PGA Championship round one: You don't have to be mad, but it helps
I wonder if Graeme Storm was whistling ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the Midday Sun’ as he set off on his, uh, storming round yesterday (Sorry but everyone else has been at the Storm puns (’Storm steals PGA thunder’ etc) I don’t see why I shouldn’t). You had to be a bit loopy to set off in the midday sun Thursday as temperatures hit the ton.
I tell you who wasn’t mad though: the lucky punters who put more than £500 on Storm’s head at odds of 1,000. There’s huge excitement on the forum at the quoted stat that six of the last seven first round leaders at Southern Hills, I assume in majors, have gone on to win. I wouldn’t trust that too much, certainly not in this case. I’m sure the wise among those backers will have laid back by now to lock in at least a small profit at 34.
Not that Storm has no form. He won the French Open a little over a month ago and has a couple of other victories to his name from way back when. But his record since France has been murky.
But then he is not an isolated case. None of the first 10 names on the leaderboard opened at less than 120 on the exchange and five of them were more than 500-1! Southern Hills is proving quite a leveller.
One thing it hasn’t managed to level is the mountainous contours of crowd-favourite John Daly, adding to the general mayhem by thrashing out a round of 67 with a driver and gay abandon. Of course everyone is now waiting with bated breath for the customary spectacular implosion, that’s if his wife doesn’t scratch his eyes out first.
It’s certainly too soon to get excited about Open Champion Padraig Harrington leading the charge of golf’s higher beings. And it’s absolutely too soon to write off Tiger Woods. But he really does need to give his putter a stiff talking to. He was very unlucky with some putts, but even I could have got that birdie putt on the 11th closer to the hole.
It all started so well too. How many punters were rubbing their hands with glee and mouthing ‘I told you so’ as he shot to three under and his price fell to 2.5? In the end he gave it all back, and then some to hand the advantage to the naysayers.
To add to the woes of Tiger backers, he joins the mad bunch Friday with an early afternoon start. He might have complained about the swirling winds Thursday morning, but the afternoon shift played more than a stroke more difficult on average (74.9 to 73.7).
Tiger had better have all his wits about him, or I’ll be both an Englishman and a mad dog.
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