- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2011

JOHNS CREEK, GA. (AP) - Paul Goydos was among the first to arrive Thursday morning at the PGA Championship, hopeful that his long day doesn’t end without him getting to play in the final major of the year.

Goydos has been the first alternate since the start of the week, and three days later, nothing has changed.

A two-time winner on the PGA Tour, who shot a 59 last year at the John Deere Classic, Goydos is fully aware that he could set a personal record for most time spent on a golf course without hitting a meaningful shot.

“You could say most of the shots I hit are not very meaningful, anyway,” he said.

Unlike the U.S. Open, Goydos at least was allowed to play practice rounds at Atlanta Athletic Club. At the U.S. Open, alternates only are allowed on the practice areas until they are in the field.

There’s also a difference for alternates compared with the PGA Tour.

“How’s this: I’ve got to stay on the tee,” Goydos said. “There’s like a blue line, and I’ve got to be inside the blue line, standing there like I’m a vulture. I told them they should give me a black hood and a scarlet letter. It’s an uncomfortable position that I earned.”

The PGA Championship has the strongest field in golf, so strong that even the alternates can win, as John Daly did in 1991 at Crooked Stick. Goydos said he was not bothered that 57-year-old Jerry Pate, playing in only his second major in the past 20 years, asked the PGA for a special invitation even though he knows he can’t contend.

Pate wanted this to be his farewell to major championship golf because he won his only major _ the U.S. Open in 1976 _ at Atlanta Athletic Club and he was born in Georgia.

“They have criteria for entry, and the criteria is the top 70 (in PGA Tour money the last year),” Goydos said. “I think I was 80, so we got five or six guys over the 70. That’s a bonus. So no, I don’t think he’s taking a spot. Arguably, you could say the way I’ve been playing, maybe I’d be taking up a spot. My record in the majors is nothing to write home about.

“For a player to complain, that’s petty at best.”

As Craig Stevens, a club pro from Dallas, hit the opening tee shot of the championship, Goydos was on his way down the steps toward the first and 10th tee boxes. He took a sports drink from the cooler, and settled in for a long day.