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Archive for Friday, August 18, 2006

Kane starts strong at PGA Championship

August 18, 2006

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— Sandy Kane wore black and white to the opening round of the 88th PGA Championship at Medinah Country Club, but she could have worn red to match her husband's score.

With 13 pars, three birdies and two bogeys, Jim Kane walked off the 18th green Thursday with a score of 1-under-par 71.

Of course, Mrs. Kane also could have gone with pink, to match her husband's face after giving away a stroke on the final green of the day.

But all in all, it was a stellar outing for Kane, playing in his first major since 1992, when he played in both the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship.

"It was great; I couldn't have dreamt it any better," said Kane, the former head pro at Eagle Bend Golf Course. "I had a little hiccup on No. 18 there. Other than that, I was really happy with myself."

Kane is tied with 20 other golfers at 1 under. In all, 40 of the 156 contestants broke par, with the co-leaders, Lucas Glover and Chris Riley, in the clubhouse at 6-under 66.

Kane's game plan of finding every fairway off the tee worked for the most part, as he hit all but four. But he also was dialed in with his approach shots, attacking the pins and leaving himself manageable putts.

"I was fortunate to play with an old friend, Tom Pernice, yesterday, and he really gave me some good tips about hitting out of the rough and hitting out of the bunkers, and it really helped," Kane said. "I think I got up and down out of every bunker today, so I was real excited about that."

Kane's caddy, best friend Mark Felder, was equally excited about Kane's performance. Felder believed that with a few more breaks, Kane could have gone 3- or 4-under Thursday.

"We missed a couple 10-foot birdie putts that just did everything but go in," Felder said. "He hit it good. We're pleased with 1 under, even though it could have been 3 or 4 under. There's three more days - don't want to burn out on the first round. You can't win it today, but you can sure go home today."

On the sidelines, Sandy Kane was anxious as she followed Kane's every move on the golf course from outside the ropes.

"My stomach is jumping around, I'm so nervous," Sandy Kane said. "On a 1 to 10 scale, I'm at 6-plus-plus-plus."

But Kane seemed cool and collected for the duration of his round. On the 244-yard, par-three 13th, Kane lost his drive to the right and found a deep bunker. But his sand shot was good enough to leave him with a short 4-foot putt to save par. And on the signature hole, No. 17, Kane hit his tee shot too good and flew the pin by 25 yards. Faced with a scary pitch toward water on a green that sloped away, Kane deftly left himself a 2-foot putt for another par.

"We did hit a lot of shots close," Felder said. "The thing with us is, we're not Tiger. We don't hit it as far as these huge guys do. We have 4-irons into greens all day long. We started calling (the 4-iron) the 'Medinah Club' because for us, it's hit a good drive, then a 4-iron into the green."

Kane agreed - the 'Medinah Club' was working Thursday. His best shot of the day, in his opinion, came with that 4-iron in his hands.

"The second shot I hit on No. 9, I hit a 4-iron to about 4 feet and made birdie," Kane said. "I had a good birdie on No. 1, but that shot I hit on 9 was really good."

Kane's group was the third group to tee off on No. 1 at 7:20 a.m., giving Sandy something of a sleepless night.

"I kept waking up to see what time it was," she said.

Today, Kane gets a reprieve with a later start at 12:25, but he'll also face hotter temperatures for the duration of his round. Still, Kane doesn't want to get ahead of himself. This was just day one.

"All the old cliches: each day as it comes, every shot as it comes, one shot at a time - all that stuff," Kane said. "I liked the golf course, I liked it when I saw it about a month ago. It suits my game. If I can keep it in the fairway, and if I can just make a couple putts, who knows what will happen?"

- Seth Jones is senior associate editor for Golf Course Management magazine in Lawrence.

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