Stuck at the office with no TV? Fear not, John Garrity, senior writer for Sports Illustrated, will be here Friday to fill you in on all the goings-on at Oakland Hills. Stay with him from 1-4 p.m. EST as he live blogs the broadcast. Michael Walker Jr., senior editor for GOLF Magazine, will be here at 4 p.m. to blog the late coverage. Join the conversation by posting comments at the link below.
3:59 p.m.: Well, I step off the mound, reach for the resin bag, I'm thinking high heat ... but out of the corner of my eye I spot Michael Walker warming up in the bullpen. It's no use arguing with the manager, because he's a pitch-count guy. Two thousand words and you're out of there. So I'd just like to say -- before I dunk my fingers in a bowl of ice -- that it's been a pleasure watching golf for you. And unlike yesterday, when I headed straight for the showers, I'm going to hang around to see if Mickelson does anything ... what the? Phil just flubbed a chip on, wait a minute, what's the hole? Was that his third? Will he --"
Oh, hell. Give Michael the ball, I'm out of here. 3:43 p.m.: It's always fun to watch the TV guys needle each other. CBS's Gary McCord, in a tease for the afternoon telecast, said, "If you like train wrecks, if you like to watch David Feherty ride his bicycle, this is going to be the afternoon for you." 3:38 p.m.: Best use of the shotgun mike, so far. Mickelson just drove into a fairway bunker on No. 6, but he couldn't tell from the tee. Phil asked, "Did that get over that fairway bunker?" To which Ian Baker-Finch, watching from the booth, replied, "No, it didn't, Phil." All they need to complete the loop is an earphone for the golfer, so when Johnny Miller says, "That was a fearful stroke," the offended player can immediately raise a finger to the camera and shout, '---- you, Johnny!" 3:27 p.m.: I always say that the tournament doesn't start until the front nine on Friday afternoon. So take note: Mickelson's birdie on No. 5 puts him in a four-way tie for the lead with Baddeley, Holmes, and Garcia. Somebody at TNT must have anticipated this, because they have just cranked up the time machine (and Jim Huber) for a quick look back at Mickelson's victory in the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol. I'm impressed. 3:21 p.m.: If you've been waiting for Mickelson to sniff the lead before running down the hall to watch on TV, get ready. Phil just stuck his approach on No. 5 about a foot from the hole. (It's on TNT, but full disclosure: TNT is a sibling company to SI and Golf.com.) 3:10 p.m.: Another correspondent, "Bric," is probably Van Sickle using an alias. (Gary always tells me I'm "one bric shy of a load.") Bric writes, "John, what's the top story thus far on the leaderboard? Is it the early positioning of some of the top players or the potential of a Richard Green or Esposito to make some noise early in their careers? Or maybe just the concession stands' daily special?"
To be honest, Bric, my top story isn't on the leader board. It's this insidious use of "beast" to describe the Oakland Hills South Course. Ernie Els rode the trend yesterday, saying, "It was a real beast today." Hey, let's get it right. Oakland Hills is "the monster." Or, if you will, The Monster! That's what Ben Hogan called Oakland Hills when he won the 1951 U.S. Open on it. That's what it says on the souvenir mugs, hats, and mud flaps. It's a monster. Not a beast.
So, kudos to Bill MacAtee for using "monster" earlier in the telecast. That's professionalism. 2:54 p.m.: This just in from SI senior writer Gary Van Sickle. "I can't believe a big-name writer like you isn't here with the rest of us SI hacks. Loved your stuff from Royal Birkmore, tho. Your bomb-and-gouge analysis is right-on. Take two more Red Bulls and write if you get work." 2:50 p.m.: Mickelson, clearly devastated by his three-putt on No. 2, almost flew his tee shot into the hole on the par-3 third. I've said it a thousand times, but if I had to choose a single player to follow in a tournament -- other than Tiger -- it would be Phil. Or if not Phil, Aaron Baddeley. I don't mean that, of course, but Baddeley just birdied the fifth to take the tournament lead at 2-under, and I feel obligated to mention his name. 2:41 p.m.: Although Jeev Milkha Singh leads at 2-under, there are 14 other players within two strokes of him. One of those pursuers, Phil Mickelson, just hit the green of the par-5 second from 231 yards. If he makes this lengthy eagle putt, Lefty will share the lead .... alas, he leaves it short and above the hole. And now Phil lips out his three-footer. (Three putts for par? The pros hate 'em.) Even so, Mickelson draws to within a stroke of the lead when Singh bogeys No. 15. 2:23 p.m.: A very observant "Jake" asks, "Since when did Steve Jones trade in his US Open trophy for the PGA?" My answer: Since I turned 60. I have made the correction, Jake, and for embarrassing me in public I award you an autographed copy of my collection of golf stories, Tiger 2.0. Send an e-mail with your address to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you a copy, pronto. 2:11 p.m.: Is the rough tough? Camilo Villegas just tried to hit a long iron out of the deep grass on the par-5 second, and his ball got about a foot off the ground before skidding into the first cut and rolling a few yards. It made me think of Lee Trevino, who used to argue for long rough by arguing, "When you go bowling they don't give you anything for landing in the gutter, do they?" 1:57 p.m.: They keep playing that Lexus commercial where Chi Chi "The Sword" Rodriguez makes his tires squeal as he exits a parking garage. Personally, I'd be turned on more by a replay of Chi Chi's 6-iron to the eighteenth green at the end of the 1999 U.S. Senior Open. Chi Chi needed to birdie the eighteenth to force a Monday playoff with Jack Nicklaus, but the hole was cut behind a bunker on the left side of the green. It was an unassailable pin placement. So Chi Chi assailed it. He hit a sweeping hook with so much sidespin that his ball landed to the right of the flag and then darted toward the hole as if pulled by a string. Chi Chi made the putt and did his sword dance, and I filed his shot away in my memory. I still think it's probably the coolest shot I've ever seen. 1:44 p.m.: It's glamour time. The threesome of Sergio Garcia, Anthony Kim, and Camilo Villegas just teed off on No. 1. Garcia shot 69 yesterday and Kim shot 70, while Villegas struggled to a 74. But I'm guessing that it's Villegas, with his Harliquin-romance bulging muscles and cascading locks that has the most damsels in his wake. 1:33 p.m.: Two-time PGA champ Vijay Singh just putted his ball all around the eighteenth hole before tapping in for another 76. Unless the winds freshen even further and blow the afternoon golfers clear out of Bloomfield Township, Vijay will miss the PGA cut for the third straight year. 1:28 p.m.: The usually eloquent Jim Huber of TNT just shanked a post-round interview with Ben Curtis by referring to the British Open "at Royal Birkmore." Personally, I'm looking forward to next year's Open at Blackberry. 1:21 p.m.: Should we be surprised to see J. B. Holmes leading the PGA? We should not. Some analysts argue that lengthy Oakland Hills is a "bomb and gouge" course that favors golfers who hit the ball long and high. The countervailing theory, of course, is that all majors, with their deep rough and fast greens, favor straight hitters with good short games. (See David Toms, below, and former U.S. Open champ Steve Jones.) I buy the bomb-and-gouge argument because these greens simply can't be hit with a long-iron or fairway wood. The big hitters, even when they miss the fairway, are close enough to the greens to go airborne with short irons and wedges. Anyone disagree? 1:10 p.m.: "I think the PGA would like to see the scores a little bit lower today," says TNT's Ian Baker-Finch. To that end, the PGA elves have moved several markers forward, shortened all the par-3s, drained the ponds and sprayed Firm-Grip on the greens. (Two of those are true.) But they forgot to widen the cups. First-round leader Robert Karlsson just missed a very short putt to open with a bogey. 1:03 p.m.: TNT launched its coverage in timely fashion -- just as J.B. Holmes drained his birdie putt on No. 14 to take the lead at 3-under. I love those arm-pump openers, even if they're lame imitations of Tiger Woods. 1:00 p.m.: I’m so new to live blogging that I don’t even know if I've been credited with a “quality start” for yesterday’s three-hour stint of PGA watching. I do know that it was great to see GOLF Magazine's Michael Walker come out of the bullpen to rescue me from a no-out, bases-loaded jam. I went straight upstairs to shower, and when I came down, three hours later, Michael had already recorded the save. The guy showed great stuff, considering he had to blog around a lengthy rain delay.
Anyway, here’s how things stand as TNT starts its round two coverage. The first-round leaders, Robert Karlsson and Jeev Milkha Singh, are still atop the leader board, but that’s because they are just starting their rounds. Former British Open champ Ben Curtis and former PGA champ David Toms have made the biggest moves of the morning golfers, jumping 35 and 25 places respectively into an 8th-place tie at even par. At the opposite extreme, Andres Romero – who shared the overnight lead at 2-under with two holes to play – has plunged 68 spots and is now 6-over and T-71 through 12 holes.
The golf course, I'm guessing, is still hard.