At least one golfer had fans rooting for him in the PGA Championship, and his rounds didn’t even count.
Tom Smith, the general manager at Harding Park, had the honor of playing as the marker in the tournament, the extra player who balances the odd-numbered field so that one of the competitors wouldn’t have to play on his own.
Smith played with Mackenzie Hughes on Saturday and Sung Kang on Sunday, and wound up getting a stirring ovation from fellow club employees.
After the cut Friday, Smith had another marker in mind, but learned the on-site COVID-19 testing was finished. Therefore, no one else could come into the bubble. Smith essentially had to step in.
“It was a very long night for me,” he said of the anticipation Friday. “I've been in operations mode for the championship, and my team put my clubs together, got my bag ready, got the caddie ready. My good friend, Joe, caddied for me. And we tried to sleep; didn't sleep well, get up and chase it in the morning, so what a day.”
Smith, who said he hadn’t touched a golf club in weeks because he was preparing the course for the tournament, estimated he shot in the mid-70s.
“I did have to pick up a few times today just in the interest of pace,” he said. “[Kang] was hopeful to catch a flight, which he did make, so we were knowledgeable about our pace. We played in 2 hours and 54 minutes, so we were definitely moving out there today.”
As for that rooting section ...
“Probably the most memorable thing for me was the crowd. We were walking down 18 and my whole staff came out of the clubhouse, along with the PGA staff here on-site, and they cheered so loud, people were looking,” Smith said. “[Hughes] turned to me and he said, `'You've got the largest crowd at the PGA Championship yelling in your corner.’ That was very, very special.”
Phil the airwaves
“There’s three things I do well: play golf and talk golf,” Mickelson said when introduced, leaving unspoken the implied sexual innuendo. Faldo fell for it, pointing out he only listed two things. Mickelson sat silent with an impish grin.
“I think that for somebody like myself that's never done [booth commentary], having a guy like Jim Nantz kind of set things up and kind of stage what to talk about made it easy, because it's not like I prepared for anything,” Mickelson said Sunday.
“And then obviously to have a wonderful target like Nick, that made it nice, too.”
South Korea’s Byeong Hun An had a hole-in-one on the 189-yard 11th hole, using a 6 iron. It was the 43rd hole-in-one in the PGA Championship since 1970.