Jul 29, 2016 | 08:51 am

The Difference is on the Greens

The greens at Baltusrol are a mix of poa annua and bent grasses, and while they may be smooth and beautiful in the morning, they become tricky over the course of the day. The difficult grass in that mix is poa annua, which grows at a different rate – much faster – than the bent grass. After a cut and roll in the morning leaves smooth greens for early groups, the poa begins to grow and create a bumpier playing surface in the afternoon.

The result yesterday was some of the best players in the world struggling with the flat stick. Rory McIlroy missed every putt outside of seven feet, Jason Day made two longer than six feet, and Jordan Spieth even addressed the greens in his post-round press conference. The winner this week won’t let the greens bother him. If the greens become too bumpy, you might also expect to see a winner from a western state, where bumpy poa annua greens are the norm (remember Tiger’s bumpy putt to get into the 2008 U.S. Open playoff at Torrey Pines?).

To watch live action from Baltusrol, have a look at this feed from the PGA Championship.

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Jul 28, 2016 | 06:11 am

PGA Championship: Things To Think About

The year’s final major begins today, and with it come a number of interesting stories. As you follow the action from Baltusrol, here’s what people will be talking about.

The Weather. In a word, yuck. Just like the rest of the country, the New York metropolitan area has been hot and sticky the last few days. Baltusrol is only 25 miles from midtown Manhattan, and the local forecast calls for heat (high 80s to low 90s) and humidity Thursday and Saturday, thunderstorms Friday and Sunday.

The Olympics. The teams for Rio have been set, and a number of notables—including Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer, Padraig Harrington, and all four players from the U.S. (Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar)—will be heading south soon after the PGA is over, and after a busy season that also included travel and tough conditions at Oakmont and Royal Troon. Furthermore, a number of PGA/Olympic players are committed to next week’s Travelers Invitational first, including defending champion Bubba Watson, Kuchar, Reed, and Harrington (and probably others, as well, who have yet to commit), meaning there may be some very tired globetrotters on the greens the next few weeks.

The Not-So-Big Three. Among the players we thought would have had a major by now this year are Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and Jason Day. This is their last chance in 2016.

The First-Timers. One reason the trio above hasn’t added a major this year are Danny Willett (Masters), Dustin Johnson (U.S. Open), and Stenson (Open Championship). Three majors, three first-time winners. Will another first-timer win at Baltusrol?

Is It Their Time? The best players yet to win a major in this week’s PGA field include Garcia, Fowler, Reed, Brandt Snedeker, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, and Lee Westwood.

More Fight In Phil? After his sensational week at Troon, can Mickelson find the magic again?

Continental Drift. Of the four majors, the PGA is the least welcoming to winners from across the Atlantic. Only six players from Europe and the UK have won the championship since it began in 1916 (Jim Barnes, in 1916 and ’19, and McIlroy ,in 2012 and ’14, won it twice each). Harrington’s victory in 2008 was the first European win since Tommy Armour in 1930. And there has been only one winner from Continental Europe, Germany’s Martin Kaymer in 2010.

Baltusrol’s Past Champions. Past winners of majors at Baltusrol include both heavyweights and lesser-knowns. Which category will add a name on Sunday?

1903 U.S. Open          Willie Anderson

1915 U.S. Open          Jerome Travers (amateur)

1936 U.S. Open         Tony Manero

1954 U.S. Open         Ed Furgol

1961 Women’s Open  Mickey Wright

1967 U.S. Open         Jack Nicklaus

1980 U.S. Open         Jack Nicklaus

1985 Women’s Open  Kathy Baker

1993 U.S. Open         Lee Janzen

2005 PGA                   Phil Mickelson

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Jul 27, 2016 | 08:30 am

Golf Bag Envy

After their duel in the dunes at Royal Troon, Callaway staffers Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson should get a lot of coverage this week on TNT and CBS. (Mickelson is also the "defending champ," having won the PGA the last time it was played at Baltusrol in 2005.) Be on the lookout for the very cool staff bag Callaway designed for the PGA that pays homage to the history of the club, which is hosting its 11th major championshp this week. The green and white stripes on the front and back panels and head covers pay tribute to the striped awning over the clubhouse terrace. The brown leather mimicks the color of the clubhouse, although the bag is slightly darker than the facade, which was built to resemble a British manor house. The wings on the bag reflect the course's logo that's comprised of a red golf ball with wings. Red Callaway logos and the "2016" between the wings match the color of the ball in the logo. The club is located in Springfield, N.J., which is stitched on the bottom of the bag. The final touch is the addition of "B.R." zipper pulls that are the initials for Baltus Roll, the namesake of the club who lived and farmed the land in the early 1800s before his murder. For more photos and video, click here. The best part is you can win one of the bags today and tomorrow by following Callaway on Twitter.

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Jul 26, 2016 | 08:42 am

View to a 62

With both Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson firing almost easy-looking 63s at Royal Troon two weeks ago, the golf world seems more overdue than ever for a record-setting 62 in a major championship, and there’s a very good chance it will happen this week. Why? Three reasons. 1) It’s the PGA Championship, where the course set up is traditionally the least severe of the four majors. Of the 29 times a 63 has been posted, 13 have occurred in the PGA compared to 10 in the British Open, 4 in the U.S. Open and 2 in the Masters. 2) The site is Baltusrol, a par-70 and the only major venue that has already yielded three 63s—two by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf in the 1980 U.S. Open and the other by Thomas Bjorn in the 2005 PGA. 3) The weather—with heavy rain yesterday and storms forecast for the weekend, there will be no fire in the greens, enabling the best players in the world to go on the attack. 

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