PGA CHAMPIONSHIP / DAILY REPORT : Defending Champion Azinger Feels Good About Anger After Bad Round
In the months he was being treated for cancer and could not play golf, Paul Azinger often thought how he would play when he came back.
“I envisioned shooting a 64 and being in the headlines of every paper in the world,” Azinger said.
“I’m a firm believer that you can become what you see yourself becoming.”
After he shot a 75 Thursday in the first round of the PGA Championship, Azinger saw himself becoming angry, which was good, about shooting five over par, which was bad.
“I’m not here for a walk in the park,” Azinger said. “My expectations are such that I thought I could compete here. It’s good I’m aggravated.
“Nothing hurts, I’m ready, I expect to play better.”
Azinger’s round included seven bogeys, but also two birdies, both of them on the back nine, which he played at par.
This may be interpreted as a good sign, although not nearly as good as the news Azinger got when he was told he was cancer-free.
Azinger missed nine months after lymphoma was discovered in his shoulder. After chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, Azinger got to play golf again last week at the Buick Open, where he failed to make the cut.
He is the defending PGA champion, but a successful defense of his title isn’t the issue here, where making the cut would be a great achievement.
Azinger said his putting and iron play need work, but that’s probably normal after a nine-month layoff. But it’s just golf, not life or death, not anymore.
“I’m probably a more famous player than I ever would have been if I’d have won five majors, because of the cancer,” he said.
Jack Nicklaus, who shot a 79, had to par the last three holes to break 80.
It tied his worst round in 33 PGA Championships.
Nicklaus, 54, has won five PGA Championship titles, but has made only one cut in seven non-senior events this year, tying for 28th at the U.S. Open.
Here’s John Daly’s explanation about his comments that many players on the PGA Tour use drugs: “It’s just something that was taken out of content.”
There are 40 club pros in the 151-player field, a number that probably will be trimmed in the future to improve the quality of entries.
One of the club pros, George Bowman of Orchard Lake, Mich., had a tough day. His 87, the worst score of the day, included six consecutive 5s to start, only one of them par.