'If you miss your spots you get penalized severely'

Ernie ElsBy Ernie Els

All the early starters on Friday, which included me, would have been hoping to catch a good break with the weather and get Kiawah in fairly benign conditions just like it was the previous morning. Kiawah was obviously done with being nice, though. Now it was going to show its teeth!

It was certainly blowing pretty hard when Bubba, Webb Simpson and myself started our rounds from the 10th tee at 8.00am. And it didn’t really let up. This is a tough golf course on a calm day, but when the wind is gusting up to 30mph, man it is just brutal. I hit it nicely and did a lot of good things, but conditions being the way they were shots could easily slip through your fingers. I shot 75. I could have maybe saved a few shots here and there but, to be honest, that was a decent score on the day.

So, how tough was it? Well, the numbers speak volumes. Only one golfer broke 70 all day. That was Vijay Singh who shot 69. Trust me that was a seriously good round of golf out there. More than 40 players failed to break 80. The average score was 78, which I’m told is the highest in the history of the PGA Championship.

I said to my caddie Ricci Roberts at the start of the round that if the wind stays like this all day then a level par 36-hole aggregate might be a pretty good number going into the weekend. That prediction was pretty much on the money. At the halfway point level par is good enough to be on the fringes of the top-10. I’m on three over par. Obviously it is a little further back than I’d want to be, but I’m definitely not out of it. Golf is a crazy game sometimes and anything can happen.

We’re in for a very interesting weekend. Pete Dye courses always make you think. It’s never a case of just bombing it. Also, if you miss your spots you get penalized severely. That’s definitely a Pete Dye signature, perhaps more so than any other modern course designer. This is a fair test of golf, though, and the course is in perfect shape. If I continue to play well hopefully I can get myself into the mix again.