5 things we learned on Thursday at the 2018 PGA Championship

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5 things we learned on Thursday at the 2018 PGA Championship

No doubt the media makes more of it than the player’s, but Glory’s Last Shot is pretty appropriate for how the hard-core golf fan views the PGA Championship. Returning to Bellerive in St. Louis for the first time in 26 years, the weather certainly gave organizers fits in the days leading up to round one. By Thursday, all was well and no one shot in the 50s, so the course held up well. We learned a few things today at this prototypical Robert Trent Jones golf course, so let’s reduce them to five and see what you think.

5) Tiger Woods still knows how to salvage a round

With the talk from Rory McIlroy about Tiger Woods needing to learn how to win again, we do know that the great one can save a rotten start from turning into a rotten ending. As incredibly unbelievable as a bogey-double bogey start can be, equal parts laudable was his focus. Woods made four birdies and one bogey the rest of the way to remain within 6 shots of the lead, inside the top 50. It’s not the start he wanted, but nor was the 40 on the front nine Thursday at the 1997 Masters. Here’s to Tiger Woods putting 54 holes together over the next three days, and giving us more of what we had in England, in July.

+3 in his first two holes
-3 in his next 15 holes is currently T28 at the


4) They used to talk about Gary Woodland that way

It wasn’t so long ago that he was the greatest athlete on the PGA Tour, until folks started tipping their caps to Dustin Johnson. They talked about how long and strong he was, at least until Brooks Koepka came along. That was Gary Woodland, a guy who has done everything correctly, but hasn’t reaped the rewards he might have been due. Woodland has won 3 times on tour, including this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. He hasn’t won a major title, and doesn’t show well in the big four events. So, of course, he’s leading at Bellerive, by one stroke over Rickie Fowler. Woodland had a 30 on the inward half, counting 7 birdies and 1 bogey in his 64. Yes, he can win. No, he probably won’t be around by Saturday afternoon. Yes, I would like to see him around on Sunday morning.

Company at the top. is tied for the lead at the


3) Speaking of Rickie Fowler…

If Harry Potter has Nearly-Headless Nick, then round one of the PGA Championship of 2018 can claim Nearly-Flawless Fowler. The orange one donned a yellow shirt, in honor of the late Jarrod Lyle, then went onto the course and posted 6 birds against 1 boge. He makes great commercials, he gives back to the game in every possible manner, so if there is one golfer in the field that folks want to see with a major title to his credit, it’s Oh-Rickie-You’re-So-Fowler. We know that he can get it around at the Masters and the Open, but can he improve on last year’s T5 at Quail Hollow? You don’t know, we don’t know, and Rickie doesn’t know. Stay tuned.


No shortage of ????s for today.

— PGA of America (@PGA)

2) Dustin Johnson is in the mix, don’cha know?

He ain’t world number one for nothing. If you give him a straightforward golf course, along with moderate conditions, he’ll be there. He might not have handled Royal Lytham and the Open that well, but the tall, long drink of water from Myrtle Beach seems tailor-fit for the PGA at Bellerive. Johnson had it to 5-under today, before two unexpected bogeys brought him back to 3-under and a tie for 5th. He doesn’t have to be impeccable, but he does have to minimize the mistakes that derail the D-train. He got sloppy at Shinnecock and it cost him, and he went awry at Augusta, with the same results. With as much work as he put into his wedges and putting, that shouldn’t happen. DJ, you’ve got 19 tour wins and 1 major. That seems a bit lopsided, so let’s start to balance the books.

DJ gets the people going after an impressive chip-in! ????

— PGA of America (@PGA)

1) This leaderboard is mahvelous

No one remembers Billy Crystal’s SNL send-up of Fernando Lamas, because they aren’t old like me. With Day, Poulter, Z. Johnson, Kisner, Rose, Pieters, and Perez in the top ten, along with guys like Brandon Stone, Austin Cook, and Ollie Schniederjans, waiting to break through, Bellerive did not disappoint with a collection of who-dey and where-from. Even if the course bends to the left way too often, even if it takes driver out of the hands of much of the field too frequently, Bellerive will identify a worthy major champion on Sunday, and we’re betting on … Kisner, to finally break through.

“That was perfect!”

Kevin Kisner gets the nice ???? to fall.

— PGA of America (@PGA)

5 things we learned on Thursday at the 2018 PGA Championship

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