KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Webb Simpson was dead set against rangefinders at the PGA Championship, until he used them this week at the Ocean Course.
“We have seen how there’s a lot of situations where it it helps,” he said.
The PGA of America allowed the devices on Kiawah Island to maintain a steady pace of play. Players and their caddies are only to use rangefinders for distance, not for elevation changes or other features that such devices may have.
Simpson discovered their usefulness in Friday’s second round. He was in the right rough on No. 10, planning his approach. “It’s a funky angle to that back left pin and my rangefinder got about 6 yards different than what we had come with,” he said. Simpson made par.
Jordan Spieth has used his rangefinder, mostly when he’s off line and needs information not in available yardage books.
Spieth doesn’t think they helped pace of play. “We had a really hard golf course and 20 mile-an-hour winds with 156 players the last two days,” he said. “Doesn’t matter what you do, it’s going to be really slow, rangefinders or not.”
Simpson’s unsure if the PGA Tour might one day consent to full-on rangefinders during tournaments. All he knows, though, is his view changed as he used that view-finder.
“The more we did it each round, the more I like it,” he said.
WHAT’S THE SCORE?
It might seem like the era of pandemic-related restrictions at golf tournaments is over, with thousands of maskless fans following players around the Ocean Course.
But a few limitations remain, one of which has fans furiously refreshing the leaderboard on their phones. There are no standard bearers walking with groups to identify players and their scores.
With scoreboards not always visible, fans often have no idea where players stand in the tournament.
Eliminating standard bearers is part of an attempt by the PGA of America to limit contact between players and the general public. Players are also barred from signing autographs or posing for selfies with fans, and media interviews are being conducted in a single location, a tent with reporters spaced apart at individual microphones.
Gary Woodland shot an even-par 72 with plenty of ups and downs.
The 2019 U.S. Open champion had six birdies at the Ocean Course. He also had three double bogeys to offset those.
Woodland was tied for sixth at 2-under par.
WAR BY THE SHORE II?
Current Ryder Cup captains Steve Stricker of the United States and Padraig Harrington of Europe have their own competition going at the PGA Championship.
And it, too, is coming down the final day, much at the famed “War By The Shore” Ryder Cup matches did at the Ocean Course 30 years ago.
The team leaders for this year’s matches, set for September at Whistling Straits, are tied at 1 over through three rounds.
Stricker fired his best round of the week with a 2-under 70 on Saturday. Harrington, a three-time major champ who won this title in 2008, shot a 73.
The Ocean Course was built by architect Pete Dye for the 1991 Ryder Cup. It earned its nickname competition between the teams and the fervor of the fans.
The United States won that one when Europe’s Bernhard Langer missed a short putt on the 18th hole.