SAPAKOFF COLUMN: How the ideal PGA Championship plays out at the Ocean Course
KIAWAH ISLAND — Could be worse.
Could be Ernesto.
Weather or not, this PGA Championship at the Ocean Course is destined for golf greatness. CBS time slots and Verne Lundquist beckon.
A gator roughly as large as the U.S. women's Olympic gymnastics team chases the threesome of Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els off the 17th green.
Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey — Bishopville native, South Carolina Gamecocks football fan, former Wild Dunes cart attendant — grabs the first-round lead. Thanks to his ability to adjust to rain, wind or shine.
“I've played this course three times in the last week, including Sunday with Darius (Rucker),” Gainey said Wednesday. “It played differently each time.”
Play is stopped by rain, started and stopped again.
The lime shrimp tacos available at The Fish Shack concession stand remain consistently yummy.
The gator is relocated to an Everglades suburb.
Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel arrives to begin filming a documentary.
Charles Barkley tells The Golf Channel that “The Dream Team” played better golf than “most of the guys in contention at Kiawah.”
John Daly goes for it on the 412-yard par 4 at No. 12 and makes a hole in one.
Caroline Wozniacki's private jet lands on the beach at noon, just in time for the tennis star to see beau Rory McIlroy tee off.
The day ends with a leaderboard full of odd names, which comes as no surprise to McIlroy.
“The technology lets maybe some of the lesser players catch up to the better players,” he said in explaining why there have been 16 different winners in the last 16 golf majors.
The PGA surprises fans with Louis Oosthuizen Bobblehead Day at the ol' Ocean Course.
Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson barely survived the cut but immediately start gobbling up ground.
“Sub-Gate” unfolds when a mysterious periscope appears offshore within a Hunter Mahan drive of the 15th hole.
Course strategy changes by the hour, baffling the best players. Most of them saw it coming.
“There's no doubt that length is going to be a factor on half a dozen of the holes out there, the par 5s especially,” Graeme McDowell said Wednesday.
And a few seconds later McDowell said, “I'm certainly not seeing length as a massive advantage this week.”
The day ends with a break in the weather and Rory in the lead.
The Coast Guard goes on alert.
A lot sunnier.
A little windier.
“If the wind really starts to blow, this is going to be a monster of a course,” Jose Maria Olazabal predicted Wednesday.
Former Clemson stars Kyle Stanley, Jonathan Byrd and Lucas Glover make a late surge.
Divers emerge from a yellow submarine and give out submarine sandwich coupons to beach-storming enthusiasts.
“Two Gloves” Gainey plays better than anyone outside of Bishopville expected.
CBS delivers all the signature scenic Ocean Course shots, prompting many mega-real estate transactions, one of the purposes of golf's fourth major.
Jim Furyk fights back.
Rory cannot hold off Tiger, Phil and Bubba. They take turns making bank shots off the breeze.
The wind dies down. The sun stays out, shining on the Wanamaker Trophy.
“Glory's Last Shot” ends with a four-star, three-hole playoff.
Tiger outlasts Bubba, Phil and Rory to win. He becomes the 17th different winner over 17 majors. His 15th major is a minor miracle.
After all, the official logo for the 2012 PGA isn't some surfer dude or fragile egret; it's a king-sized Kiawah Island oak tree.
Strong. Many branches. Enduring.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or on Twitter @sapakoff