In honor of Golf Tips Top 25 Instructor Rob Labritz’s sixth trip to the PGA Championship this week, I’m honored and proud to share my semi-regular blog with him during tournament week. The New Yorker, who’s the Director of Golf at Glenarbor Golf Club in Pound Ridge, is gearing up for a “home game” in front of family and friends just 45 minutes from where he lives and works. Every day he’s in mix he’ll provide a PGA Championship diary of his experience on and around Bethpage Black.
DAY THREE: WEDNESDAY
I’m really relaxed. My caddie just took off for the night. We got in 13 holes of practice and again, we had a great time. And it was an absolutely beautiful day.
I got some clubs dialed in — new ones I had fitted for this tournament. I skipped the final five holes — I really just wanted to play nine but got a few more in, then it was time to rest my legs, drink a bunch of water, and just be by myself.
The golf course is getting more firm, and the greens are firmer. I heard they put a two thousand pound cement roller on the greens, and were using helicopters to dry them off. I’m hitting longer irons onto greens where they used to stop, but now some of them are bouncing over. But then again, we won’t be playing as far back on every hole, as we have the past three days, basically with one foot in the rough behind the tee — so it will play a little bit shorter overall.
I’m teeing off at 6:45 a.m., so I’ve got my trainer coming at 4:45. We’ll do a half hour, just to get my body online, and I’ll be there by 5:45. I’ll hit some balls — I’m sure they’ll have the lights on for the driving range, then hit a few putts. Then I’ll get rippin’ — hit the tournament’s inaugural shot off the first tee.
That’s so nice. I can’t explain how nice it is to have that honor. People say, “Oh, no, 6:45,” but I don’t care. Getting to hit the opening tee ball off the first tee ball of the PGA Championship? How good is that?
I’ve never played with Beau Hossler or J.J. Spaun, but I’m looking forward to playing with both guys. I’ve heard they’re great gentlemen. I’ve followed them both a bit since they’ve been on Tour. Beau is a nice young player coming up, so I’ll look forward to playing with him. I don’t know too much about J.J.
What’s my strategy for round 1? Well, on that first hole I want to get a good tee ball in the fairway, which will leave me a short iron or wedge to the green. If I can get cruising over the first three holes, off to good start, I’ll be ready to take on the longer holes coming up, which
Is just about all of them. The toughest? Let’s see — 10, 11, 12, 13 — 14, 15, 16, 17 — tough is just all she is.
We will get a pin sheet in the morning and I plan to have a ton of fun, wherever the ball goes. Today I put myself in bad positions on purpose, dropping balls, just to see what it’s like to advance the ball. You’ve gotta get back on the fairway and leave yourself a wedge in.
I don’t want to be long on 4, long left on 8, or over the green on 11. You won’t hold the green coming back. On 15, it’s not a good idea being long, but it depends on where the pin is and how fast the green is. Hole 17, the par 3, is one of those holes where if the pin is right, you hit a little cut and it will filter down. If it’s left, you want to stay on that portion of the green.
I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could make the cut. I’m not a cocky club pro, I’m just comfortable here. And I have no target score for Thursday. Pressure is self-inflicted. You’re putting it on yourself. It doesn’t just appear out of thin air.
That said, I’ll take one under each day, even each day, or anything below those numbers each day!
I just want to thank all the media and fans for all the support. It’s just amazing to be in this position. I feel like I’ve already won. I can’t explain the feeling to just play in a major championship in your home state, so close to home. All the people rooting for you, even people I don’t know. I signed some guy’s leg today — “hey, man, sign my leg.” So I signed his leg!
It’s nice to be exposed to this for a week.
Look for my caddie in his NYPD hat. That’s us.