KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — With Phil Mickelson now a part-owner of his hometown San Diego Padres after the club’s recent sale to a group he joined, the possibility of having other golfers owning a professional sports team has been a lighthearted pretournament topic at the PGA Championship.
“Absolutely,” Tiger Woods said when asked if he’d be interested in owning one of his favorite teams. “I just need a lot more money. My teams are the Lakers, Dodgers, and the Raiders, so I’ve got to play really well.”
Keegan Bradley is a frequent practice-round partner with Mickelson, and as a diehard fan of Boston’s teams, he was quick to make a request.
“I told him to take it easy on my Red Sox, don’t take any of the players, he can stay over there on that West Coast,” Bradley said. “Padres are the next greatest baseball team to ever happen now . . . I think as an owner, you couldn’t ask for a more exciting guy to have in there. I know he’s very proud, he’s very excited.”
Has Bradley ever given any thought to purchasing a piece of the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, or Bruins?
“I mean, that would be a dream of mine,” Bradley said. “To own a piece of a Boston team would be about the coolest thing I could ever do in my life.”
When the first- and second-round pairings were released, some eyes were raised at the 1:40 p.m. Thursday group off the first tee, which includes Mickelson and Davis Love III. Padraig Harrington is the third member.
Mickelson hasn’t been a factor in more than two months — he tied for 65th at the US Open, missed the cut at the British Open, and tied for 43d last week at the Bridgestone Invitational — and has dropped to eighth in the Ryder Cup points list. The top eight after the PGA Championship automatically qualify for the team, so Mickelson’s inclusion on points is tenuous. Being paired with Love — the US captain — led some to speculate that it was an orchestrated move so Love could see what kind of form Mickelson has.
Not true, said Kerry Haigh, the managing director of championships for the PGA of America.
“We don’t take player requests for any pairings, no sir,” Haigh said. “We have a formula for the pairings, and all PGA champions play together. However they came out, that was how it came out.”
Love (1997), Mickelson (2005), and Harrington (2008) fit into the category of past tournament champion.
McIlroy a ‘B’ lister
Rory McIlroy’s second season on the PGA Tour — he was a member in 2010, gave up his membership last year, then rejoined — has been a mixed bag. When it comes to the World Golf Championships, McIlroy has been solid: He lost in the Match Play final to Hunter Mahan, was third at Doral, and tied for fifth last week at the Bridgestone Invitational. There’s also a win at the Honda Classic, a playoff loss to Rickie Fowler, and a brief stint as the world’s top-ranked player.
But in the season’s first three majors, McIlroy has been all but invisible. He went 77-76 on the weekend at the Masters and tied for 40th, missed the cut at the US Open, and tied for 60th at the British Open. He also missed cuts at the Players Championship and the Memorial.
“If I had to give my season a grade to this point, I’d probably give it a B,” McIlroy said. “There’s still a lot of golf left to play, but very happy with some of the golf I’ve played this year.”
McIlroy tied for third at the PGA in 2009 and 2010, then played through a wrist injury last year after hitting a tree root early in his first round.
“There were a few goals I set for myself at the start of the year, which I achieved. Getting to No. 1 in the world, playing well, winning a tournament early,” McIlroy said. “Then the second half of the season, it’s been a little bit more of a struggle.”
Dave Stockton, the 1991 Ryder Cup captain when the matches were held at the Ocean Course and a two-time winner of the PGA Championship (1970, 1976), was honored with the PGA’s Distinguished Service Award in a ceremony Wednesday night . . . Ben Crane withdrew on Wednesday with a back injury, and was replaced in the field by Chris Stroud, who will be making his first PGA Championship appearance.