If the world's best player can't handle The Ocean Course in strong wind, imagine the problems for a club pro. Doug Wade found out firsthand Friday, shooting a 21-over 93 to finish a shot shy of the record high score at the PGA Championship.
The 33-year-old Wade shot an 11-over 83 in his first major championship round Thursday. Hopes of improving were blown away by gusty conditions, and he started six over on his first six holes in the second round.
"It just got worse from there," he said.
Wade, the club pro at Miami Valley Golf Club in Dayton, Ohio, dreamed of lasting the weekend on Kiawah Island. After making a par on the 13th, he decided to change his mindset and enjoy the walk. After all, not everyone gets to play in the PGA Championship.
"I just tried to relax and hit shots," he said. "And smile."
The PGA Championship is the major that celebrates the club pros like Wade. Defending PGA champion Keegan Bradley's father is PGA member and the top 20 finishers in the PGA Professional National Championship — Wade tied for 15th at the tournament two months ago — received spots in the season's final major.
Wade wanted to make a good impression. Instead, he let the big stage get to him.
"I've played in a lot of tournaments, but I was really nervous," said Wade, who had about 40 family and friends in the gallery.
Things went wrong from the start as Wade opened bogey, triple bogey. He eventually settled down, making a birdie and five pars on his last nine holes.
Wade thought sleep and a positive attitude might turn the tide in the second round. He didn't count on the wind, which bent flag sticks, snapped flags and blew in the face of competitors on Friday.
He finished with a 45 on the front nine, and his struggles continued on the back with consecutive triple bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes. That's when Wade wandered near record-setting territory and the record of 94, a distinction shared by Gary Campbell in 1977 and Tom Dolby in 2002.
Wade came to the par-4 18th needing bogey or better to avoid a 94 and managed to walk off with a 5 to finish at 32-over 176.
Asked the last time he carded an 8, he said, "Probably when I was 14. Seriously. I think it was before I was in high school."
Wade was paired with touring pros Jamie Donaldson (73) and Marcus Fraser (75).
"I just tried to stay out of their way," Wade said. "They were great about it."
The windy conditions were difficult for everyone, even top-ranked Luke Donald.
"It certainly didn't play anything like the practice days, so you really had to adapt," said Donald, who had rounds of 74-76.
Wade played golf at Ohio State and was an all-Big Ten Conference selection in 2002. He gave himself four years to make in pro golf, but couldn't advance past local tournaments and small tours.
He has worked as a club pro at the Bear's Club in Florida and at Heritage Golf Links in Atlanta, a course then owned by former NBA great Julius Erving.