PGA Championship 2019: Danny Lee battles through equipment nightmare in second round

May 17, 2019
Danny Lee driver pga championship

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — After an opening-round six-under 64, Danny Lee was warming up on Friday morning at the PGA Championship when he noticed something amiss: there was a rattle in his driver.

The timing couldn’t have been worse, given Lee’s crack-of-dawn tee time. “Pretty brutal. 6:45, starting at No. 10, with a 20-minute drive to that tee…I just could not get up early enough,” Lee said with a grin after his round. “Maybe I should have opened up a tent right next to the putting green and started from there.”

Time was running short as Lee noticed the driver rattle. The good news was that he had a backup available — the bad news was he had no time to hit it. The driving range is a significant distance from the 10th tee, so Lee was left with just one option.

“We finished the warmup, then we put a replacement in, got in the shuttle and went to the 10th tee,” Lee’s caddie Jason Hamilton said afterwards.

That first tee shot actually went quite well. Lee hit one 306 down the fairway and made a two-putt par on one of Bethpage’s hardest holes. But then reality set in.

Lee missed his mark with driver on 11, 12 and 13 and was forced to lay up on all three, leading to two bogeys. On No. 15, he found the rough off the tee, hit his approach into a greenside bunker and made double. On 16, he missed left, left his approach in a tricky spot and made another double. Just like that, he’d missed five fairways in a row and gone from six under to even par — a Bethpage special.

But Lee was undeterred, and rallied as he made the turn. He birdied No. 1, and the difficult par-3 3rd, and found the fairway at No. 4, too, setting up birdie at the reachable par 5. Bogeys at 6 and 7 dampened his comeback, but Lee nearly holed out on the par-3 8th, setting up a final birdie.

“I mean, Bethpage kicked my ass on the front nine. But, yes, I think I did pretty well,” the good-natured Lee said afterwards. As for what he thought after going to six over for the day?

“Doesn’t look like I have a different option than — any other option than just suck it up and keep playing. And might as well get the best out of it. And I made quite a few birdies on the back nine.”

In the end, it was a four-over 74 for Lee. He lost 1.6 strokes to the field off the tee, hitting six of 14 fairways and just eight of 18 greens. As the second wave teed off, Lee was hanging steady in T6. He was headed to the range.

“I’m going to hit some balls and figure out my go-to shots out there with the driver, I think,” he said. “If I can hit a little bit more fairways, I think that’s going to be my key.”