PGA Championship 2016: Five Things We Learned Thursday at Baltusrol

July 28, 2016

1. A bearded Jimmy Walker is playing like it’s 2014 again. Our unlikely early leader is 37-year-old Jimmy Walker, who shot an impressive five-under 65 in Thursday’s opening round. Many saw Walker’s play as a return to form, harkening back to his glory days in 2014-15, when he won five titles.

2. Rory McIlroy is still struggling. Hopes that McIlroy might turn around a lackluster showing so far this season took a major hit at Baltusrol on Thursday. McIlroy struggled with his putting all day and wound up with a four over score of 74, tied for 125th and in danger of missing the cut.

3. Phil Mickelson loves his fans — and his fans love him. Mickelson, paired with McIlroy and Jason Day, also got off to a rough start. But he turned things around after encountering an optimistic fan. “I was four over through 11 and I’m down. I’m hard on myself,” Mickelson said after his round. “The people helped to really kind of pick me back up. I remember walking off of No. 3 and a guy said, ‘Hey, you’ve got a lot of golf left, you’re not out of this, let’s get going.’ He’s right. Got a lot of golf left. I came back and made some birdies.” Mickelson recovered enough to walk away with a one over score of 71.

4. Sometimes gravity is a golfer’s best friend. Both Bubba Watson and John Senden were lucky enough to watch their putts linger on the lip of the hole, in Senden’s case for several long seconds, before tumbling in. That’s the kind of surprise worth waiting for.

5. There’s no such thing as too much Beef. Crowds lined up to watch Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston tee off, and they weren’t disappointed. He hit a shot over a scoreboard on the 15th hole, to the delight of onlookers. Beef also found his doppelganger in a Baltusrol groundskeeper.