Thursday, August 17, 2006

Breakfast With Tiger and Phil

It takes a while to get to the 10th tee at Medinah Country Club. It's a good 25-minute walk through what feels like a giant park but there were thousands lining the 10th fairway Thursday morning when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Geoff Ogilvy teed off in the PGA Championship.
There were, by one officially unofficial count, 25 photographers documenting their every swing, move, smile, sneer and yawn when play began and probably another 75 or 100 semi-official types scurrying inside the ropes to get an unobstructed view of the big show.
Phil and Tiger had a brief handshake on the tee then went and stood on opposite sides of the tee waiting to start.
Woods rattled his opening tee shot off a tree, chopped out, hit a miserable third shot that missed the green, skinnied a chip shot 20 feet past the hole and opened with a double bogey that must've tasted like yesterday's coffee.
Phil, meanwhile, hit the first par-5 in two, made an easy birdie then followed with a birdie at the second, at which point he was three shots ahead of Woods and one ahead of Ogilvy, who at least had the good manners not to stick the U.S. Open trophy in Phil's face.
If you went looking for evidence of a cold war, it was hard to find. They were just guys going about the business of playing golf. As the round unfolded, Phil ran into a case of the sideways while Tiger found his rhythm, eventually matching Phil's 2-under par 34 on the first nine.
Ogilvy quietly played along, making an occasional birdie and an occasional bogey.
For seekers of high drama, it fell a little short on the juice meter but Thursday mornings are tough to get excited about.
Unless you're Billy Andrade, who occupied the top of the leaderboard most of the morning. He made it look easy.
And, if you wanted to see him play, you didn't have to fight the crowd.