Originally created 08/18/00

PGA notebook: Langham off to solid start



LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Thomson native Franklin Langham got off to a solid start Thursday in the opening round of the 82nd PGA Championship.

Langham turned in an even-par 72, leaving him six strokes off the lead at Valhalla Golf Club. Consistency was the name of the day as the former University of Georgia star had 16 pars, one birdie and one bogey.

"I'm very satisfied," Langham said. "It was a good start."

He bogeyed the fifth hole after his drive rolled into a divot. Langham's lone birdie came on the ninth hole, where he hit his approach two feet from the hole. From there, he made all pars on the back nine.

"I hit the ball really well," said Langham, who is playing in his first major championship. "It could easily have been an under-par round."

Langham has quite a crowd with him. His wife, two sons, mother and father, and friends from the area are all in town.

JACK'S DAY:

Thursday was an emotional day for Jack Nicklaus.

Nicklaus' mother passed away Wednesday, and the Golden Bear honored her wishes that he not disrupt his playing schedule. Paired with Tiger Woods for the first time in competition, Nicklaus double bogeyed the first hole en route to a 5-over 77.

"I had no desire to be here, I promise you," Nicklaus said. "But I felt like that is what she would have wanted me to do. I think it was the right thing to do."

Nicklaus, who has said that this year will be the final time he plays all four majors in the same year, was coy about his plans for 2001.

"I have no plans for next year," Nicklaus said. When pressed about the Masters, a tournament he's won six times, Nicklaus quipped that "at least I made the cut (this year). If I go back and miss the cut, then I've got the Grand Slam of missing cuts."

Nicklaus, who missed the cuts at the U.S. Open and British Open this summer, said he would probably play a senior event in Hawaii next year.

Much of his attention was on Woods, who is tied for the lead.

"He's playing a game I'm not familiar with," said Nicklaus, giving his version of the famous Bobby Jones quote. "Of course, I'm playing a game I'm not familiar with."

"Quite an honor," Woods said of his pairing. "I know Jack's mind was elsewhere. He's a true gentleman to play with."

SINGH-ING THE BLUES:

Masters champ Vijay Singh struggled on the back nine and is in danger of missing the 36-hole cut.

Singh, who won the PGA Championship in 1998, grazed the cup on several putts in shooting a 5-over 77.

Paired with Woods and Nicklaus, Singh shot a respectable 1-over 37 on the front nine. But on the back, he finished with three straight bogeys for a 40.

ALTERNATE SUCCESS:

Edward Fryatt, who got in the PGA when Steve Elkington withdrew earlier this week, got off to a solid start with a 3-under 69.

Fryatt, who was born in England but grew up in Las Vegas, is torn about where to place his allegiance.

"I am in a difficult situation because my heart is definitely with England, even though I haven't been there much of my life," he said. "But my golf game is definitely American."

CAREER CHANGE?: Frenchman Jean Van de Velde, who lost the British Open a year ago with a final-hole collapse, shot a scrambling, 2-under 70.

But all Van de Velde could talk about later was his playing partner, club pro Mark Brown from Glen Cove, N.Y.

"Jean asked me how many tour events I played in and I said, `I'm a haberdasher; I sell clothes,"' said Brown, who carded a 1-under 71.

"What is he thinking about? I think he has got the talent to be here," Van de Velde said. "I think he should reconsider what he is going to do in his next 10 years. If I was him, I would."

CHIP SHOTS:

Dudley Hart withdrew after shooting 79 in the first round. He reported he had pain in his back that prevented him from continuing. ... In a battle of 2001 Ryder Cup captains, Curtis Strange got the best of his European counterpart, Sam Torrance. Strange shot 72 to Torrance's 82. ... Former British Open champ Tom Lehman had a nightmare finish, ending bogey, quadruple bogey, double bogey and bogey for a back-nine 45 and an 82. ... After his press conference Thursday, Nicklaus received awards from Jefferson County and the city of Louisville for his contributions to the area and the game. ... Former PGA champ John Daly shot a 2-over 74 in the opening round, giving him a chance at making his first cut at a major this year. Daly missed cuts at the Masters and British Open and withdrew from the U.S. Open.

Reach John Boyette at (706) 823-3337 or jboyette@augustachronicle.com