Buckle up, this could be another fun ride.
Buckle up, we’ve got Roller Coaster Rickie on the radar at the 100th PGA Championship which means the next three days could be wild.
Roller Coaster Rickie — the Cool Kid in the class — tossed his flat-billed Puma cap into the contention ring Thursday at birdie-friendly Bellerive.
Roller Coaster Rickie took everyone for a heckuva final ride at Firestone last week. How about 63 then 74? Then how about 65 then 73 on the last weekend at venerable Firestone?
How’s that for ups and downs?
Rickie says he took “some flak” for that. Rightfully so. Nothing smooth there — just ecstasy and agony.
So all Rickie did to open this century version of the PGA was go out and post five-under early. “You definitely have to take advantage when you have a Thursday morning tee time,” the Cool Kid declared after he was done. “I’m definitely happy about the start. Hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens.”
Rickie used the word “stress-free” which is typically something you don’t get when he’s Roller Coaster Rickie.
This looks like another chance for Rickie to snag the big one. Another chance to shed the label no one wants — best player without a major. He’s had eight top fives in majors.
“Last week was kinda up and down,” Fowler reminded.
Kinda up and down is like describing the Pope as kinda Catholic.
“I’m looking forward to putting together four good rounds,” Rickie added. And that would be great, shut down the roller coaster, keep it in the red, Rickie.
Poll the audience and you’d get a pretty strong show of hands from those who’d like to see the Cool Kid finally get his major.
Won’t be easy. Rickie pointed out a key strategy — keep it in the fairways.
Bellerive may have yielded what seemed like thousands of birdies on Thursday but it comes equipped with some I’ll Kick Your Ass Out Of Here rough. Hit it in the rough and you’ll definitely get your ass kicked at this one. Tiger Woods found that out early Thursday on his first two holes. Two trips to the rough resulted in a bogey, double-bogey start for Eldrick, who bravely fought his way back to even par and when he finished was thrilled to be within five of Rickie.
When Rickie finished, he was in a subdued mood. Rightfully so. He was thinking about his friend, Jarrod Lyle.
When Rickie got the news along with the rest of us, it changed the mood Thursday knowing that Aussie Jarrod had passed back home in Australia Wednesday night.
“I was scripted to wear blue,” Fowler pointed out. Puma does that with Rickie. The company picks his clothing lineup for the week. Rickie tossed the blue and found the closest thing to yellow he had. “I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago,” Rickie said as his tone turned somber. Rickie knew the impending outcome for Lyle. “I was focused on my shots when it was time out there today,” Fowler pointed out. “But in between, I thought about him, thought about his family. It can work as a benefit if you do it the right way. Jarrod wouldn’t want us out there feeling bad. He’d want us to play well and have fun. He’d tell us to go man-up.”
Rickie did a good job of that. He threw on the Jarrod Lyle Yellow, manned up, and threw a 65 at the field that kept him a shot from Gary Woodland, who finished with a 64 late in the day to take the first round lead.
But the Cool Kid is right there, right where he needs to be.
Rickie called Bellerive a “fairly simple and straight forward as a golf course.”
Simple enough. Stay out of that Get Your Ass Kicked rough, hit a lot of greens, make some putts.
And one last thing, Rickie.
Stay off the dad-gum Roller Coaster!