PGA long-drive draws (mostly) rave reviews
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- With one notable exception, those who took part in the PGA Championship's revived long-drive contest Tuesday seemed to enjoy the experience.
Once an annual part of the pre-tournament festivities -- Jack Nicklaus notably still carries the money clip that was his prize for winning the 1963 competition -- the PGA of America brought it back this year at Valhalla Golf Club, with a notable difference.
Instead of everyone standing on the driving range and launching tee shots, the contest was held on Valhalla's 590-yard, par-4 10th hole. And players in the PGA Championship field didn't have to go out of their way to do it. They simply could take one chance when arriving at the 10th tee during their practice round.
"I thought it was a great addition," said Phil Mickelson, who was in a group with Keegan Bradley -- whose drive traveled 326. "We all thought it was great. And we had the feedback right there to let you know how far the drive was. I thought it was terrific. I hope they keep doing it."
Bubba Watson turned out to be the main party pooper.
The Masters champion and one of the game's longest hitters was not interested in the contest, even though he played a practice round Tuesday and just needed to hit a driver off the tee. Instead, he hit an iron.
"I want to practice the game of golf," Watson said. "I want to learn this golf course. I hadn't seen the 10th hole. I don't see that we should have a competition like that while we're playing a practice round and learning the golf course, trying to win a great championship.
"There's no reason to make something up in the middle of the practice round like that. That's just me. That's just what I think."
In Watson's defense, taking part was not mandatory, sort of like the Par 3 Contest on the Wednesday prior to the Masters.
But this seemed pretty easy. While Watson said he wanted to practice for the tournament, he put the driver away on the 10th -- even though that's the club he will be using there beginning Thursday.
"It will be driver every day," he said. "I was just trying to prove a point that nobody cared about."
Hours earlier, Adam Scott began his practice round at the 10th.
"I didn't really know about it, but it was my first hole of the day at 7 this morning, and wasn't really warmed up for it and surprised myself," Scott said. "I got one down the middle and probably got 30 yards of run on it.
"It was fun. It held up for a little while. I think it will probably be fun for everyone to kind of have something to cheer for on a day like today."