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.”
And Pinehurst.com and the Pinehurst Resort Blog will take you with him every step of the way.
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Diagnosed with dyslexia at 16, Illinois grad and 2-time Academic All-American puts together tidy 3-under 69
BY ALEX PODLOGAR
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Her playing partners Kyle Roig and Ayaka Nakayama were still seated at the scorer’s table, several minutes after they had finished the second round of the 110th North and South Women’s Amateur.
Not to be rushed, Nora Lucas took her time, carefully going over her scorecard with her caddie Jon Klein. They meticulously went over the numbers, then went over them again. And again.
“I’ve signed a ton of incorrect scorecards in my life,” Lucas said. “I’m not good with numbers.”
And she will tell you she’s not good with reading, either. Diagnosed as a dyslexic at 16, the graduate of the University of Illinois has struggled with the learning disability for as long as she can remember.
“It’s a pretty severe case of dyslexia, unfortunately,” she said, “but we all have our issues to deal with. Now the role I’m playing is to tell kids who are like me you can still be successful. You can still do well in school. It might take you a little bit longer, but you’re still just as smart as everyone else. It’s just a different way of learning.”
It’s a tough road, no doubt. But she’s making golf look easy.
A native of Glenview, Ill., and diehard Chicago Cubs fan, Lucas carded one of the best rounds of Amateur on Wednesday, finishing a bogey-free round of 3-under 69 to move to 4 under and the top of the leaderboard on the second day of stroke pay at Pinehurst No. 8.
And golf’s a welcome respite for Lucas, who will work as a researcher this year at the University of Chicago while she prepares for law school. A double major in History and English while at Illinois, the two-time Academic All-American has always found solace on the links, even at the difficult 6,546-yard Pinehurst No. 8.
“Golf is something that obviously doesn’t involve numbers or reading,” she says with a laugh. “I don’t have to read anything, screw up the words or something.”
A walk-on at Illinois before earning a scholarship as a sophomore, Lucas wasn’t heavily recruited coming out of high school and was never anywhere near the phenom first-round lead leader Jaye Marie Green is. But the perseverance from dealing with her learning disability had an added effect on her maturation as a golfer.
“I’d try so hard and still get B’s, and I thought that’s how it was for everybody,” Lucas said of high school. “But I think that taught me a lot, especially with golf. If you really work hard at something, even with a disability, you can still compete at the highest level no matter what’s going on.”
And now she’s competing with several of the best amateurs in the world. Everything was right in line on Wednesday as Lucas opened her round on the back nine and carded two birdies on 13 and 14 before a string of eight pars. She then birdied the par-3 5th hole – her 14th of the day – before closing with four more pars.
Some of those pars were hard to come by, but with a red-hot putter, Lucas managed to salvage a few strokes with par saves from 10 and 20 feet.