Mick­el­son, Els have ma­jor prob­lems at Quail Hol­low

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Art Span­der

CHAR­LOTTE, N.C. — What was sup­posed to be a cel­e­bra­tion in­stead be­came a dis­ap­point­ment.

Play­ing in their 100th ma­jor cham­pi­onship, Phil Mick­el­son and Ernie Els suf­fered through a mis­er­able first round of the 99th PGA Cham­pi­onship on Thurs­day at Quail Hol­low Club.

Mick­el­son had no birdies and eight bo­geys in his 79, the worst round of his 25 ap­pear­ances in the tour­na­ment. Els, 47, the same age as Mick­el­son, had one birdie but made three dou­ble bo­geys for an 80.

Tied for 131st, 12 shots be­hind co-lead­ers Thor­b­jorn Ole­sen and Kevin Kis­ner, Mick­el­son is in dan­ger of miss­ing the cut in the PGA for the first time since 1995.

Mick­el­son’s strug­gles come on a course he per­formed well at for years and con­sid­ers one of his fa­vorites on the PGA Tour. Quail Hol­low typ­i­cally hosts the Wells Fargo Cham­pi­onship.

He won the PGA Cham­pi­onship in 2006 and thus is guar­an­teed a re­turn next year. Els, who never fin­ished bet­ter than third, prob­a­bly is play­ing the tour­na­ment for a fi­nal time.

Co-leader Kis­ner no longer av­er­age

One of the last fin­ish­ers af­ter a tee­ing off at 1:55 p.m. lo­cal time, five groups from the end, Kis­ner birdied the last hole to tie Ole­sen for first af­ter many fans had left the course.

“I’ve just been play­ing a lot of av­er­age golf lately,” Kis­ner said. “I’m load­ing bet­ter now on the right side [af­ter work with John Tillery] and try­ing to elim­i­nate some of the push shots I hit.”

Kis­ner won the Dean & DeLuca In­vi­ta­tional, the former Colo­nial In­vi­ta­tional, in March.

“I think my rhyth­mic stroke works best on these greens,” Kis­ner said. “When they are rolling fast you have perfect speed.”

Kis­ner’s strat­egy was to iden­tify a few holes he thought he could birdie and just par the rest.

“I birdied them all to­day,” Kis­ner said. “Make a lot of pars, and get to a par five or one of those short par fours, I can do my wedge game and get it to 10 or 12 feet. That’s my plan. Other than that, I’m play­ing for par.”

No­table names

Bubba Wat­son bo­geyed six holes on the dif­fi­cult back nine — the last four are known as The Green Mile — and shot 77.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Jimmy Walker shot 81.

Dustin John­son, Jason Day and Jon Rahm were at 70, three back of the co-lead­ers. Joost Luiten of the Nether­lands had a hole in one on the 186-yard fourth, us­ing a six-iron to one-hop it for an ace. He still shot a 76.

Weather fore­cast

The fore­cast is for thun­der­storms Friday, Satur­day, Sun­day and even Mon­day. Of­fi­cials have dis­cussed ex­tend­ing the tour­na­ment if needed.

Stu­art Franklin Getty Images

A STRUG­GLING Phil Mick­el­son had eight bo­geys and no birdies in his round of 79 and his string of mak­ing the cut in the PGA ev­ery year since 1995 is in jeop­ardy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.