Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cheeseheads Rule Day 1 of the 2011 PGA Championship

In an effort to get more time sensitive content on to go along with my traditional long form "Wednesday What Happened" posts and "Sunday Funday" posts I am going to start putting up "Quick Thoughts" posts. Obviously the "Quick Thoughts" posts will be a little bit shorter than my traditional posts but I aim to deliver the same quality content in a slightly shorter form.

My inaugural "Quick Thoughts" post will cover my favorite Cheesehead golfers dominating the first day of the 2011 PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, GA. The Atlanta Athletic Club is hosting its fifth major* in club history. This week the Atlanta Athletic Club is stretched out to a lengthy 7,467 yards but is only playing a Par 70 making it the longest Par 70 course in major championship history.

Steve Stricker, Jerry Kelly, and Mark Wilson are in the Top-20 a quarter of the way through the 2011 PGA Championship on a day when only 22 of 156 golfers broke par. All the Cheeseheads in the field played so well on Thursday that Mark Wilson looks like the slacker Cheesehead golfer by only posting a 1-under par, 69 thanks to four birdies and three bogeys.

Jerry Kelly was fighting multiple injuries heading into the 2011 PGA Championship so he had low expectations when he teed it up on Thursday. Kelly surprised everyone taking not only the Cheesehead silver medal but the overall silver medal for the day posting a 5-under, 65 thanks to six birdies and one bogey. Kelly is one of the most animated golfers on the PGA Tour, if he stays near the lead come the weekend look for him to continue his Bill Murray antics to try and keep himself loose.

Speaking of the lead, last but certainly not least, Steve Stricker. Since there are 156 players competing in the 2011 PGA Championship, some players start their day on the 1st hole (playing the course sequentially 1 through 18) while other start their day on the 10th hole (playing the course 10 through 18 then 1 through 9).

Stricker started his day on the 10th hole and started off hot birding the first three holes (the 10th, 11th, and 12th holes at the Atlanta Athletic Club). Stricker continued his hot play on the ladder half of the back nine as well. Par is considered great on the closing four holes of the back nine but Stricker actually played that stretch 2-under par**. Thanks to carding four pars and five birdies on the back nine to start his day, Stricker was 5-under par through nine holes.

Stricker birdied two more holes on the front nine to get to 7-under through 17 holes. Stricker hit a great approach shot on his 18th hole of the day (actually the 9th hole at the Atlanta Athletic Club) to give himself a 10-foot birdie putt to post the first 62 in major championship history.

Unfortunately Stricker just missed the 10-foot birdie putt but made the par putt to post a 7-under par, 63. Stricker didn't realize at the time that he had a chance to post the lowest round in major championship history until he finished and his caddie Jimmy Johnson told him about his dalliance with the record books. Stricker's 63 was the 11th of its kind in PGA Championship history and the 25th in major championship history.

As I have said many times, Stricker might be the best putters on the PGA Tour. Stricker showed that on Thursday hitting a mere 24 putts on the day. Unfortunately if Stricker only hit 23 putts on Thursday he would hold the record for the lowest score ever posted in major championship history.

Stricker has been hot in 2011 so far winning the Memorial at Murfield Village and the John Deere Classic at the TPC Deere Run. The only hole in Stricker's impressive resume is that he is 0-for-52 in majors. Despite entering the record books today the American cougar of the PGA Tour has a long way to go to win his first major. Either way Stricker put himself in good position to shed the title of best current American golfer to never win a major. If I haven't already convinced you to pull for Stricker, check out his post round interview to get a small taste for why Stricker is my favorite golfer.

I hope you enjoyed the initial "Quick Thoughts" post. Look for the "Quick Thoughts" posts the night of Packer games and when important time sensitive Cheesehead sports things occur.

* = Previously hosted the 1976 U.S. Open won by Jerry Pate, the 1981 PGA Championship won by Larry Nelson, the 1990 U.S. Women’s Open won by Betsy King, and the 2001 PGA Championship won by David Toms.

** = Birdied the 15th hole, the longest par-3 on the course and birdied the 18th hole, a challenging finishing hole with water in play around the green.

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