Welcome to “Seen & Heard at Southern Hills,” a daily compilation of insights and observations from our PGA Championship coverage team that is available exclusively to InsideGOLF members. Check this space daily — or your inbox, where we’ll also be sharing these dispatches to members in newsletter form — for inside scoops on the year’s second major championship.
What’s Southern Hills like? Nothing
By Dylan Dethier
One of the reasons that Southern Hills is standing out this week is because PGA Tour players seem genuinely in awe of how different it is. I had the good fortune to be standing next to ESPN broadcaster Scott Van Pelt on the 5th hole Wednesday and asked him if it reminded him of any other course he’d been to.
“It’s like Colonial but if that place could really breathe,” he said. Jordan Spieth said something similar in his press conference; I’m not sure whether or not that’s where SVP got his inspiration, but it seemed like a common theme: Colonial on steroids.
But it’s still not quite right. There’s nothing claustrophobic about Southern Hills except a couple of green-tee combos; it’s a big, wide-open ballpark where you can see from one hole to the next to the next. There are giant runoffs cascading off most greens. Bryson DeChambeau compared it to Winged Foot, but the grabby Bermuda grass wouldn’t be found anywhere in the Northeast.
Players face some of these types of challenges every week, but this week there seems to be more of them all at once. Accuracy off the tee. Distance control coming into the greens. Creativity with a wedge in your hand around those greens.
I asked Tiger Woods if he thought he’d played anything like it. “Never,” he said. Then he paused and referenced his former home course. “Maybe Isleworth, a little.”
As for the Colonial comparisons?
“I only played there once,” he said.
Tiger Woods’ one-day vacation
By Alan Bastable
Tiger Woods took a hard-earned break after the grind that was his 2022 Masters.
The respite lasted all of 24 hours. Maybe not even that long.
“Monday,” Woods said earlier this week from the PGA Championship. He was referring to the Monday immediately following the Masters and smiling as he said it. “That was it. Monday. It was not fun. It hurt. Ice baths, and just trying to get the swelling out of there.”
Now he’s back, at this week’s PGA Championship in Tulsa, Okla., to punish himself all over again. Woods will never tell you truly how much discomfort he’s in. Ask him if something hurts and he might confirm it, either with a terse response or a head nod. But you’ll never truly understand the depths of his pain. That’s not how he rolls.
At the Masters, Woods did allow this week, his pain intensified with each passing round. As did his fatigue.
“I didn’t have the endurance that I wanted,” he said. “I shouldn’t expect it because I didn’t earn it.”
LOL, he didn’t earn it?! Gosh, if you’ve listened to Woods chronicle his rehab since that horrifying February 2021 car crash, you’d swear all he’s done is earn it. But that’s Tiger: no player drives him or herself harder, physical challenges be damned.
There’s reason for hope, though. Woods is now having more good days than bad. He’s practicing more on his backyard spread. “A 20-minute segment here, a 20-minute segment there, another 20-minute segment later on in the evening,” he said.
And now: the dawn of yet another major start.
Can Woods contend? Of course. Can he … win?
Silly question. You know the answer.
Beside every great player there’s a…
By Zephyr Melton
A world-class player needs a world-class caddie, and world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler has just that in Ted Scott.
Ever since linking up with Scott last fall, Scheffler has been unstoppable — and it’s easy to see why. Scott, a veteran caddie who looped for Bubba Watson for 15 years, is meticulous as they come in his preparation. And that work pays off come winning time.
On Wednesday afternoon at Southern Hills, I spotted Scott on the 1st green, alone and armed only with three balls and his green-reading book. He spent 15 minutes on the green getting the reads from every conceivable angle, all in prep for the second major of the year.
This isn’t out of the ordinary for pro loopers, but Scott’s attention to detail was striking. He left no inch of the green unexamined — and he did it all in the blistering Oklahoma heat.
If Scheffler has another storybook week, some of his success will have to be credited to the man at his side.