CHASKA, Minn. (AP) — The defending PGA champion not only hosts a dinner for past champions, he selects a special gift. Shaun Micheel gave them a guitar at the 2004 dinner, while Phil Mickelson gave the champions a scrapbook of newspaper clippings from their PGA victory.
Padraig Harrington made some noise at his dinner Tuesday night.
His gift was a “bodhran,” which is a traditional Irish drum that looks like a tambourine without the bells.
“Micheel gave us a guitar,” Rich Beem said. “All I need now is a bass player and I’m good to go.”
Beem was joking, for he and other past PGA winners were impressed with the thought Harrington put into his gift. Even better was Harrington’s explanation, which according to Beem and Paul Azinger, went something like this:
“In the hands of the right Irishman, it’s makes a lovely sound,” Harrington told them. “In the hands of a 6-year-old, I’m not so sure. You might want to keep it on a high shelf.”
The menu also was traditional Irish, everything from leek and potato soup to Irish beef stew braised in Guinness to grilled salmon with Irish Champ. The three-time major winner had said before the dinner that he wanted an Irish theme, but didn’t want anyone to starve. Beem gave the meal high grades, then also shared Harrington’s closing thought at dinner.
“I’m off to the Waffle House with the Mrs. I’m not sure if I’ll be upset if I see any you there or not.”
MONTY AND SANDY: Just when Colin Montgomerie thought his dustup with Sandy Lyle at the British Open was over, they ran into each other Wednesday at Hazeltine.
Montgomerie, appointed European captain for the Ryder Cup, received an invitation to the PGA Championship. Lyle, who was not selected captain, is at Hazeltine working for Sky Sport.
Lyle caused quite a ruckus at Turnberry when he was said to three British newspapers that walking off the course at Royal Birkdale in 2008 could not have hurt his chances at being captain because Montgomerie did far something worse. Lyle brought up an incident four years ago when Monty was accused of cheating for placing his ball in a good lie after a storm delay.
“It’s interesting, I didn’t think Sandy was coming over here to commentate for our British Sky television here for the tournament,” he said. “And I had just managed to speak to Sandy, which was good. I can’t, unfortunately, say what was said. But that matter is closed, and I personally thought it was closed 4 1/2 years ago.”
Then he paused, and smiled.
“It is now, believe me,” he said.
IN FORM: The PGA Championship used to have a reputation of producing first-time major champions, from Wayne Grady and Shaun Micheel, to stars like Vijay Singh and Davis Love III. That’s no longer the case, as the last five champions of the final major have been Padraig Harrington, Tiger Woods (twice), Phil Mickelson and Singh.
What stands out among recent champions is what kind of year they have had.
Micheel in 2003 is the only winner who had not won until the PGA Championship. That remains Micheel’s only victory.
David Toms (2001), Mark Brooks (1996), Singh (2004) and Rich Beem (2002) all had their best seasons the year they won the PGA Championship. Brooks had won twice before his major victory at Valhalla.
“I think it makes a difference between the ears of the golfer,” Stewart Cink said. “It’s a huge confidence builder. It can only help.”
Among the multiple winners this year: Woods, Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Geoff Ogilvy, Brian Gay and Martin Kaymer.
ON THE BAG: For the last couple of years, TaylorMade has been making custom bags for its staff players at the majors – green at the Masters, a patriotic theme at the U.S. Open. There was a crown above the logo at the British Open, a reference to remains of the castle belonging to Robert the Bruce near the ninth green.
The logo for the PGA Championship has “2” in the Wanamaker Trophy because it’s the second PGA held at Hazeltine. Beneath the company logo are three feathers from the Sioux tribe that once inhabited the land. The initials “SH” are for Susan Hazeltine, the first teacher in the county after whom the golf club was named.
But what stumped the players – and even some company officials not in the know – were the initials “GLS.”
One thought it had to do with a sugar operation on the land where the golf course was built. Finally, it all made sense. The PGA Championship is known as “Glory’s Last Shot” – GLS, for short.
“It’s getting too complicated for me,” Kenny Perry said.
THE OTHER GUY: Rich Beem won the PGA Championship the last time it was held at Hazeltine, but even he expects to be forgotten during the first two rounds. His playing partners are defending champion Padraig Harrington and Tiger Woods.
Beem made light of being the third wheel when asked to speak at the dinner for PGA champions Tuesday night.
He told stories of his relationship with Hazeltine members over the last seven years, how he has made a dozen trips to the golf course and now is an honorary member.
Beem said he looked at Harrington and Woods and pulled a line straight from the movie, “Anchorman.”
“I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal,” he said. “People know me.”
DIVOTS: A PGA spokesman said Michael Letzig withdrew as an alternate, making Tim Petrovic next in line should anyone else pull out. The only possibility was Paul Casey, who injured rib muscles. Casey, No. 3 in the world, is expected to at least try to play Thursday. … Two young boys showed a some ingenuity as they tried to get autographs from behind a railing next to the path leading to the clubhouse. They purposely dropped their hats in the path, waiting for players to retrieve it for them – and sign it.