Medinah doesn’t live up to billing

MEDINAH, Ill. —That big showdown between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson was overrated.
So was Medinah.
In the 193 rounds since this major switched to stroke play in 1958, par has never been such a pushover. Lucas Glover and Chris Riley each shot six-under 66 yesterday to lead the assault on that 7,561-yard cream puff called Medinah Country Club, which yielded 60 scores under par.
If that wasn’t enough, it didn’t take long for the Ryder Cup to come into focus.
Glover made sure of that, with three birdies on his last four holes to put his name atop the leaderboard. He is 14th in the standings and needs to finish at least eighth for a chance to earn a spot on the U.S. team—and even then someone could pass him.
When he walked off the 18th green, one glance at the leaderboard showed his work is far from done.
Billy Andrade, the seventh alternate at the PGA and 33rd in the standings (very much alive for a spot on the team), was one shot behind after a 67 while the group at 68 included Stewart Cink, J.J. Henry, and Davis Love III, who took triple bogey on the 17th hole when he whiffed a shot with his wedge.
“It’s just like looking at a leaderboard on the 18th tee on Sunday if you’re in the hunt,” Glover said, referring to the names of Ryder Cup hopefuls. “You’re all vying for the same thing. You all want it, and that’s the goal.”
Mike Weir of Bright’s Grove, Ont. was tied for 61st after opening with an even-par 72 while Stephen Ames of Calgary was tied for 100th with a 74.
British Open champion Woods and Masters champion Mickelson—along with U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy—are chasing a second major title this year, and all of them opened with a 69.
That’s not a bad start at a major, but certainly nothing special on this record day.
“We all kept ourselves right in the ball game,” Woods said.
The only thing they didn’t deliver was drama—from either the dynamics of their relationship or their games.
“He’s in his own world and we take care of our game and our business,” Mickelson said. “It’s a fun day and we shake hands afterwards.
“We both played OK today [Thursday], but we both had a chance to go a little lower.”
Mighty Medinah was there for the taking. When the PGA Championship was played here seven years ago, only 35 players broke par and the course played about a stroke harder.
The 60 sub-par rounds broke by two the previous PGA Championship record for any round—set in 1995 in the second round at Riviera.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it,” Cink said. “If somebody shoots 20-under-par this week, then they are going to be the PGA champion, and they are going to have to go through a whole lot to win this tournament.
“It’s a tough win no matter what.”
It could be tougher with so many players challenging. Those 60 players were separated by five shots after one day.
Billy Mayfair—two weeks removed from surgery for testicular cancer—was among the leaders at six-under until he ran out of steam on the hillier back nine and settled in at 69.