JOHNS CREEK, Ga.—The gallery following Tiger Woods had to hush on the 10th tee Thursday at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Scott Stallings stepped up and smoked a drive down the middle of the No. 1 fairway -- his first stroke ever in a major championship.
Stallings, who contended for the 2008 Chattanooga Classic title, has climbed the ranks of professional golf and is now a full-time member of the PGA Tour. Winning at the Greenbrier Classic two weeks ago secured that status.
"My whole life has changed in the last couple of weeks," said Stallings, who grew up in Oak Ridge and starred at Tennessee Tech. "I haven't had time to soak it all in."
Stallings shot a 3-over-par 73 in a round that included three birdies, two bogeys and two double-bogeys, including one on his final hole.
"I played a lot better than I scored," Stallings said. "I really played better than a 73. I hit a lot of good shots that ended up in bad places."
Stallings is around the expected cut line. A better score today would ensure that he plays on the weekend.
"I executed my game plan as well as possible," Stallings said. "I'll come back tomorrow with the same game plan and see how that plays out on the weekend."
Mizu (water) hazard
It's a good idea for patrons at the AAC to find as much water as possible. It's not the same for the players.
Japanese phenom Ryo Ishikawa hit into water six times during his round and carded a 15-over 85, which has him dead last in the field.
"Every time I made a mistake it got worse," Ishikawa said through translator Elaine Tobita.
Bubba Watson was 4 under par through his first six holes after starting on the back nine, but then he made five straight bogeys, added another on No. 6 and made a double-bogey on No. 8 to finish at 74, putting pressure on him to avoid the cut.
"I know I can do it," Watson said. "I'm going to take a lot from today. Things happen."
Sowards tops club pros
Bob Sowards shot a 1-under 69, which leads the 20 club professionals in the field. He's from New Albany Country Club in Ohio.
He made four bogeys and three birdies Thursday.
"My mindset switched his morning to just going out there and playing instead of trying to make good swings." said Sowards, who is playing in his fifth PGA Championship. "I haven't made the cut, and that's the goal."
Shaved too close
Small portions of the 14th and 17th greens were injured by a lawnmower Wednesday evening but repaired before golfers approached those holes Thursday.
"We felt like our hearts had been ripped out," AAC superintendent Ken Mangum said. "It's a little bit like cutting yourself with a razor on your wedding day."
The damaged area on both greens -- about three feet from an edge -- was played as ground under repair, which is rule 25-1 in the Rules of Golf. It entitled players free relief, including intervention on the line of putt.
"It wasn't a problem," Stallings said. "But there's no way they'd put any pins there."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...