Access is everything. And fortunately, an opportunity to intern with a local television station this summer allowed me to have an all-access pass to this week’s PGA Championship in my hometown, Rochester, NY. Highlighting Friday's play was Jason Dufner who left a putt short on the 18th after shooting 63, tying the all time-major scoring record.
After a 10-year hiatus, the final major of the year returned to Oak Hill Country Club, site of this 95th PGA ChampionshipMemories of almost unknown champion Shaun Micheel hitting his approach on the 72nd hole in 2003 to just inches were replayed over and over again in the days leading up to the competition.
With play beginning on Thursday, those memories were not lost completely, but merely forgotten at the moment as roars of the sold out crowd could be heard from across the property following a rain delay that led to soft greens and many low scores.
The loudest roar followed what was most definitely the shot on Thursday from Martin Kaymer who hit an 8-iron from 150 yards on the par 5, 13th-hole that took one hop and rolled back into the cup. Kaymer’s eagle was even more impressive, considering the fact that the 13th had not surrendered one eagle throughout the championship in 2003 and none yet in 2013.
After opportunities to witness post round interviews with Tiger Woods, first round co-leader Jim Furyk, Paul Casey and Matt Kuchar, I moved over to the range and watched U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III and participant Keegan Bradley critique each practice swing with precision.
Following all my observations of these professionals performing and honing their craft, I truly believe one thing.
Playing golf at any level, from professional to collegiate to recreational, requires a focus and attention to detail unlike any other sport.
After shooting some video on the range of then co-leader Matt Kuchar, one of my colleagues said something to me that really stuck in my mind.
“You know what is incredible,” he said. “Every motion these guys make is planned, every single thing they do when they swing is coordinated.”
Golf is a game I view as similar to the game of life, where if you are not getting better, you are probably getting worse.
Watching major champions such as Justin Rose or Tiger Woods receive lessons on the practice range from swing coach Sean Foley was another moment that reminded me these pros are never satisfied and the level of precision that goes into each swinging motion is a result of endless hours of preparation.
Regardless, only one champion will be crowned come Sunday evening and with 35 players under par after round, it could almost be anyone in the deepest field in golf.