By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
Phil Mickelson wasn't all fun and
games on Thursday -- he got down to business, too.
MEDINAH, Ill. --
Webb Simpson did something different while practice putting on
Thursday at Medinah Country Club. He used a standard length shaft.
The U.S. Open champion did not pick this week to abandon his belly
putter -- he just uses the standard length shaft to get a feel for
his stroke. The belly putter is still in play for Simpson for the
Davis Love III is
seemingly everywhere, darting around Medinah in a red golf cart.
Meanwhile, assistant captain, Fred Couples, walked the rope line
and graciously handed out autographs for the gallery while
answering dozens of questions. U.S. players are making a concerted
effort to interact with the fans. Maybe they’re just being
polite, or maybe they’re just trying to build goodwill that
translates into momentum-building applause during competition.
Pace of play:
The PGA is giving players a very
generous 60 seconds to play each shot during Ryder Cup competition.
If a player takes longer than 60, he will be issued a warning. If
there is a second violation, a second warning is given. It is only
after two bad times that a player will have committed a time
violation resulting in loss of hole during foursome matches. They
are allotting 4:06 for singles play, 4:14 for foursomes and 5:07
for four-ball matches.
The entire golf course has been nicely
trimmed. The fairways are clipped tight and the rough is just about
nonexistent. Playing out of the rough will not pose a problem, but
you will see lots of balls running through the grass into the
trees. Recovery shots will still be needed this week. Tournament
officials will not comment on green speed, only saying, “they
are Ryder Cup speed,” with no further elaboration. The
putting surfaces are very firm and fast. I would guess Ryder Cup
speed translates to 13 to 14 on the stimpmeter.
There was nothing casual about Phil
Mickelson’s practice round with Keegan Bradley. The lefty
appeared to be nonchalant, chatting with fans as he left the green,
but once on the tee, Phil was all work. He and his caddie Jim
Mackay were serious about club selection and yardage. At one point
Mickelson said, “let’s get this dialed in now
Bones.” On the playful side, Mickelson entertained fans at
the 16th by hitting huge flop shots while Bradley would run and
catch them like an outfielder at Fenway Park.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
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