Taking one for the team!
It’s incredible how fast guys will start playing and moving — especially on a Friday and even more so if the player is not going to make the cut — when they’re running out of daylight. You see, there’s only one clock clock that produces the desired result in combating slow play and that’s Mother Nature and the horn signaling the suspension of play due to darkness. Unlike the horn for inclement weather, which does not give players a choice to finish the hole, this one does — that is, if at least one player in the group has already teed off before the horn blows.
Due to inclement weather, play was suspended for two hours late on Friday. While the rain certainly softened up Quail Hollow and conditions were far more receptive and scoring friendly for the players who teed off in the afternoon wave, it was a far-gone conclusion that second-round play would not be completed on Friday and those still left on the course would have to return early Saturday to finish up.
Which brings us to the above video of Rod Pampling’s smothering duck-hook, resembling the tee shot of an average weekend duffer (like, perhaps one of yours this weekend), with an apex of 13 feet, to be exact! In case you missed the telecast, Pampling and the two others in his group Thomas Pieters and Xander Schauffele were all well over the cut line, so to escape a wake-up call at dark-o-clock to play ONE hole, Pampling took one for the team.
Pampling was in such a rush and worried about beating the horn that he essentially pulled a semi-Happy-Gilmore, which led to the hilariously poor result. God bless technology and shot-tracer! The broadcast team was unable to contain themselves as they burst out laughing, but that’s the natural reaction. Pieters and Schauffele aren’t the only people thankful for Pampling’s sacrifice — we are all grateful for the comedic relief.
— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) August 12, 2017
Pampling, who was 12-over at the time, was perfectly fine with making a double-bogey on no. 9 to post 79 and a 14-over total through 36 holes. It was definitely worth the sacrifice and a much better alternative than waking up at the crack of dawn to play one friggin’ hole when second-round play resumes at 7:30am Saturday.
This happens all the time at regular PGA Tour events, where one guy will rush to the next tee while the others finish the previous hole to beat the horn. The most memorable examples that I recall were in 2011. At The Players Championship that year, Ian Poulter jogged to the 17th green, pulled out the pin himself and two-putted, and then sprinted to the 18th tee. His playing partner Dustin Johnson was thankful for Poulter taking the initiative and the extra four hours of sleep. Earlier in 2011, a player teed off the 9th hole with a wedge at Riviera when the group in front of him didn’t realize he was on the tee — now that was *definitely* taking one for the team.
Back to Quail Hollow. Pampling wasn’t the only player who scrambled to beat the clock. The threesome ahead of Pampling’s group — Danny Willett, J.B. Holmes and Louis Oosthuizen — were also concerned with finishing. Willett, who was the only player certain to miss the cut, was in such a rush that he hit an iron off the long par-4 9th and happily stomached a bogey to post an eight-over 79. It’s no secret Willett isn’t the most popular guy on the European Tour, so perhaps his sacrifice will win him a few brownie points. Holmes is five-over, which is the current cut. Meanwhile, Oosthuizen is in the mix at T4, posting a four-under 67 for a five-under 36-hole total.
The group also ran up the 9th fairway to clear the way for Pampling’s legendary shot.
Heading into the weekend like… pic.twitter.com/ZdldvzAVaP
— PGA of America (@PGA) August 12, 2017
The marquee group of Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Henrik Stenson were also up against darkness and the horn. I honestly wasn’t sure they were going to make it — Day and Stenson aren’t exactly the fastest players in the world, but DJ certainly is, so it was only natural that he piped a drive while Day took his time putting out on 17.
However, after teeing off, Day and Stenson started running up the fairway (because it really was super dark and hard to see anything) with DJ about 330 yards down the fairway next to his ball. Literally, they were chasing Day-light! Ha, ha, lol.
When Day finally caught his breath and DJ, he thanked him with a hug.
— PGA of America (@PGA) August 12, 2017
In his post-round presser, Day explained what went down:
“I was hugging him. It was because he — because I was way right — well, not way right but on 17 I was off the green. And we were walking up, and we were talking about like if we can get a tee shot on 18, we could finish the round. And DJ is like, “I’ll do it.”
“And I’m like, ‘That’s great.’ I’m going in — from 16, he lag-putted from 50 feet away, he hit it to 20 feet. I’m like, oh, just hopefully he either holes it or hits it stone-dead, and he did, and then he ran out there and teed off. As soon as he teed off, you know, we all kind of flushed it down 18. And I just walked up to him and said, ‘That’s the biggest, or most clutch thing I’ve ever seen anyone do for me.’
“I had to give him a hug for it. He was happy, as well. Obviously to be able to finish and not have to wake up at 5:30 tomorrow, get some rest. Because it is hot out there and it does take it out of you, even though you are waking up early, you don’t feel like it did, but it really does. To be able to get that extra sleep and relax a little bit in the afternoon; it goes for Henrik, and Dustin, as well.”
You see, guys, the threat of waking up at dark-o-clock to play one or two holes is the only proven solution to help pace of play issues. Four extra hours of sleep does matter. I mean, it makes me sick to the stomach when there are players who have to return in the morning to play a hole or two, especially the ones that have absolutely no shot in hell of making the cut. It kind of adds insult to the injury. It’s like, ok, you obviously already played like crap and now you have to wake up early to hit more bad golf shots.
Speaking of Day, welcome back to the leaderboard at the majors! We’ve missed you!
“The whole course changed with regards to how receptive it was,” said Day, who shot a five-under 66 to post a 36-hole total of six-under and in solo third at the moment. “And to be able to go out there and hit driver as far as you can, knowing that the ball is not going to bounce off the fairways; if it does, be able to hit the fairways, get yourself on the greens and give yourself opportunities, because the greens are in phenomenal shape.
“Being able to shoot 66 today, I know that we’re going to have some, you know, it’s going to be hard work over the next two days because of how Hideki and Kevin are playing. So it will be interesting to see, you know, how the weekend pans out with the weather, but hopefully we get some nice, sunny weather over the next two days and we can finish strong.”
The difference this week for Day has been with his driving *and* his putting.
“I think the biggest thing for me is that my confidence level hasn’t been as high as it should have been over this past year with how I’ve putted, how I’ve driven the ball.,” said the 2015 PGA Champion.
“Like I said earlier this week, putting is huge for me. It gives me a lot of confidence. If I’m putting well, I feel I can get into my where and get up-and-down from anywhere and it not affect me. And I haven’t had the greatest putting year, and it’s kind of affected me a little bit and it’s kind of trickled off into other parts of my game.
“So that was there for the lack of confidence. And today, I was actually quite pleased, because you know, you just try to keep getting back to the, you know, to what I did a couple years ago. Like you just want to keep pushing forward. And I was pushing forward for a good while there. Had a hiccup at 11. But to come back at 13, 14, birdie those, just missed the birdie on 15, and they are the opportunities that you just have to give yourself. Fortunately I capitalized on them and I’m in third place right now.
“I’m pretty happy with, you know, where my mind-set was at. Instead of like worrying about where it’s going or how I’m putting, or is my swing good, I was actually just focusing on what to score; I need to get better and better and better, and I was happy about that.”
— PGA of America (@PGA) August 11, 2017
This was classic Jordan Spieth being Jordan Spieth, in terms of making sure he knew his options, but I couldn’t stop laughing at this GIF:
New nickname: Groundhog!
Par of the day? Shot of the day? This is certainly what I’d call shot-making! Well done, Rory McIlroy!
— PGA of America (@PGA) August 11, 2017
He has his work cut out for him this weekend, posting a second-straight one-over 72. He’s currently T31, but he trails co-leaders Kevin Kisner and Hideki Matsuyama (who was ON FIRE and shot a SEVEN-UNDER 64 today!) by nine strokes. McIlroy teed off in the morning prior to the rain, so with softer, more receptive conditions on Saturday (aka, his favorite!), he could shoot something real low. I mean, he will need to post two low scores if he wants to get into contention and then a chance to actually win.
Some of Rory’s thoughts on the “old” Quail Hollow vs. the “new” Quail Hollow:
“I guess a low round used to be a 61 or a 62. A low round now is a 66 or a 67. You’re playing your ass off to get that. I’d say, if I shoot two 67s over the weekend, I’m going to have a really good chance.”
With the rain, he’s probably thinking at least 63 now…
“Look, it surprised me; this is not the Quail Hollow we have gotten to know over the last ten years. It’s a completely different golf course. Even if they didn’t do anything else with the golf course and just changed it to full bermuda like it is now, all of a sudden makes the golf course two shots more difficult. Just with the lies that you get in the rough, trickiness around the greens.
“Even just that — so yeah, it’s a much tougher practice, and I’m not — after what I’ve witnessed over the past two days, no, I’m not surprised to see so many guys be over par.”
Second-round play will resume at 7:30am Saturday. The third round will be played in groups of three, from no. 1 tee only, with starting times beginning at approximately 40 minutes after the conclusion of Round 2, with leaders teeing off last. Approximate starting times will be 10:00am – 2:00pm.
It’s been raining steadily tonight at Quail Hollow. I’m staying a 10-minute walk from the media center, so I think it’s safe to assume what I see outside is also happening at the golf course. OK, now it’s POURING.
Once again, there’s a chance of thunderstorms in the morning Saturday and then once again late in the afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed! But like I’ve said, it wouldn’t be the PGA Championship without delays due to inclement weather. In fact, this is the seventh straight PGA that has experienced a suspension in play for one reason or another. So my memory did serve me right — the last time there was NOT a delay was in 2011 at Atlanta Athletic Club, where it was so freaking hot that when I stepped on concrete, I thought I was going to go up in flames.