Pinehurst Resort’s Kelly Mitchum is just days away from competing in his fourth PGA Championship, and first since 2006. Mitchum, as we chronicled here, finished tied for second in June’s PGA National Championship at Bayonet Black Horse in Seaside, Calif., punching his ticket to professional golf’s fourth and final major championship of the season.
And we’re going to take you with him.
Over the last few weeks, Mitchum has been readying himself for the treacherous Ocean Course at Kiawah, S.C. (The Ocean Course ranked 5th in Golf.com’s recent “Top 100 You Can Play” for 2012, two spots behind Pinehurst No. 2.) And now, beginning with Monday’s practice round, we will provide daily reports and updates of Mitchum’s progress on Pinehurst.com and here at the Pinehurst Resort Blog, getting comments from the highly regarded Pinehurst Golf Academy instructor following each day’s events.
Before he headed south on Sunday, we had a chance to catch up with Mitchum at the Golf Academy, and it’s no surprise what he’s been thinking about in those moments between giving lessons these last few days.
“I’ve had the Ocean Course on my mind about every day,” says Mitchum.
“And I know how it’s going to play — it’s going to play hard,” he adds. “It’s going to be a challenge. The golf course is very penalizing all the way around.”
Mitchum knows the Ocean Course well, and shot a 67 on it in a sectional championship. But that day the course played at 6,700 yards. PGA officials have said the course will likely play around its Ryder Cup length of 7,600 yards. He will tee off in the championship’s first tee time at 7:20 a.m. on Thursday with playing partners D.A. Points and Marcel Siem.
While completing in the PGA Championship isn’t unfamiliar to Mitchum — the 1993 North and South Amateur champion has played in several PGA Tour events over the years and played the PGA Championship in back-to-back years in 2005-06 — the task of competing on the major championship level is a daunting one. No club professional has made the top 30 since 1992 and four times in the last 15 years no club pros even made the cut.
Mitchum isn’t worried about any of that, however, and is eager to get to Kiawah. Just a few hours south, Mitchum will have plenty of support in his gallery, and his wife and two children will travel with him.
“It’s exciting to have another chance to play in a major championship,” Mitchum says. “I’m just ready to get to it.”