SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) - The PGA Championship staged the Long Drive Competition for the second straight year and got vastly different results.
Bubba Watson didn’t finish last this time because he didn’t hit an iron off the tee in protest. Louis Oosthuizen didn’t win like he did a year ago because he forgot to play.
Watson caused a stink at Valhalla when the PGA revived a contest that was originated in 1952. One of golf’s longest hitters didn’t want to take part and made his point by choosing to hit iron off the tee. On Tuesday, Watson pulled driver and hit it long … and left.
It found a bunker, and only drives in the fairway count.
“I tied a bunch of people that missed the fairway,” Watson said. “At least last year I hit the fairway.”
As for Oosthuizen?
He played the back nine on Tuesday. The Long Drive was on No. 2.
“I forgot about it up until yesterday after I had already done nine holes,” Oosthuizen said. “So my nine holes were the opposite. So I didn’t even hit that shot this year. Struggling last week with the driver, I think I probably would have just missed the fairway.”
The winner was Anirban Lahiri with a tee shot of 327 yards. He beat club pro Matt Dobyns (323 yards), while J.B. Holmes was third at 315 yards.
Lahiri won two long drive competitions twice in India, with one tee shot going 365 yards on a hole that was dry and firm.
“I entered this contest last year and I didn’t hit the fairway, just like a lot of my friends today,” Lahiri said. “It helps to be able to drive it right-to-left. I hit a good one and got a good bounce. Now that I have a money clip, it’s going to be on me all week.”
The top three won a money clip inspired by the one Jack Nicklaus won in 1963 when he was the Long Drive winner.
BUGS!: Tiger Woods added a new word to his repertoire on Tuesday - mosquitoes.
Walking toward the fairway on the ninth hole, each step through the grass caused insects to scatter, and with a morning sun, they seemed to be everywhere during the practice round Tuesday.
Asked how the course looked, Woods said it was soft from rain and then said, “Obviously, there’s a lot of mosquitoes out there.”
He mentioned it again when asked about the passion of Wisconsin fans.
“They’re definitely into it. This is a pretty sports-mad state,” Woods said. “We’ve seen people show up very early times, because I kind of like to play early. On top of that, I’ve never seen mosquitoes like this. I live in Florida and we go out in the evenings and you may get beaten, but here you get eaten alive. And the everywhere you walk … we’re walking down the fairways, it’s not so bad. The galleries are kicking up the long stuff where all the mosquitoes are. They’re tough.
“You guys are pretty hearty up here, which is good.”
HEAVY DUTY: Davis Love III won the PGA Championship in 1997 at Winged Foot. The hard part might have been when it was over.
He still needed plenty of strength to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy.
“Surprisingly heavy,” Love said. “I think the replica we had was maybe 90 percent and it’s still really heavy. It’s one of those you have to think about it when you pick it up and hold it up and kiss it. It’s very large.”
Tiger Woods can attest, having won it four times.
“It’s pretty heavy, especially when you’re tired,” Woods said. “And from playing some of the tournaments, I was pretty dehydrated - Valhalla and Tulsa. But I’ve never seen anybody have to do what Jack (Nicklaus) did, I think at Firestone. He had to hold it on both sides with a towel. I think they put it away and don’t leave it in the sun all day. Obviously, that helps.”
OVERLOOKED BUBBA: The 18th hole at Whistling Straits is famous for Dustin Johnson grounding his club in a bunker that cost him a spot in the playoff.
It also holds a bad memory for Bubba Watson.
He was in a playoff with Martin Kaymer and came to the 18th hole - the last of a three-hole playoff - tied. Watson hit his second shot into the water and that was that. He made double bogey and was runner-up.
“I walked out of the fairway to get out of Martin’s way and asked the cameraman, ‘Where did the ball go?’ I thought at worst it was just short of the green in the bunker, and I could chip it up and hopefully make par,” Watson recalled. “I didn’t know it was in the water. That was 25 yards short, 30 yards short. There’s no way. And I heard the moans and I was like, ‘How can it be in the water?’ I thought I hit a decent shot.”
DIVOTS: Whistling Straits hosted its first PGA Championship just 11 years ago, and it’s already one PGA away from tying the record. Southern Hills has held the PGA Championship four times starting in 1970. The last one was in 2007 at Southern Hills. … Davis Love III is playing the PGA Championship for the 29th time, the most of anyone in the field. … Is a playoff in the cards in Wisconsin? The previous two PGAs at Whistling Straits went to a playoff. And there already have been 17 playoffs on the PGA Tour this year. One more ties the record set four years ago.
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