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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Jerry Kelly would have been nice

Tom Lehman said he didn't pick someone like Jerry Kelly for the Ryder Cup team because he was too inconsistent? Huh? EVERYONE, sans Tiger, has been inconsistent.
Jerry Kelly has a fire similar to Chris DiMarco, and that has certainly translated into success for the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Early returns from Round 2

Medinah remains defenseless with no relatively no wind present and its soft greens and fairways there for the taking.
Henrik Stenson has climbed to the top of the leaderboard at Medinah with three birdies on the front nine . He stands at 7-under for the event through 10 holes today.
Chris Riley is hanging strong and is even par for his round, 6-under for the event through 10 holes today.
Davis Love III, maybe still feeling the effects of his triple bogey at No. 17 yesterday, made three straight bogeys early in his second round. The veteran also made three birdies on Medinah's back nine (his opening nine) to stay at 4-under. Love parred the 17th today.
Daniel Chopra and Sean O'Hair currently have the best second rounds going at 4-under.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The real dirt on Toms' first practice round

Toms arrived just before noon at Medinah and headed straight to the range with teacher Rob Akins. Toms was having some difficult hitting the ball solid to begin his session, but he's still trying to work the kinks out from missing six weeks after the U.S. Open.

Some of the Cleveland Golf guys convinced Toms to hit one of the new Cleveland hybrids, but after one swing Toms said it was "too heavy" and quickly gave it back.

On the second hole, a 191-yard par-3, Toms hit his first shot right of the hole, but stiffed his second attempt. As he walked off the tee, a fan shouted "use the second swing."

Toms retorted, "That's usually how it is. My 'A' player is better than my 'B' player.

Walking to the third tee box, Toms passed on several autographs, for good reason, though. If he would have signed every hat, flag and pad put in front of him, it might have taken 7 hours to play. However, one kid had an LSU cap. Bingo, Toms said he'd sign that!

Toms had some loyal followers Tuesday. Some girls from the Southern Illinois University golf team decided to follow the former LSU star beginning at No. 8. They were quite vocal all day, screaming for several of Toms' quality shots. They followed closely until Toms' birdied the 13th hole. They shouted "Go Tigers" as they headed for their cars.

Check to see how Toms plays the 11th and 16th holes this week. Both holes call for a big draw off the tee and right now Toms doesn't have that.

"I can't play this hole, can't I just skip this one," Toms said after having trouble finding a good place in the fairway on the 438-yard, par-4 11th.

No. 16, is 453 yards and requires the same effort off the tee.

Toms had what had to be one of the best shots of the day en route to his birdie on the 244-yard 13th. It was that lucky 5-wood -- the one he made the hole-in-one with at the 2001 PGA -- that left him just 8 feet from the cup. Toms hit another spectacular shot on Medinah's final par 3, the 197-yard 17th. It's one of the most beautiful and challenging short holes in the game of golf -- and one of three par 3s that force a shot over Lake Kadijah.

After Toms finished his solid round, he headed toward the incredible clubhouse and the Champions Dinner.

Tiger already 1-up on Phil

Tiger Woods entered the media center at 1 p.m. for his first news conference at Medinah. The reigning British Open champion looked sharp in his electric blue Nike golf shirt and dark pants. Woods beat Mickelson to the media as "Lefty" addressed reporters at 1:30 p.m.

Woods and Mickelson are paired together for the first two rounds of the PGA Championship. The group, which also includes Geoff Ogilvy, is one of most anticipated major championship pairings in quite some time.

Toms arrives at Medinah

David Toms arrived in Chicago with teacher Rob Akins on Tuesday morning. The two hit the golf course at noon and practiced for more than an hour before heading out to Medinah's No. 3 for a practice round.

Toms seemed to be hitting the ball pretty well until his driver. He was a touch erratic with the big stick, sending a few problematic shots to the left. He did end his practice session with a pair of perfect drives.

He may try out a couple of drivers to figure out which is best to put in the bag for Thursday's first round.

One thing to look for this week is Toms' distance. He has had a little trouble getting the strength back in his swing since his 2-month hiatus.

Is Tiger injured?

According to reports from members of Tiger Woods' gallery Monday morning, the No. 1 golfer in the world walked with a noticable limp around the No. 3 course at Medinah.

Woods completed his round before most people had even made a trip to the golf course. He did return to hit balls for more than one hour Monday evening.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hanging with the caddie

Just got back from running the grounds with Scott Gneiser, the caddie for David Toms. First we picked up two sets of Toms' clubs and his luggage shipped in from last week's International in Colorado.

I checked out the expansive locker room at Medinah. Toms' locker, and the other PGA champions, are separated from the rest of the field.

From there we went to the Cleveland Golf trailer. They regripped the club's David used last week (my clubs haven't been regripped since 1989) and check the loft and lie on another set of clubs.

Gneiser and his family are members at Medinah, so it will be interesting to see if his local knowledge will help Toms at all. Gneiser is married to the former Jane Mikita, daughter of Chicago Blackhawks great Stan Mikita.

The Gneisers have three children. Two were scouring the grounds Monday. Charlie, 3, and Billy, 2, were keeping their mother busy while brother, Tommy (2.5 months), was at home with a sitter.

The calm before the storm

Medinah Country Club is rather quiet at this hour. I was just the second person to take a seat in the Media Center.

You can bet the action will pick up swiftly. This course is in immaculate condition. It's what major championship golf is all about.

Shreveport's David Toms is scheduled to arrive at the course Tuesday afternoon. I'm about to head over and meet up with his caddie Scott Gneiser.

Look for a few stories in Tuesday's Times, including a scene-setter and a column from yours truly on how Tom Lehman, should he qualify on points, should not remove himself from the U.S. Ryder Cup team.