By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
Email your question or comment to T.J. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to Glory's Last Shot, the season's final major, the 92nd PGA Championship here at the breathtaking Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.
Last year's live, running blog from Hazeltine was so much fun I've decided to take one for the team and take the tough assignment yet again. You're welcome, guys.
If you're looking simply for scores and stats, then folks, this blog isn't for you. If, instead, you want you to sit back and relax from the comfort of your own home -- or, in most cases, your cubicle -- and let me take you to Whistling Straits to see the PGA Championship through my eyes, then you're in the right place.
Armed with an iPhone and a nifty little pedometer to track my steps along the abundant Whistling Straits acreage that winds its way around the shores of Lake Michigan, I will be reporting live from the course throughout the tournament to relay to you what it is that I'm seeing, hearing, thinking and feeling -- which will probably be sore as I trek through the hills and valleys of this Pete Dye masterpiece. Hopefully I won't fall down, which can't be said for a number of poor souls I've already seen take some nasty spills this week.
Finally, if you'd like to send me an email, feel free to hit me up at email@example.com.
Your email might make the blog!7:15 p.m. CDT --
It was a disappointing bogey on the final hole of the day for Nick Watney, but with a 6-under 66 this evening, he'll happily take a three-shot lead at 13 under into the final round of the 92nd PGA Championship.
It seems as though Watney has been working his way toward a major victory for some time now. He has seventh-place finishes at both the Masters and the U.S. Open in 2010, which leads you to believe the next logical step is to win a major.
Then, of course, there's Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy. For starters, you have to wonder how Johnson will bounce back after that devastating final-round 82 at Pebble Beach in the U.S. Open, which costs him a major. Will it be less nerve-wracking for Johnson to play from behind?
As for McIlroy, he already has one big win on the PGA Tour when he blitzed the field in the final round at Quail Hollow with a 62. This, of course, would be the biggest victory of the 21-year-old's life.
No matter what happens, with ideal conditions forecasts yet again, we can expect a thrilling final round at Whistling Straits. And, best of all, we're back on schedule!6 p.m. CDT --
This must be the coming-out party for the young guns at a major. Nick Watney is continuing to put on a clinic out here and is 6 under for the day, 13 under for the tournament, and has a three-shot cushion over Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy with Martin Kaymer, Jason Day and Jim Furyk among those lurking four shots back at 9 under.
Whistling Straits is as defenseless as its been all week and the players are taking advantage. It's hard to believe, but this major championship is turning into a birdie-fest.
The best part if it all is that Sunday's forecast calls for the best conditions we've had all week with temperatures not expected to get much above 80. It should make for a great shootout.
At this point, players can't make enough birdies out there.5:25 p.m. CDT --
What a round for Liang! A bogey-free 8-under 64 gives him the course record at Whistling Straits, breaking by one the previous mark of 65 set by Darren Clarke in the 2004 PGA Championship.
Liang didn't make it easy on himself, either. From the middle of the fairway on No. 9 -- his final hole of the afternoon -- Liang sent his approach shot sailing way out to the right and into some heavy rough.
Miraculously, hacked his ball out and poured in a 15-foot par putt and is currently tied for second place at 9 under, three shots behind Watney.4:55 p.m. CDT --
Wen-Chong Liang from Zhongshan, China, is making a amazing surge at Whistling Straits. I thought this place was supposed to be tough!
Liang, 32, who has one European Tour victory to his credit, has eight birdies in the third round through 16 holes and is just two shots off the lead at 9 under.
Here's a little about Liang from his player guide profile:
When he made his entry into the professional world, Liang possessed an unorthodox golf swing where he had a baseball swing type follow through. However, he has since refined his game in recent years to good effect under the guidance of Australian coach Kel Llewellyn. Grew up in Zhongshan, home of China’s first modern-day golf course in the 1980s. Introduced to the game at school when he was 16. Got married in 2005 and welcomed the arrival of his first child as well in the same year. Has been given the mantle as China's flag bearer on the international scene by his mentor, Zhang Lian-wei.
Interesting stuff. Could Liang be channeling Y.E. Yang and become the second Asian-born player to win the PGA Championship in as many years?4:20 p.m. CDT --
After finding a little bit of trouble on No. 8, Watney made his first bogey in 20 holes and broke up a string of three consecutive birdies. He's at 11 under now while Dustin Johnson is creeping up the leaderboard and only two back after a birdie on No. 10 to get to 9 under.
By the way, look out for Rory McIlroy. The young Ulsterman is quickly gaining a reputation as a major threat, based on his tie for 10th at the 2009 U.S. Open and a tie for third at the 2009 PGA Championship and 2010 British Open.
Right now, McIlroy is 3 under for the day and 8 under for the tournament, three behind Watney.
The best thing about McIlroy is he doesn't look as robotic as a lot of guys out here. Instead, he looks like he's genuinely having a good time, enjoying life as a pro golfer, as he should.
A couple of nights ago I was out to dinner at a nice pub called the Horse and Plow at the American Club, which is the nice, fancy resort in Kohler. McIlroy was in there with the shirt untucked, hat on backwards enjoying a quick dinner before what was scheduled to be an early restart. He couldn't have been nicer to the people who walked up to ask for an autograph or a picture. I should also note that, even though he's 21, I didn't see him have one adult beverage.
Rory's just a cool kid who would look good hoisting some major hardware.Editor's Note: Dinner in a pub, huh? Note to self: Check T.J.'s expense report from the PGA Championship extra closely.3:30 p.m. CDT --
Here's one place I never expected to get an email from -- Wes Griffin checks in from Accra, Ghana, in Africa
I tried to watch the live feed but it is blocked where I am in Africa. So you are "my eyes" for the PGA. I bet that you did not realize just how important you are!
Thanks for the email, Wes. Wow! I definitely didn't realize I was so important -- I'll have to tell my boss!
In that case, let's catch you up. Nick Watney is 4 under through six holes and leads the tournament at 11 under, three shots clear of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jim Furyk.
As for Tiger Woods, that's another story. He's going backwards in a big way on moving day. With a 3-over 39 on his front side, Tiger is currently even for the tournament and tied for 59th. Looks like the slump won't be ending this week.
Oh, and a note about that Lehman ace I reported earlier ... He used a 4-iron from 217 yards. It was the first ace in a PGA Championship since Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden turned the trick at Oakland Hills Country Club in 2008.
Hale Irwin and Robert Gamez each had a hole-in-one when the PGA Championship was first played at Whistling Straits in 2004.
Let's stay in Africa, more specifically Cape Town, South Africa, and an email from Peter Byers
:I enjoy your blog!
Can you comment on the non-implementation of a long-standing "norm": namely that all those within 10 shots of the leader qualifying to play at the week-end?
Thanks for the email, Peter.
The "within 10 shots rule" applies at only the Masters and the U.S. Open, but not at the British Open and PGA Championship. Like the PGA Championship, at the British Open only the top 70 and ties advance to the weekend.Editor's Note: Important? Important? Did that guy from Ghana actually say you were important? Pardon me while I run and get a paper towel so I can wipe up all this water I just spewed out of my mouth. Paying your taxes, now that's important. Remembering to feed the dog is important. Changing the oil in your car on a regular basis is important. Writing this silly blog is, well, not all that important. Except if one lives in Ghana, I guess.3:10 p.m. CDT --
I heard a loud roar out here just a few moments ago and did some digging to find out what it was. Turns out Senior PGA Champion Tom Lehman made a hole-in-one on No. 17.
Lehman's ace would never have come to be were it not for his win at Colorado Country Club in May. The Senior PGA champ gets an exemption into the PGA Championship and that's why he's here.3:15 p.m. CDT --
So who's this Simon Dyson guy who's off to a flying start in the third round?
He's a 32-year-old Englishman with four career wins on the European Tour, most recently at the 2009 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. That win came at St. Andrews, which, as we all know, hosted the Open Championship just last month. Needless to say, if the elements do become a factor on Sunday, I like Dyson's chances based on his track record.
When it comes to major championship success, it's safe to say that Dyson hasn't had much of it, but mostly because he's only made 13 starts. The highlight of those was a tie for sixth in the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in 2007.
Dyson began the day at 2 under, but with four birdies in his first eight holes (he made a bogey on No. 9), he is soaring up the leaderboard and on track to make a huge move.
Meanwhile, going in the other direction is Tiger Woods, who can't seem to find a way to keep hold of his club whenever he hits a lousy shot. Tiger made back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 4-5 to drop back to 1 under for the tournament. 2:00 p.m. CDT --
The final threesome of Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney and Jim Furyk have just teed off in the third round of the 92nd PGA Championship.
As they set out to get ever closer to hunting down a major win, let's take a peak at each player.
Kuchar starts the day one shot ahead of Watney. In his PGA Tour career, Kuchar, a former U.S. Amateur champion, has two wins. Despite not winning yet, the 2010 season has been Kuchar's best to date, as he's compiled eight top-10 finishes. Curious about his major championship record? It's not much to write home about. There was a tie for 21st at the Masters and a tie for 14th at the U.S. Open when he was still an amateur in 1998. As a pro, his best performance was a tie for sixth at Pebble Beach in June.
Watney, 29, is also a two-time winner on Tour with one of those wins coming at Torrey Pines in the Buick Invitational -– the South Course at Torrey hosted the 2008 U.S. Open. Watney has played well in spots, especially this year in the majors. He finished seventh at the Masters and tied for seventh at the Open Championship.
Then there's Furyk. I'm not sure you could find a person in the world of golf who wouldn't be shocked if Furyk ended his career with just one major win, because he's that good. He's also a two-time winner on Tour this season and has the patience necessary to grind it out at a major as he proved in 2003 at Olympia Fields in the U.S. Open.1:30 p.m. CDT --
Pretty cool backdrop on No. 8, where a few sailboats are floating along in Lake Michigan. I remember last year at Hazeltine there was a lake beside the 16th green and boats would pull right up and watch the action.
That won't be the case here. The holes along the water at Lake Michigan are built high onto the cliffs, so the boats below won't be able to see much.
Another neat setting out on the course: a couple of brothers, probably 4 and 6 years old, sitting in one of Pete Dye's bunkers just left of the ninth fairway and making sand castles.
That's not why Mr. Dye put the sand there, but it looks like the boys are having fun ... which is something the players who find themselves in the Dye bunkers can't say.
Editor's Note: Watching sailboats in Lake Michigan and little boys playing in bunkers? Correct me if I'm wrong -- which you know I rarely am -- but aren't you supposed to be watching what's happening
inside the ropes? I think we need to have a little talk when you return to the media center, mister. 1:05 p.m. CDT --
This course can definitely be had today, and Simon Dyson is proving just that. The Englishman, playing alongside Phil Mickelson, has started his third round with three consecutive birdies and now he's just three off the lead.
I love it when moving day proves to be just that. I don't like watching players par a course to death -- birdies make it fun!
From the mailbag, Craig Piper from parts unknown
has checked in to challenge my winning score prediction of 12 under. Craig's leaning toward 15-16 under.
In my defense, I predicted 12 under before the tournament started. If Whistling Straits remains as defenseless as it is now, I'd have to agree with you, Craig, it's going to be a lot lower than 12, which I never would have imagined at this place.12:45 p.m. CDT --
Swing coach Sean Foley, who has unofficially (whatever that means) been working with Tiger Woods this week, has made his way to the range to put his watchful eyes on the swing of Hunter Mahan. Mahan is a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this year, including last week's Bridgestone Invitational.
Tiger typically doesn't share swing coaches, so it'll be interesting to see what happens if he ever makes it official with Foley. Foley already has a solid stable of players, boasting the likes of Justin Rose and Sean O'Hair. Really wouldn't make sense to walk away from the young guns for one guy.12:25 p.m. CDT --
The range is a busy place at the moment, as players prepare for their third round.
There's a swelling crowd near the front end of the range and it seems like loads of supporters of hometown favorite Steve Stricker. Stricks made the cut by one shot at even par and will start eight shots behind the leader.
Dustin Johnson is out here too and is continually rehearsing his swing before and after every shot, moving in slow motion and stopping at what would be impact -- guess he's trying to make sure the club-face is where he wants it to be.
It's mostly cloudy out here and very muggy. Those pesky mosquitoes won't go away either. In fact, I just saw a sign posted asking the walking scorers not to use mosquito repellant anywhere near the playing area since it can damage and kill the grass on tees, fairways and greens.
If those are the rules, I guess the mosquitoes will continue to feast ... like they've been doing on my right leg.Editor's Note: I'm guessing you didn't notice all those bottles of free bug spray near the door leading out off the media center, huh? Boy, this is one observant roving reporter I've got here. Remind me to give you a big, fat raise when this is over. Not.11:35 a.m. CDT --
For the first time since the 92nd PGA Championship began, Mother Nature allowed play to start as scheduled on Saturday.
The second round finally went into the books at 11:18 a.m. CDT with 72 players making the cut at 1-over 145. The third round will begin shortly with threesomes off two tees, which means at the end of the day, this tournament will be back on schedule.
It was an exciting morning of golf with low scores out there for the taking. All eyes were on Tiger Woods, who had 12 holes to play in his second round this morning and shot a 2-under 70. At 3 under for the tournament, Tiger will start the third round trailing leader Matt Kuchar by five shots.
Based on what we saw this morning, I expect this to be a very exciting third round with a lot of movement on the leaderboard.
Before we get started, here's an email from Stan in Paris, France
I saw your predictions on the winning score and it got me thinking of a theory to judge whether a golf course has been a fair test for the top players in the world: to me, unless the weather is extreme, the winner should finish at 10-12 under, and around 30 players should end the week under par.
And now of course, the big question is: do you agree with that? :)
Thanks for this and for the great blog!
Stan, my prediction was that the winner will have a final total score of 12 under. I'm still comfortable with my prediction, but I wouldn't be surprised if the mark is even better than that considering the ideal conditions for scoring we're seeing at Whistling Straits today and expected to see again tomorrow.
Is it a fair test? I think so. If you keep it in play, you're rewarded. If you don't, you pay a heavy price. That's what major championship golf should be, in my opinion.