By petedirenzo
Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mike Walker, right, senior editor for Golf Magazine, will be live-blogging this afternoon's broadcast starting at 5 p.m. Connell Barrett blogged the early rounds. Join the conversation by posting comments at the link below.

7:43PM I couldn't sign
off without responding to one of our lonely Internet commentators. Dave
complained: "They gotta stop with the zillion commercials (at least in
Canada) hardly any golf on at all." Personally, I enjoyed the
commercials. Phil Mickelson shows a light comic touch in his Crown
Plaza ads
("When I feel like breaking something, what's your response?"
"How about breaking par?") and the Tina Fey/Martin Scorsese AmEx ads
are fun. I was actually there when they shot that TaylorMade black-and-white
driver ad. Sergio Garcia did a photo shoot with Golf Magazine and then filmed that
commerical at Riviera the morning of Michael Douglas' tournament this February. I was
catching a ride to the clubhouse on the back of Sergio's cart--because
one of his buddies took off with mine--when Sergio says, "I have to go
say hi to Michael Douglas." And then rolls his cart right up to a
started Douglas, who has that nervous celebrity "oh-no-I-have-to-make-small-talk-with-a-nobody" look until he sees who
it is and breaks into a big smile: "Sergio!"
That's all, folks. Thanks for reading. 7:37PM Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs says he was right that the guy who played the last three holes the best would win, he just picked the wrong guy (Sergio): "Harrington sure looks like a guy who's a force now. I mean, he's won three of the last six majors. He's just one tough guy. I didn't think it was Sergio's loss, although that shot in the water didn't help. Harrington made three putts from more than 10 feet on the last three holes. That's winning the golf tournament. And Curtis was like the uninvited guest who refused to leave when asked. Even though he has a godawful swing, Curtis is an underrated player. But he should have known not to wear a Lions hat on Sunday at a major." 7:25PM The Celtic Tiger drains his 15-foot par putt to basically win the tournament; Sergio bogeys and now we just have to wait for Ben Curtis not to drain his approach shot for eagle to grant Harrington his second-straight major.
Great fist pump too. Took the middle ground between Tiger's crazed piston and Phil's laconic wave. 7:16PM Sergio gets his bunker blast to 10 feet, a shot which doesn't impress Nick Faldo. That bunker sure did make Sergio look tiny. Just one shot back, Ben Curtis bogeys No. 17 with only his wife watching. 7:10PM On 18, Padraig hits his fairway-bunker shot fat and lands in the rough. Sergio, who left his second shot in the greenside bunker, runs off to use the bathroom. I know Sergio likes gamesmanship, but Seve never used that one. 6:56PM Sergio and Padraig both hit phenomenal tee shots on the par-3 17th. Harrington makes birdie, but Sergio misses his even-shorter putt. Now Harrington is alone in the lead at 3-under. Golf Magazine's resident Irishman Eamon Lynch emails:
"'Padraig' is Irish for 'balls like a pawnbroker's shop.' Pity that doesn't translate this side of the pond."
I feel like I'm in that Brad Pitt movie where he plays the incomprehensible Irish fighter. 6:46PM Prince from Minneapolis emails: Hey Camilo! I want my hat and shoes back!" Villegas_400_5 Photo by Fred Vuich/SI 6:36PM Sergio dunks one in the drink on No. 16. If you think that being Ryder Cup teammates makes Sergio and Padraig best buds, check out this exchange from Golf Magazine writer Eamon Lynch's interview with the British Open champ. Is it true that Sergio was crowding you on the first tee in the playoff (at Carmoustie), and you asked him to move? I think that was on 18. What happened? Where did you hear this? The grapevine. Ah, the grapevine... Well, on 18 I re-teed my ball, so I moved over to
where the players were standing. [Pauses] I don't know if I should be
going into this. I moved it closer to Sergio. So I just said, "Can I
have a bit of room, please?" It was a general statement because I
didn't want to be particular to anyone. I just got the response of
"Take your time." It didn't bother me. I'm just very finicky about
that. I've had to ask far bigger stars to move. I asked Seve. I've
asked Tiger. In fairness he had nowhere else to stand. I moved toward
him. He didn't move toward me.
6:28PM Apparently, no one is watching the last group of Charlie Wi, J.B. Holmes and co-leader Ben Curtis. Can't say I blame them. The Garcia-Harrington grudge match (remember Carnoustie?) is gripping stuff. 6:23PM As if to prove that it really is "his day," as Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs says, Sergio almost holes his approach shot on 15. Undaunted Harrington hits his approach to about 15 feet, but misses the putt, as does Sergio. After his flagstick-rattling approach shot, Sergio asked Peter Kostis what happened. Kostis rather diplomatically says that Sergio didn't complain that life is unfair only to him when hearing how close it was. 6:14PM Brady Riggs, Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, checks in to say we should
get ready for a fantastic finish: "It will be a lot of fun. Whoever
plays those last three holes--the toughest holes--the best will win.
Sergio, Curtis and Harrington have scrambled so well. Curtis hit only 5
of his first ten greens and Harrington easily cold have played himself
out of the tournament on the front nine without some great sand saves. Sergio hit some big putts. tthis might be his day. Phil
Mickelson is out because he couldn't scramble as well. It's strange:
Now that Phil is physically fit, his short-game shots aren't as good. I
wonder if his fitness regimen is affecting his touch." 6:01PM Watching Fanny Sunesson carry Henrik Stenson's bag has me convinced: If I ever make the Tour, I'm definitely going to have a burly woman caddie. Caddie_250_4

Photo by Getty Images 5:54PM Harrington birdies No. 13 to become co-leader (with Garcia) at 3-under, while Michael Phelps has JUST pulled to within two shots of the lead at the PGA ... from Beijing. Yes, he's that good! 5:48PM More on Sergio's putting, from Golf Magazine contributing teacher Joe
Parent, author of Zen Putting: Watch Garcia, and you'll see that his
rehearsal putting stroke and his actual stroke are identical," says
Parent, who has served as mental-game teacher to David Toms and Vijay
Singh. "He's more process-oriented today, instead of worrying about the
outcome and trying to 'steer' his putts. And watch him hold his finish.
That keeps his upper body down and in the putt. That's why he's making
all these 6 to 8 footers."
BTW, I'm still unconvinced about Sergio's putting. Going head-to-head with two-time major winner Harrington at Oakland Hills will be different than facing Paul Goydos in a playoff at Sawgrass. 5:43PM Harrington birdies No. 12 to get within one shot of Sergio, who's putting very un-Sergio-like today, that is, he's putting well. If his blade looks like a golden oldie, that's because it is. Golf.com gearhead David Dusek reports: "It's a Scotty Cameron Newport 2. Sergio went back to it just before he won The Players. It's the same putter he used in 1999 and 2000 when he was actually a good putter. Stan Utley, his putting guru, is a big proponent of heel-toe weighted putters like it." 5:37PM Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs, a good friend of the blog,
says what were seeing today doesn't bode well for the Americans in next
month's Ryder Cup: "I can't believe the difference in class between
Sergio and Phil. Sergio's ball-striking has been out of this world.
He's hitting all the shots: punches, draws, fades. Meanwhile Phil is
all over the place, even shanking his famous flop shot. Sergio has
outclassed everyone so far. With Sergio and Stenson and Harrington all
playing well, this might be an uncomfortable Ryder Cup preview for
(U.S. captain) Paul Azinger." 5:20PM Padraig Harrington just misses the hole (and a needed birdie)
with his greenside chip on 11. Golf.com producer Anne Szeker emails: "Did
you ever notice that the scarier Harrington looks, the more he likes
his shot?" Harrington_300_3 Photo by Getty Images 5:12PM Hello, I'm Mike Walker and I'm live from behind a great wall to give
you readers your first extended look at a fascinating yet forbidding
land, where I'm unable to access even the Red Lobster restaurant's web  site, and the populous is forbidden to exchange in the brave and
thoughtful political discourse we Americans take for granted when
watching Keith Olbermann and Sean Hannity. Oh, wait, wrong sporting
event. I'm actually watching the PGA Championship at my girlfriend's
apartment, a more favorable spot than my colleagues have at cool, rainy
Oakland Hills. Golf Magazine's Cam Morfit emails that the weather in
Michigan right now is "odd. It keeps changing: spitting rain, sunshine,
swirling winds and generally cool." Needless to say, tough guy Padraig
Harington is wearing a thin, short-sleeve shirt.
  5:01PM: My pre-round pick J.B. Holmes is now (gulp) 7-over on the day. (Among other predictions I've made: Beta tapes are here to stay, Dexys Midnight Runners will outsell the Beatles, and Britney will win Mother of the Year.) Ah, well. Soon, Mike Walker will take over live-blog duties. Enjoy!

4:53PM: Sergio is looking better and better in this Tiger-free major. Which has prompted Golf.com's Eamon Lynch to ask, "What's the Spanish word for 'asterisk?' " 4:49PM: Sergio's putts aren't just dropping; they're dropping dead center. They'd be going in if the hole was two inches wide, instead of four-and-a-quarter. 4:43PM: Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brian Mogg is impressed that Wi is hanging on in these conditions, currently tied for fifth. "When it's wet like this, the course plays a lot longer and softer, and Wi is a low-ball hitter. That makes the course longer for him, because he doesn't get the roll that he's used to. That should be hurting him, but he's hanging on." 4:37PM: Blog reader David, in Canada, is watching the action and has a bone to pick with CBS: "They gotta stop with the zillion commercials. Hardly any golf on at all."
On a related note, David's blog post was brought to you by Cheez-Its. 4:24PM: Sergio hit a pin-seeking 3-wood on 8 that the wind slapped into a bunker. SI's Dick Friedman (see below) is having second thoughts about his "things happen in 3's" theory. He points out that Spain's Azahara Munoz could win the U.S. Women's Amateur today. Hmmm... 4:05PM: Stenson just rammed his birdie putt on 6 against the back of the cup, but it didn't drop, leaving him with a 2-footer. Using that kind of pace is a no-no, says A.J. Bonar, the head pro at A.J. Golf School in Carlsbad, California. "When putting, the most important thing is pace. Get your pace first, and try to have your putt trickle to a few inches. When you try to ram a putt in like that, the hole becomes much smaller, and you leave a longer comebacker if you miss." Which is exactly how Garcia has been putting today. 3:57PM: SI's Friedman predicts this winning call from Nantz: "The rain...and Spain!" 3:47PM: Sergio fears no bird's-nest lie, showing deft touch with a half wedge, then drops his short birdie putt on 6 to tie for the lead. "It's a new Sergio, and he looks good," Nick Faldo notes. Sports Illustrated's Dick Friedman's take on El Nino finding his major mojo so far on Sunday: "There is in Sergio's favor the 'things happen in 3's' factor: Spain's EuroCup win, Nadal's Wimbledon victory over Federer, and... Garcia?" 3:44PM: Walker says we could hear this Nantz-ism, Bon Jovi fans: "Oh, we're halfway there. Ooh, ohh, living on a Prayad." 3:36PM: Speaking of Bens, we've heard a lot this week about Ben Hogan popularizing "The Monster" as Oakland Hills' nickname. What few remember, though, is that before the 1951 U.S. Open, Hogan called his shot, Babe Ruth-style, predicting, "I will bring the Monster to its knees." Then he did. Can you imagine a top player today showing that kind of brass? 3:21PM: OK, it's time to start guessing how Jim Nantz will punctuate the action when the winning putt falls. You know, the way he said, "Rich and famous!" when Beem won, and "Vijay means victory" when Singh claimed his first PGA. Some possibilities, based on the latest leaderboard:
-"Wi is the champion, my friends!" (Maybe Nantz is a Queen fan.)
-"This Surge is working!" (Nahh, too political.)
-"Ben there, done that!" (Not bad.)
Send me your own ideas, and I'll see about emailing them to Jim. 3:13PM: Watching greenside maestro Mickelson, Golf.com's Mike Walker chimes in: "If I ever start a band, it's going to be called Super Phil Mega Lob." 3:03PM: So far, Sergio looks as comfortable in a major as he does in the Ryder Cup, where he's almost unbeatable. Earlier this year, Garcia told Paul Mahoney in Golf Magazine, "I need to get some of those good vibes from the Ryder Cup into my stroke-play game," adding that he plays better when paired with someone he's comfortable with. His playing partner today? Ryder teammate Padraig Harrington. Paddy just might, to quote Paul Azinger's homespun term, "inspirate" the Spaniard today. Adds Mahoney, "No Tiger. Playing with Harrington. Putting well. It can't get any better for Sergio than this." 2:51PM: Sergio with a 3-3-3 start, including a silky eagle putt on the second hole. Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Martin Hall is keeping tabs on the action and has some thoughts on Garcia. "One thing amateurs can learn from Sergio is what a positive attitude can do for you," Hall says. "He has learned to stop beating himself up, like the way he put a positive spin on 4-putting the 17th earlier this week. So he's putting better, in part, because he's learned to be his own best friend. If he wins today, at the same tournament where he almost won in 1999, in a sense he would have come full circle." 2:39PM: I'm not trying to hex Ben Curtis, but the Detroit Lions (whose colors he's wearing today) haven't won a playoff game since 1991. Just sayin'... 2:28PM: Leader Ben Curtis just calmly brushed in his putt on the first hole. Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brian Mogg says Curtis' play this week is no surprise. "Some guys just rise to the occasion," Mogg says. "You don't hear about him for months at a time, but then he turns up in majors. Clearly, the swing changes he's been working on with Butch Harmon have paid dividends. His swing plane is more shallow and more reliable." 2:18PM: Umm, is it too late to take back my J.B. pick? He had some serious issues with pine trees on the first hole. "He's in a mess," Faldo said. It will be interesting to see how J.B. handles the spotlight today. A source close to him told me that J.B. really struggled with all the attention and glory he received after winning the 2006 FBR Open, just weeks into his rookie season. It was too much too soon. "He's just a simple kid from Kentucky, and all of a sudden they were calling him the next John Daly." He didn't handle it well. And so far, he's not handling Sunday pressure well, either. 2:10PM: Hey, golf fans! Welcome back to Golf.com's live blog for the last day (weather permitting) of the 90th PGA Championship. Let's hope Jim Nantz actually gets to call the action, not narrate Doppler radar images all day. (I haven't seen this many "large fronts" since the season finale of "The Girls Next Door.")
My pick today: J.B. Holmes. While he's (gulp) 203rd on Tour in driving accuracy, Oakland Hills' rough seems to penalize wild shots less than those that just miss the fairway, which bodes well for J.B. And he has an underrated short game.
Who's your pick? Sound off on who you think will hoist the Wanamaker Trophy.

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