My own mindless meanderings from Thursday:
The Blue Monster looked more like Papa Smurf…. the storm that passed through earlier Thursday that toppled trees and downed scoreboards and camera towers made the course utterly defenseless. Hunter Mahan, currently at 7-under through 11 holes before play was suspended for darkness Thursday evening, was in route to shoot a course record before the horn sounded.
Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, and Luke Donald – the BIG THREE pairing on Thursday – took advantage of the easy conditions. Both Kaymer and Donald are 5-under through 10 holes, while Westwood is 4-under.
While a good portion of the field brought this course to its knees on Thursday, Mickelson, Woods, and McDowell struggled to simply keep up with the group ahead, let alone take advantage of the benign conditions. About an hour after their round, an official informed them that they were already 4 minutes off pace. Mickelson can’t take advantage of a decent showing off the tee, Woods can’t buy a putt outside of 4 feet, and G-Mac hasn’t done anything well except scramble and make some hard pars. This pairing has failed miserably to deliver, thus far anyway. I don’t see it changing on Friday….
Jim Furyk and Anthony Kim continue their struggles this season, with Furyk at +1 through 11 holes and AK at +4 through 13.
The TV Coverage
I never thought I’d say this – but the Golf Channel coverage has improved leaps and bounds with the NBC crew merging to help out with the telecast. Mark Rolfing, Roger Maltbie, and Gary Koch have made golf coverage on this network tolerable. I was also pleased to see that the coverage was balanced with plenty of airtime between several groups, fighting the urge to cover every swing that Tiger Woods made.
The only thing I would suggest is taking Kelly Tilghman off the air, as she has more or less turned into a babbling blabbermouth. In the span of the first 30 minutes of coverage on Thursday, she reminded the viewers on no less than three occasions that Rory Sabbatini won last week’s Honda Classic Championship. Peter Jacobson threw out the most mindless quote of the day, remarking that he enjoys watching Dustin Johnson’s excellent wedge game and putting. Jake – check out the stats. He’s far from excellent.
All in all – a good day of golf for quite a few players, at least from the players that we’d expect to play well in the scoring conditions that we saw on Thursday. As the course dries out and the winds pick up as we move into Friday and onto the weekend – who knows how this will unfold.