accurate. So far, he's stayed out of harm's way at Oakland Hills -- and there's a lot of harm to be done, be it deep bunker or ankle-swallowing rough.
"I'm not that aggressive if I'm not hitting my driver good," Holmes said. "If I'm hitting bad shots with it, you don't hit it as much. Every time you hit it, you hit it right where you've looked, whale away."
What can we expect in the third round?
"I think that it gets more difficult in the afternoon, so the leaders are going to have a harder time tomorrow," Mickelson said, following his 3-over 73 in the second round. "As the greens get firmer or crustier and bumpier, and the ball doesn't check, and you can't hit it firm enough, all of the guys who are in the lead and the top half of the field will have a tougher course tomorrow afternoon."
Naturally, the major winners will have to be considered the favorites for the weekend
-- Curtis, Toms, Mickelson and Cabrera. Garcia is always a player to watch, and the world of golf is itching for him to snag that elusive major. His experience in winning THE PLAYERS Championship in May might be enough to help him get over the top at Oakland Hills.
"It's a hard course," said Garcia, who is 43-and-0 in majors. "It's very difficult, and this is a major. It's not supposed to be easy. We're pushed to the limit, but things can happen at any time. So I just hope that I got rid of my bad moments today, and, hopefully, I can have a good weekend and have a chance on Sunday."
If the big names can't get it done, the PGA Championship will happily welcome another first-time winner to the club, and have his name inscribed on the Wanamaker Trophy.
Experience might be everything in majors, but as we've learned at the PGA Championship over the years -- and have been reminded again this week -- it isn't always the only thing.
|EASIEST HOLE||TOUGHEST HOLE|
|The par-5, 529-yard second was the easiest with a Friday scoring average of 4.6913. Eagles: 7 | Birdies: 114 | Pars: 159 | Bogeys: 159 | Others: 1||The par-4, 498-yard 18th was the toughest with a Friday scoring average of 4.6688. Eagles: 0 | Birdies: 11 | Pars: 122 | Bogeys: 146 | Others: 32|
|ROUND OF THE DAY||SHOT OF THE DAY|
|The 3-under 67 by Ben Curtis. So far, Curtis' 67 is the best round of the week. The 2003 Open Champion had one bogey and four birdies on the day. Justin Rose later matched his 67.||Sean O'Hair got some help from the golf gods today. His tee shot on the 197-yard par-3 third landed about 20 feet away, sat still for 20 seconds and then rolled to within inches of the pin.|
|What the leaders said...|
|J.B. Holmes||1||1 under||"I played great. I hit the ball well. I left a few putts out there, but overall, it was a very good ball-striking round is probably the best way to describe it."|
|Charlie Wi||T2||E||"Playing on the PGA TOUR prepared me for this week. I played well because I've been playing well, so it's getting better every week. I know a lot of the guys and it just feels like another PGA TOUR event."|
|Ben Curtis||T2||E||"I think I've proven that I can play out here. To me, that's all that matters. Because if you sit here and think about winning another major, I'll be thinking about it for the rest of my life. I mean, just, you know, I don't have to do that. I don't have to prove it to anybody but myself."|
READ FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS:
Holmes | Wi | Curtis | Harrington | Rose | Full archive
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I've got to think it's got to be right up there with the best round I've played all year. I think it is the round of the year for sure. It's the kind of round I've been looking for to get myself back on the leaderboard and feeling the good vibes." -- Justin Rose after his second round of 3-under 67, which tied him for low-round-of-the-week honors with Ben Curtis
ON THE RISE
David Toms hasn't missed a cut in 11 starts, dating back to the PODS Championship. The consistency of playing on weekends is certainly nice since it means you're cashing checks, but a multiple TOUR winner with a major championship on his resume is always looking for more.
Along those lines, Toms might just be finding more this week at Oakland Hills Country Club.
The 2001 PGA Champion fired a 1-under 69 on Friday. That along with a 72 in the first round put Toms at 1 over through 36 holes and right in the thick of things for the weekend. "I played a great round of golf today," said Toms, who had four birdies and three bogeys on Friday.
"I hit some good shots, and when I didn't, I recovered well, I hung in there. I knew it was going to be tough right from the first hole, and I just hung in there all day, and I hit some really good bunker shots around the greens, capitalized on a couple of good iron shots that I hit in.
"Just had a good solid day," he continued. "One of those days in a major championship where you just grind it out."
NOT SO TRADITIONAL RIGHT NOW
The PGA Championship has been American territory in the majors for a long time, but there are a number of international flags in the upper echelons of the leaderboard heading into the weekend. Will this year bring another non-American name into the red-white-and-blue list of names in PGA Championship history?
It's far too soon to tell, but in case you're wondering, here's a look at how America and other countries rank in victories at the PGA Championship.
|Leading countries in PGA Championship history|
|Country||Rank at PGA||No. of PGA wins||No. of other major wins|
|USA||1||78||175 (55 Masters, 79 U.S. Opens, 41 British Opens)|
|Australia||2||4||11 (2 U.S. Opens, 9 British Opens)|
|England*||3||3||38 (3 Masters, 7 U.S. Opens, 28 British Opens)|
|Fiji||T4||2||1 (1 Masters)|
|South Africa||T4||2||17 (4 Masters, 5 U.S. Opens, 8 British Opens)|
|Zimbabwe||T4||2||1 (1 British Open)|
SO LONG, PRO
One of the neat things that makes the PGA Championship different
from the other three majors is the fact that 20 PGA
Club Professionals -- the guys that give lessons at your local club -- are in the field.
|5||The number of times a PGA Champion has won the tournament at even par or worse.|
|32||The number of years since the last time a player won the PGA Championship with a score of even par or worse (Dave Stockton, 1 over in 1976).|
|1||The number of bogeys made by Ben Curtis in the second round, which was five less than he made in the first round.|
Club Professionals earn their spot at the season's final major by finishing among the top 20 at the PGA Professional National Championship. While all of them make a spirited effort to earn a weekend tee time, the fact is that a cut-made is a bit much to ask from guys who make their living doing pretty much everything related to golf without playing it.
One such PGA
Club Professional is David Long. Director of Golf at The Country Club at Woodmore in Bowie, Md., Long earned his spot at Oakland Hills by finishing in a tie for 10th at the National Championship.
The 41-year-old, playing in the PGA Championship for the first time, missed the cut after rounds of 80-82 for a 22-over-par total.
"It's amazing to have even gotten a chance to play in this in the first place," Long said. "There's a lot of qualifying, as you know, to get to this point. So the whole ride has been great, and everybody that I ran into has always said, just enjoy the moment. I don't do this for a living -- these guys do. I still have a job to go home to, I hope. But everybody, the players I played with every day, practice rounds, tournament rounds, all said that they were well aware of how hard and how we have to qualify to get to this point. We definitely have game, too, in a different way. It was a great experience, emotionally, physically, still a great experience and something that I'll never forget."
Now that's some perspective.
THREE THINGS TO LOOK FOR ON SATURDAY...
1. The play of Ben Curtis and Justin Rose. Curtis is a proven major winner, while Rose has knocked on the door before. Both players fired outstanding 3-under 67s on Friday. Can they follow that up with another great round on Saturday?
2. Be aware of Henrik Stenson. The tall Swede has had a rather quiet year (by his standards), which is appropriate seeing as he's quietly played himself near the top of the leaderboard with rounds of 71-70. Stenson tied for third at the Open Championship and has seven other top 10s this season. Could this be his major coming-out party?
3. Look out for David Toms, too. The 2001 PGA Champion hasn't been in contention in a long time. His last win on TOUR came at the first full-field event in January of 2006 -- the Sony Open in Hawaii. That's a little over 2 1/2 years since his last win. But, he's positioned himself at Oakland Hills and his major experience should prove to be invaluable on the weekend.