Walker: Live Blogging the Round 1 of the PGA

Stuck at the office with no TV? Fear not, Michael Walker Jr., senior editor for GOLF Magazine,
will be here to fill you in on all the goings-on at Oakland
Hills. Stay with him from 4-7 p.m. EST as he live blogs the
broadcast. John Garrity, senior writer for Sports Illustrated blogged the early rounds. Join the conversation by posting comments at the link below.   

7:06 p.m. Eldrick from Orlando emails: "Thanks to you and Garrity for writing this blog. Since I'm not watching this event, it's a great way to catch up. Go Dodgers! Man-ny! Man-ny!"
Thanks, Eldrick. The players are back on the course, but TNT has switched over to Law & Order, so see you tomorrow. 6:55 p.m. TNT shows Freddie Couples, Mark Calcavecchia and Angel Cabrera carrying their considerable heft out to the course. And people say golfers aren't elite athletes! Didn't they see John Daly today? He doesn't look like the guy who cleaned your pool, he looks like a guy who filled it with Bud Light and then drank it.

6:46 p.m. The guys are back on the practice green, where TNT caught Vijay missing two four-foot putts. He's 3-over so far, but keep an eye on him. How well do you have to be playing to win a tournament where you miss more than half of your putts from 4-to-8 feet, like Vijay did at Firestone last week? If he starts hitting just a couple more putts, watch out. 6:29 p.m. Mel from Malibu emails: "TNT probably used the China's weather manipulation technology to make it rain today so they could show highlights of Tiger Woods' 63 at last year's PGA Championship."
I guess Mel's not feeling the Jonathan Byrd era. 6:16 p.m. During the rain delay, I thought I'd check out what's on the other channels. Wolf Blitzer asks if the U.S. can pull out of Iraq by 2010 on CNN's The Situation Room; E! is counting down the wildest cop-show moments; and ESPN's Around the Horn team debates Brett Favre versus the Packers.
In other news, TNT interviewed a guy from the PGA who said play will resume around 6:30 p.m. and that they'd be able to play until 8:30 p.m. Which means slow-playing Ben Crane's final group should be able to make the turn. 5:59 p.m. TNT has switched over to highlights of past PGA Championships during this rain delay. Too bad. One of my favorite parts of baseball rain delays is listening to the announcers kill time by telling stories. Personally, I'd love to hear Feherty make fun of McCord for an hour. 5:55 p.m. Our first comment of the live blog is from Mike Richardson, who can't believe Tiger said he probably isn't going to watch the PGA Championship and said he only watched the last couple holes of the British Open. (Tiger made the comments Wednesday on Scott Van Pelt's radio show.) "Oh yeah? Every serious golfer, amateur or professional, watches/follows the Majors. Could he have matched Harrington's performance over the last 9 at Birkdale, assuming he could have coped with the weather over the previous days to be in contention. What score did Tiger do in the storm on the Sat at Muirfield, 80, 82? And he said he probably won't watch any of the PGA Championship this week". Oh yeah? Is this Tiger "mind gaming"? No one is going to put the supposed "asterisk" against the British Open because he wasn't there, and the same will probably apply to the PGA. The game, whether it's golf or any other sport, is and always will be bigger than the individual." Mike, first I want to say that you've vaulted into the upper echelon of Internet writers by spelling "asterisk" correctly. I don't believe that Tiger didn't watch the British Open either, since his buddy Mark O'Meara said during the tournament that Tiger was watching. Plus, I just think with the crazy weather at Birkdale, Norman's run and the fact that he's been stuck on the couch for a month, he'd tune in, at least inbetween innings of Dodgers games. 5:44 p.m. Originally I thought Ben Curtis was just a big football fan when I saw him playing in an NFL shirt. The truth is that he has a deal with the NFL to wear the team colors of the closest team to the tournament he's playing in, which is why Ben's wearing Detroit Lions gear at Oakland Hills.
But seriously, is there a less intimidating golfer on Tour than Curtis? The NFL ought to consider Jason Gore, with his face-painted. 5:31 p.m. Co-leader Jonathan Byrd would make a fitting champion this week since he modeled his swing after Ben Hogan, who gave Oakland Hills its "Monster" nickname when he won the U.S. Open here in 1951. Byrd's also like Hogan in that he's a great ballstriker and a lousy putter, but he's probably nicer to his caddies. 5:26 p.m. It's not exactly "A Boy Named Sue", but I'm guessing Brian Gay (currently 2-under) is a pretty tough guy. 5:17 p.m. Heartfelt if out-of-place tribute to Braves announcer Skip Carey, who died at age 68 on Sunday, from TNT's Enrie Johnson interrupts the PGA broadcast. "A one-of-a-kind voice has fallen silent," Johnson says. So have I. 5:08 p.m. Here comes the TNT A-team. After musical chairs of four announcing teams, Jim Nantz and David Feherty have taken over the booth for the afterwork crown. Feherty is here after getting in another bicycle accident. Soon after, Kenny Perry misses a putt when his ball stops practically over the hole. Perry's high ball flight and all-round hot play should make him a contender here. Plus, in a year when Tiger wins the U.S. Open with a broken leg, Padraig Harrington takes the British Open with a sprained wrist, don't discount the injury factor. Perry is out there with scratched cornea! It's like Rocky.  4:53 p.m. A birdie on No. 8 puts Andres Romero just one stroke off the lead. After finishing in the Top 10 in three of his first five majors, including third at the 2007 British Open, Romero's been quiet so far this year. He's a fun guy and an exciting player to watch. It would be nice to see him in the mix this weekend. Extra credit to anyone who can explain his nickmame "Pigu." Even Romero claims he doesn't know what it means. 4:42 p.m. Little-known Vince Jewell, playing with Ben Curtis, is trying unsuccessfully to capture Sergio's all-yellow look from the 2005 British Open (which led to Tiger's rumored text message: "I just bludgeoned Tweety Bird"). Canary yellow hat, pale yellow pants, but a white shirt. C'mon Vince, be bold! 4:36 p.m. Guess the grounds crew at Oakland Hills can put away the firehose they've been using to soften the greens. The PGA has posted a weather watch, umbrellas are open, and Kyra Sedgewick is wearing a raincoat in TNT's The Closer promos.

4:30 p.m. Just got my first live report from Oakland Hills. Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brian Mogg, a good friend of the Press Tent Blog, called from the course, where he was with his student Bart Bryant.Bryant shot 77, but the real story was how fast and firm the course was playing. Bryant flew seven balls into the middle of the fairway and only four stayed in the short stuff. He also hit eight greens –- not just the edge but near the center –- and only three stayed on.“Scores are going to get higher this afternoon,” Mogg said. “Some holes are just not accessible.”Mogg said the current wisdom that 3-under will win the tournament needs to be adjusted higher with the greens getting so firm. The course will also strongly favor long hitters, Mogg said.  Bryant played with Robert Karlsson, who shot 2-under. The key difference, Mogg said, is that Karlsson was able to hit 6-irons into greens where Bryant was hitting 3-irons. The more lofted shot will hold the green, but with a 3-iron, Bryant didn’t have much of a chance.“I think the guys who can hit it up and keep it on the green will be tough to beat,” Mogg said. “Plus the grinders like Furyk.” 4:20 p.m. Who would have predicted that the mild Irishman Padraig Harrington would seize golf's center stage after Tiger's surgery? Three weeks away from his final nine 32 at the British Open, he starts the PGA with three-straight birdies. Even with a couple bogeys, his confidence practically jumps off the screen. Get ready for more Padraig this weekend. 4:00 p.m. Yikes! Me taking over from John Garrity is like Tom Brokaw sending it over to Wayne and Garth, but I'll give it a go. So far, I've gotten two PGA questions from the peanut gallery: aka my co-workers
Golf Magazine senior editor Alan Bastable asks how Freddie Couples qualified. Answer: Couples is playing under a special exemption. producer Anne Szeker emails: "So Adam Scott has been single since the Masters and no one bothered to mention this!?" Answer: I was afraid my girlfriend might hear.

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by Kevin Cunningham