PGA Championship

Friday Notebook from PGA of America Pool Reporter Jeff Babineau

May 17, 2024


Jeff Babineau


Chip off the old block

Min Woo Lee of Australia needed to make something special happen on Friday after opening the 106th PGA Championship with a round of 1-over 72. His iron play wasn’t sharp, so he needed to find a different way to score. Lee made six birdies in a second-round 66 – holing out three times from off the green.

Starting his round off No. 10, he holed a chip at 12, holed a really difficult pitch from 35 yards from the hill next to 16 green, and then added another chip-in at the 213-yard 3rd (his 12th hole), where he missed yet another green. Lee considers his short game to be a strength, and says he might chip in once during a 72-hole event. Three times in a day? Even he found it odd.

“They weren't easy ones,” Lee said. “Sixteen was pretty special. It was in deep rough, into the grain, and I was just trying to get it on the green close, and it ended up going in. It was just one of those days where it kind of went my way.

“Yeah, they just dropped.”

Lee, 25, was one shot from matching his low round at a major, having shot 65 in the second round of last summer’s U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club. This is his third PGA Championship, and the second time he made it to the weekend, having tied for 18th at Oak Hill a year ago.

“I think my iron play needs to be a bit better” Lee said, looking forward to the weekend. “Again, the chip-ins were great. Iron play wasn't that good. Made up for it with the chipping. Just got to lock in with the irons a bit more.”

Shattuck has weekend plans in Kentucky

Braden Shattuck, one of 21 PGA of America Golf Professionals on the Corebridge Financial Team competing at Valhalla this week, had two holes to play on Friday, and figured he needed to birdie one of them, if not both, to get into the weekend.

He produced one of the most clutch putts of his life at the par-3 8th hole (his 17th of the round), when he stood over a 35-footer and promptly holed it for a birdie-2, his fifth birdie of the day. On his 36th hole, he recovered from a poor drive into a bunker the best he could, hit his second into a greenside bunker, and faced a 4-footer for par. Again, he buried it, finishing off a round of 1-under 70 to get to the clubhouse at 1-under 141.

“The cup looked like the size a thimble on that last 4-footer,” Shattuck said, smiling, “but thankfully, it found its way to the middle.”

Shattuck, 29, played in last year’s PGA Championship at Oak Hill in New York after capturing the PGA Professional Championship in New Mexico in 2023. He failed to make the cut in New York (79-73), and wanted a better result in his second appearance.

One focus of his: He worked on hitting his driver straighter after Oak Hill, a stern test. Friday was his payoff.

“I always have nerves coming down when things get important and shots mean a lot, and the stakes are higher,” Shattuck said. “I’ve had enough success when that happens to be able to lean on those experiences.

“When you’re nervous, you’re shaking, your heart is beating fast ... you learn to get over it, and you can still succeed.”

Shattuck was involved in a bad car accident in 2019 that herniated two disks in his back, and he was unable to swing a golf club for two years. Once healthy, instead of heading back to chasing the mini-tours once more, he got his A-14 PGA designation and took a job as Director of Instruction at Rolling Green Golf Club, near Philadelphia.

Friday, it was refreshing to hit the big shots, and make the big putts, when he needed to most.

“It feels great,” he said. “That’s why we play the game. We want to be in position to make cuts and win tournaments, so it’s great to be tested, and to pass the test. Oftentimes in golf, there are more failures than successes.

“Every once in a while, when you do pass a test ... you know, I’m not Scottie Scheffler or Rory McIlroy – so for me, making the cut is a big deal. It felt great to do it.”

Ace for Sweden’s Soderberg

Sweden's Sebastian Soderberg made an ace at the 173-yard 8th hole, the first hole-in-one at a PGA Championship at Valhalla since the property’s very first one, in 1996. (There were three recorded that year, but none on the 8th.)

Soderberg, competing in his second career major (he played in the 2022 U.S. Open), shot 4-under 67 to go along with his opening-round 71, and will play on the weekend. He used 8-iron to make his ace.

“The hole-in-one was quite helpful to get the momentum going,” said Soderberg, 33, who played his college golf at Coastal Carolina.

“I was debating the club a little but eventually committed and hit a full draw, hit it perfect. It pitched about a foot right of it (the hole) and jumped in. I blacked out for a second, probably. I haven’t made too many.”

He is the second Swedish player to make an ace in a PGA Championship, joining Freddie Jacobson. Jacobson made his ace in the final round of the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.