PGA Championship

Tuesday Notebook from PGA of America Pool Reporter Jeff Babineau

May 14, 2024


Jeff Babineau

Sorry, son, gotta go to work

It already has been a busy year for Scottie Scheffler, so having a little downtime at home in Dallas last week provided a nice break. Heading back out on a flight Monday morning was harder than usual, as he had to tell his newborn son, Bennett, born last week, that Dad had to report to work in Louisville.

“I miss him like crazy ... I was like, I don’t want to leave you right now, but I need to,” Scheffler said on Tuesday. “I’m called to do my job to the best of my ability, and I felt like showing up on Wednesday night wouldn’t really be doing myself a service this week when it comes to playing and competing in the tournament.

“So I had to show up, especially with the weather forecast, showing up, being prepared and ready to play and being back home as quick as I can.”

Scheffler’s caddie, Ted Scott, has a daughter graduating from high school on Saturday. Scheffler said the team’s motto is “family first,” so Scott will caddie Thursday and Friday and fly home for the graduation, then be back on Scheffler’s bag for the final round. A longtime friend will caddie for Scheffler on Saturday in Scott’s absence.

Scheffler was a runner-up at Oak Hill to Brooks Koepka last year in the PGA Championship, and already has three finishes of T-8 or better in his four PGA Championship starts. He has won four of his last five starts on the PGA Tour, the exception being a second-place finish in Houston.

Woods: ‘I can still hit shots’

It’s been nearly a quarter of a century since Tiger Woods, then 24, arrived to Valhalla chasing history. The year was 2000, and Woods was coming off one-sided romps at the U.S. Open – winning by 15 shots at Pebble Beach – and Open Championship (winning by eight at St. Andrews). His next target: winning a third consecutive major, something not done since Ben Hogan in 1953.

Woods would win the PGA Championship that week, but it hardly was a one-sided affair. Bob May stayed right with him, and through 72 holes, neither player could shake the other, tying at 18-under 270. Off they went to a three-hole aggregate playoff – a first for the PGA Championship – and there, Woods edged out May for the title. It was memorable.

“With leading a championship and both of us playing as well as we did with all of that pressure and we kept feeding off of one another,” Woods said on Tuesday. “He would make a putt, I would make a putt, I would make a putt, he would make a putt ... It was a fun back nine.”

Woods said Tuesday that May was “totally shocked” to learn the two players were headed to a three-hole playoff, as it was news to him the PGA Championship’s playoff format had changed. After each player carded 5-under 31 over the final nine of regulation, the hot play continued.

Said Woods, “Again, we never really missed shots on that back nine, and then in the three-hole playoff. For us to shoot those low of scores, it was special.”

Woods has won three PGA Championships – adding titles in 2006-07 – but doesn’t quite know what to expect this week. He came in early for a couple of practice rounds to chart the greens and get early preparation in to help him get some rest this week.

Max Homa played two rounds alongside Woods at the Masters in April and said he was a few putts away from being a much bigger factor. He hit the ball just fine, and it wouldn’t surprise Homa to see Woods, 48, put it all together and win again.

“I can still hit shots,” Woods said. “It's getting around is more of the difficulty that I face day-to-day and the recovery of pushing myself either in practice or in competition days. You saw it at Augusta. I was there after two days and didn't do very well on the weekend.”

Woods shot 82-77 at Augusta on the weekend to finish 60th. This week, he drew an early/late tee time for the first two rounds, which could help him. Thursday he tees off alongside Adam Scott and Keegan Bradley off the 10th tee at 8:04 a.m.

It's a Block Party

The Corebridge Financial Team expanded from 20 to 21 players this week at Valhalla to make room for California Head Golf Professional Michael Block, who tied for 15th at Oak Hill last year. It was the best showing by a PGA of America Golf Professional at the PGA Championship since Tommy Aycock tied for 11th at Tanglewood Golf Course in North Carolina in 1974.

Block, 47, is back for another go at Valhalla this week, playing in his sixth PGA Championship. Valhalla is where he played in his very first PGA Championship a decade ago, missing the cut. A year ago, his showing at Oak Hill – where on Sunday he played with Rory McIlroy and even made an ace on the 15th hole – was something he is reminded of daily.

“Yeah, that was a magical carpet ride for sure,” Block said. “I literally felt like that the entire week, to tell you the truth. It was just almost kind of a blur, surreal moment, exactly what you sitting at home would think it's like. It's to a T just like that.

“It's like if somebody walked up to your house and they –obviously those people winning 10 million dollars when someone walks up to their house and knocks and the door and they open it. That's exactly how it felt for me, minus the 10 million dollars, but just the whole, what just happened right now?”

His clutch showing at Oak Hill would change life for Block in many ways. Block now has to shut the door to his office at Arroyo Trabuco in Southern California, as too many people were stopping in wanting to meet and talk with him.

So there have been some sacrifices, sure, but he nonetheless has enjoyed the ride.

“I wouldn't trade any part of it for the world,” Block said. “I've loved every moment of it. The people I've met, the places I've been able to go, the tournaments I've been able to play in. Hopefully it inspires a lot more people to do the same.”

Block is in the opening group off No. 1 on Thursday, teeing off at 7:15 a.m. alongside European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald and Shaun Micheel, the 2003 PGA Champion. Tom Wargo was the last PGA of America Golf Professional to make the cut in back-to-back years (1992-93) at the PGA Championship.