Stuck at the office with no TV? Fear not, John Garrity, senior writer for Sports Illustrated, will be here Thursday 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 PM: "Laurie M" offers this rhetorical question: "Vijay Singh is doing a great Ben Hogan impression these days, don't you think? I mean, from tee to green he's great, but this guy couldn't buy a putt with a $100 bill." Vijay must agree with you, Laurie, because he just holed out from off the green for a birdie. But he's 4-over through 7 and T-95, so he needs to do something with the putter to be a factor on the weekend. .... Hey, where did the time go? Michael Walker is all warmed up and ready to guide you through the rest of the afternoon. So that's it from Kansas City. Take it away, Michael! 3:48 PM: Gary McCord and Peter Oosterhuis of CBS just made cameo appearances, and now TNT's Jim Huber is narrating an historical video about Oakland Hills. As I mentioned below, we just heard from Feherty and Lundquist, and before the afternoon is done I'm sure we'll get on-camera visits from all the other CBS reporters and analysts, not to mention the Loch Ness Monster. Actually, I like all these mike-men individually. What I don't like is the American paradigm of "the more the merrier." We put a reporter on every hole, two or three guys in the booth on 18, still more analysts in towers, and an interviewer behind the scorer's tent. You wind up with so many voices that everybody has to speak in tiny sound bites. I much prefer the BBC and European Tour telecasts, which place greater emphasis on a lead analyst conversing at length with a trusted sidekick. Am I alone here? 3:28 PM: A Harrington bogey at No. 7, a Retief Goosen birdie at No. 4, and suddenly Goosen is our leader at 3-under. But don't look for either of those guys to shoot 65. "The scoring average has gone up half a shot in the last hour," Ian Baker-Finch just told his TNT audience -- further evidence that the greens are drying out. Meanwhile, CBS's Vern Lundquist, commenting on the Harrington bogey, said, "It's an evil game." To which his colleague David Feherty replied, "I prefer to think of it as a pastime." (I mention Feherty out of commercial self-interest. David graciously produced a bawdy introduction for my current book, Tiger 2.0, and I need to pay him back for describing me as "a walking 1-iron" and "this giant, invisible asshole.") 3:10 PM: Kevin, having baited me into a rant about John Daly, is back with another question. "What's your take on Golf Channel's 'coverage' of the tour?" he asks. "My take is that it's slightly less objective than Pravda used to be of the Kremlin. Listening to those guys, every tour pro is a superstar capable of winning the big one." Actually, Kevin, I covered the Russian Open a few years ago, and Pravda didn't even send a golf writer. As for the Golf Channel's bias, I'm neither surprised nor offended when their coverage reflects their commercial self-interest. They make up for it by letting angry analysts like John Hawkins take shots at all the available targets during the preview and wrap-up shows. 2:55 PM: Did you put money on Lee Westwood to win? The Englishman, who finished a stroke out of the Woods-Mediate playoff at Torrey Pines, shot 77 this morning and will have to make a lot of putts tomorrow to get back into the mix. Davis Love III also carded a 77, K.J. Choi opened with a sloppy 78, and Hunter Mahan -- who recently created a storm of controversy by likening a Ryder Cup invitation to "slavery" -- shackled his own chances with an 81. If TNT is right in calling the PGA "Glory's Last Shot," all these guys are facing an inglorious end to 2008. 2:42 PM: Sean O'Hair, who just signed for a first-round 69, says that the greens are drying out rapidly. "Basically every green on the back nine you can see spots where it's already dying," he said. He's right -- you can see the so-called "hot spots" on TV, and it's only Thursday. "To see it this early is very unusual," said O'Hair. (Anybody got a hose?) 2:32 PM: Kevin asks, "How do other tour pros feel about Daly?" Well, very few will talk about Daly on the record, but if you put away the notebook most of them will say they've lost all sympathy for him. They think he's sullied the Tour's image with his alcoholism and out-of-control behavior, and they ask why tournament sponsors keep giving him exemptions into Tour events. Yes, Daly is still a draw. But most players give him a nod and a smile and keep walking. 2:19 PM: I can't look at our co-leader, Heath Slocum, without scratching my head over his long friendship with Boo Weekley. They were high school teammates in the Florida panhandle, but Heath comes off as your generic, polished pro, while Boo comes off as ... well, as Boo. All the more reason to suspect that Boo flaunts his piney-woods persona to lower people's expectations of him. 2:11 PM: I was right about Mickelson being okay with his five-bogey round of 70. "Yeah, I'll take it," he told TNT. "At the start of the day I'd have been very pleased with that." And he should be. Only five players from the morning have finished under par. Meanwhile, Kenny Perry has stepped onto the first tee, resolving the uncertainty over whether his corneal abrasion would keep him from playing. I'm sure Kenny didn't want to withdraw. Had he not played the PGA, he would have been the first player in history to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team without playing in any of the four majors that year. 2:04 PM: Shot of the day? British Open champ Padraig Harrington just nudged the pin with his tee shot on the par-3 third, the ball stopping a few inches away. When he taps in, he'll be 3-under and tied with current leader Heath Slocum. 1:55 PM: Mickelson narrowly missed his birdie try on No. 8, and he just finished his round with a bogey on the par-3 ninth. But considering his awful start, Lefty can't be dissatisfied with a first-round 70. 1:52 PM: Andy writes, "I take it you're comfortably sitting at home covering the PGA Championship like the other guys that stayed home covering the British Open?" That's right, Andy. I'm watching in the music room at "Catch Basin," my Kansas City manse. The situation was reversed in July when Alan Shipnuck and Gary Van Sickle live-blogged in their pajamas while I frolicked on the dunes at Royal Birkdale. 1:44 PM: Sergio Garcia is in with a 69. In a post-round interview, he told TNT that Oakland Hills is playing "so different" than it did when his European team trounced the U.S. in the 2004 Ryder Cup. "But it still looks the same," he added. Unfortunately -- and he didn't volunteer this -- Sergio's record in major championships also looks the same: Still no wins. 1:37 PM: They've just shown John Daly walking to the first tee. It seems like a hundred years since he won the PGA at Crooked Stick. Back then, of course, he was a feel-good story, the no-name final alternate who drove overnight from Memphis and teed off on Thursday without a practice round. These days, there's no feel-good left in the John Daly story. He'd do the Tour and himself a big favor if he dropped out of sight and got himself the medical attention he so desperately needs. 1:31 PM: Immelman just took three from the edge to double-bogey the first hole. It's a terrible start, but he can take solace in the fact that Karlsson started the same way this morning and wound up shooting 68. 1:26 PM: Trevor Immelman, our Masters champ, is showing how tough the first hole is. He drove into a fairway bunker and then caught the lip of the bunker with his second. It just proves that you have to be a good scrambler to score at Oakland Hills. 1:20 PM: Surprised to see Robert Karlsson's name atop the leader board? You shouldn't be. The tall Swede is the only player with top-ten finishes in all three of this season's previous majors. He's sometimes called "The Smartest Man in Golf," but it's not always meant as a compliment. Karlsson is a student of various philosophies, some of which are way out there beyond Jesper Parnevik at his strangest. Good player, though. 1:08 PM: Are we on? Is this thing live? Okay, then, I’m John Garrity, and I’ll be bringing you the first-round highlights from the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills – assuming, of course, that my wife has paid the cable bill. I confess that I have never live-blogged before, but my handlers at SI and Golf.com assure me that there’s nothing to it. “It’s like reading to a sick aunt,” a veteran blogger told me, “but without all the wadded-up tissues.”
So let’s get right to it. The leaders as TNT goes on the air are Robert Karlsson, Jeev Milkha Singh, Anthony Kim and Sean O’Hair at 2-under par, with Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia a stroke behind. Mickelson, who got off to a horrible start with four bogeys on the back nine, has come roaring back, and I'm sure the cameras will stick with him as he finishes.
Half the field, of course, has yet to tee off. Stay tuned.