Wind can cut both ways at Whistling Straits

Some holes play tougher, but Molder takes advantage of downwind stretch

August 14, 2010|By Chris Hine, Tribune reporter

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — The aesthetics of Whistling Straits — the 900-plus bunkers, the fescue grass — are reminiscent of a British Open course.

One missing ingredient Thursday — the wind — arrived Friday to give the course that extra links feel.

The wind howled and gusted and picked up in intensity later in the day, making some holes more difficult and some a little easier.

Bryce Molder, for instance, began the fifth hole of his second round at even par. For the next 10 holes, he said, he was hitting mostly downwind.

Starting with No. 5, he birdied five of his next six holes and finished his round at 5 under.

"There are a lot of holes with this particular wind where it's straight downwind," Molder said. "So you just feel like you get the ball airborne … and let the wind do the work."

For those holes that were into the wind, birdies were nearly impossible from the rough — and sometimes from the fairway.

"It was playing very tough out there," Adam Scott said. "If you missed the fairway, you didn't have much chance. Even if you're in the fairway, you have to hit hybrids or 3-woods into par-4s. And you're laying up on par-5s with a 3-wood."

Going fishing: Graeme McDowell said he is "spent," has "nothing left in the tank," is just "going through the motions." Any phrase that means emotionally drained, the U.S. Open champion probably used after he finished 36 holes at 3 over, leaving him in serious jeopardy of missing the cut.

"It's easy to say you're not enjoying yourself when you're not playing well, but I'm not enjoying myself from the first hole on Thursday," McDowell said. "It's pretty unusual."

To help rectify that, McDowell said he will take four weeks off and play sparingly before tuning up for the Ryder Cup. What will he do with his downtime?

"I'll do a little bit of fishing, have a few beers," he said. "Take four or five days in the Bahamas."

Noh kidding: Seung-Yul Noh, a 19-year-old pro from South Korea, is playing in his first PGA Championship — and playing quite well (5 under after two rounds). Noh is not a familiar face in the U.S. or back home.

"I don't play much on the PGA Tour, so that's why I'm not very famous back in Korea," Noh said through a translator. "But after this, maybe I'll be famous."

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