AKRON, Ohio (AP) — After a long and difficult round, Colin Montgomerie was less than thrilled to have to deal with one more cup.
After shooting an opening-round 2-over 72 Thursday at the Bridgestone Invitational, Montgomerie was not pleased when he was asked to provide a urine sample as part of the PGA Tour’s new anti-doping policy.
The 45-year-old Montgomerie acknowledged he didn’t really know what the procedure was. Then, as he left the scorer’s trailer, he turned to his caddie and said, “This is a complete waste of time.”
It’s a brave, new world on tour. Tim Clark has yet to win on the American tour but already holds the distinction of being the first player tested by the Tour.
Clark was among four players tested after the first round of the AT&T National earlier this month at Congressional.
“I think I was the first guy off the golf course that day at Washington,” he said. “I guess they wanted to get some negative tests in before anything happens. I guess they figured I’m one of the least likely to be on something. You have to go to the gym to be on steroids.”
Clark doesn’t like the idea of drug testing, but he figures it’s a sign of the times. And he felt the process was fine, taking about 15 minutes before he could provide his sample.
FREQUENT FLYER Sergio Garcia took a week off after the British Open, flying to his home in Switzerland before returning to Spain for several days of practice, then traveling back across the Atlantic for this week’s Bridgestone Invitational.
Asked if he had ever calculated how many miles he travels in a year, he cracked, “Why? Why bother? You want me to go even more crazy?”
TURNING POINT A dismal year might just be brightening for Chris DiMarco.
After shoulder surgery last September, DiMarco has had difficulty getting untracked this year. Missing 11 cuts in 19 starts, he has plummeted to No. 156 on the money list.
Distraught after a bad second round that led to another missed cut at the Canadian Open, he drove from Toronto to Toledo, Ohio, to meet and then consult with teaching pro Rick Smith. He then had Smith tag along on a Wednesday practice round at the Bridgestone.
The result was an encouraging 68 in the first round.
“I hit the ball about as solid as I’ve hit it in a really long time,” said DiMarco, who tied for fourth a year ago in Akron.
For a change, he feels as if he’s on the road back to respectability.
Told that he needs to make up a lot of ground to qualify for the FedEx Cup events, DiMarco took it as a challenge.
“If I hit the next couple of weeks like I hit it today, that’s not going to be a problem,” he said.
NOT SO ROUGH A year ago at the Bridgestone, the rough was higher and the greens were as fast as a ball bearing on a granite floor. As a result, the players in the select field had an average score of almost 3-over – putting Firestone Country right behind the three 2007 American major championship venues in terms of difficulty.
That’s not the case this year, although the old course is still no pushover.
In Thursday’s opening round, with the greens still moist from heavy rains a day earlier and the rough considerably shorter, 48 of the 80 players shot par or better.
PGA Tour officials are experimenting with the height of the rough at this and other tournament sites to determine how it impacts scoring. They are also taking a look at graded rough, with the thick stuff becoming longer and more penal the farther a shot strays from the fairway.
Asked what players want, PGA Tour policy board member Stewart Cink said, “They want skill to play a factor in every single shot. And if you have rough like you have out here today, it takes a lot of skill to maneuver a ball on the green when you’ve got trees in front of you but you can do it if you hit a really good shot. I think the players really like what they see here.”
Phil Mickelson sure did.
“This year Firestone is one of my favorite golf courses that we have on tour,” he said after a 68 that included a circus-like birdie-3 from out of the deep rough and trees on the closing hole. “Last year, not so much. But this year all the guys are talking about how much they love it because we can play it. We can hit shots, we can be creative and challenge ourselves with some recoveries like on 18. That wouldn’t have been a possibility last year.”
NO NEED Padraig Harrington joked a year ago that he was disappointed when he wasn’t introduced as the reigning British Open champion on the first tee at the Bridgestone Invitational.
This year, after winning the championship at Royal Birkdale two weeks ago, he was properly acknowledged.
“I didn’t need that this year,” he said with a laugh. “I know I’m the champion.”
DIVOTS Anthony Kim, who took 60 or 70 swings during batting practice with the Boston Red Sox on Monday night, said he remains sore and blamed that for his 71. … After winning his first PGA Tour event last week at the Canadian Open, Chez Reavie got a congratulatory text message from hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, who plays at the same club in Arizona. … Ernie Els “missed a lot of short ones” and still mustered a 69. … Despite a double-bogey on the 18th hole, Vijay Singh had a 67. … Lee Westwood’s second shot at the par-5 second hole flew the green and stuck in a hat that a spectator wasn’t wearing but had fastened on his belt. … Only one player among the top five players on the leaderboard (Daniel Chopra) has won this year on tour.