0

Par problems
Scores high as Singh, Karlsson take PGA Championship lead

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - The PGA Championship looked a lot like the U.S. Open, with only six players able to break par Thursday among the early starters who got the best of the weather at Oakland Hills.

It sounded like a U.S. Open, too.

'A great test of golf and patience,' Jeev Milkha Singh said after a 2-under 68, joining Robert Karlsson of Sweden atop the leaderboard before afternoon thunderstorms delayed the first round for about 90 minutes.

It was easy to lose patience even after the round ended on a course that was punishing from the opening tee shot to the final putt. The rough is the thickest for a U.S. major this year, the Donald Ross greens at Oakland Hills are as frightening as Augusta National and the scoring chipped away at the PGA Championship's recent reputation as being the major to make birdies.

'The course is 7,500 yards long, the greens are firm and the pins are tucked away,' Lee Westwood said after finishing with six straight pars to salvage a 77. 'They are sucking the fun out of the major championships when you set it up like that.

'I sound as if I'm moaning - which I am - but it's a great shame,' he said. 'It's a fantastic golf course. They are great greens and they are playable. But there is no need to play it as it is.'

Such comments typically are reserved for a U.S. Open, and the similarities didn't stop there. The rough is so thick that players rarely reached the green after missing the fairway, and caution was required for every putt on greens that became so crispy in pleasant sunshine that tournament officials hosed down three of them throughout the day.

Even so, the best golf was rewarded.

Sergio Garcia struck the ball solid as ever, holed one long putt, limited his mistakes and joined a group at 69 that included Billy Mayfair, Ryder Cup hopeful Sean O'Hair and Ken Duke.

Phil Mickelson was in three bunkers before he reached his second green (No. 11), was 2 over for his round and somehow managed a 70. He made only eight pars, but among his five birdies was a 35-foot putt down the scary slope on the 16th, followed by a 4-iron that rolled within 18 inches for a birdie on the 238-yard 17th.

'I'm just happy to have shot even par today,' he said.

Anthony Kim overcame five bogeys with an eagle on the par-5 second hole that carried him to a 70, joining Mickelson, Rod Pampling and former U.S. Amateur champion Ryan Moore.

Karlsson, the only player to finish in the top 10 at all three majors this year, opened the fourth one with a shot that bounded off a cart path over the first green and led to double bogey. He answered with three straight birdies and reached 4 under for his round until missing the green for bogeys on 14 and 15 and settling for a 68.

How does someone start with a double bogey and not lose his cool, much less his mind?

'Try to remember that I actually can play golf, even though it didn't look like that on the first hole,' Karlsson said. 'My caddie said, 'Remember, we played with Tiger in the U.S. Open.' And I think he took 6 down the first hole pretty much every day. So you can shoot a good round from here as well.'

But such rounds were hard to find.

'It's a U.S. Open at the moment,' said Geoff Ogilvy, who won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in 2006 without breaking par in any round and failing to do that Thursday with a 73. 'This is one of the clubs that prides itself on how hard it is. I don't think anyone expected it to be easy. It wouldn't be a monster if it was.'