No matter what Briny Baird did in the third round of the 86th PGA Championship on Saturday, he was not going to make a telephone call to his father, former PGA pro Butch Baird, and go over his day at Whistling Straits.
Butch Baird, who won twice on the PGA Tour and taught his son the game, went through a messy divorce with Briny's mother, Jackie, in 1993, and ultimately remarried, moving from south Florida to Phoenix. The calls between father and alienated son began to be fewer and much farther in between.
At the 2003 Phoenix Open, Butch and his new wife showed up to watch his son play. When Briny spotted them in his gallery, he sent his caddie to ask them to go watch elsewhere. "I couldn't look down and see my golf ball, I was so upset," Baird said. They no longer speak at all.
Briny Baird, 32, talked about the split with his father, still a Champions Tour player, a few weeks ago with Sports Illustrated. Butch told the magazine: "I don't want to touch on that. It's something between us."
Briny Baird opened the PGA Championship with rounds of 67-69 and went into Saturday's third round only a shot off the lead. He got around Whistling Straits in 3-over 75 Saturday and is now seven shots off the lead.
Baird's bag also got a lot more notice than usual playing in the second-to-last group. He routinely displays the picture of a missing child from the area where the golf tournament is being played. "Hopefully, more people will see the bag and it will help find her," he said, adding it has nothing to do with his estranged relationship with his father.
The Hunt for Ryder Cup Points
Chris DiMarco made a nice move up the leader board with a third-round 71, possibly enhancing his chances of jumping into the top 10 and earning enough points to make it as an automatic selection for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
DiMarco started the week in 15th place, 42 points behind No. 10 Jay Haas on the points list. With double points available this week, an eighth-place finish would get the job done for DiMarco, assuming Haas doesn't make the top 10. Haas shot 71 -- 211 on Saturday and was tied at 11th. Steve Flesch, now in the No. 9 position, stayed in the points hunt with a 67 -- 212, as did No. 12 Stewart Cink, at 70 -- 213. No. 14 Scott Verplank had a dreadful day after a triple bogey at the 11th on his way to 77 -- 220. His best chance to make the team will be as a wild-card pick.
Sullivan Lasts the Weekend
Three club pros out of the 25 who started made the 36-hole cut, including Chip Sullivan of Troutville, Va., head pro at Ashley Plantation Country Club in Daleville, Va., about 10 miles north of Roanoke. Sullivan played briefly on the PGA Tour in 1997 and made 11 cuts before going back to the teaching pro life.
Sullivan, who was 1-under 143 to easily make the 36-hole 1-over cut, said he's been inspired this week by his sister, Kerry, who recently learned she had a serious liver disease and told him before he left, "I want you to make the weekend." Sullivan's wife, Kari, is also back home, expecting the couple's third child. On Saturday, Sullivan posted 73 -- 216.
Other club pros still in the field are Jeff Coston (79 -- 224) of Blaine, Wash., and Roy Biancalana (75 -- 220) of Huntley, Ill.
A Four-Stroke Mistake
Stuart Appleby was assessed a four-shot penalty on the 16th hole after hitting his tee shot into a bunker outside the ropes. Officials had determined before the start of play that every bunker on the property -- all 1,400 of them -- was considered a legitimate bunker, even if spectators walked through many of them, and players had to play them that way.
But Appleby removed some twigs and leaves in the bunker, a two-stroke penalty, and then grounded his club, another two-shot penalty. "I basically could have saved four strokes by reading a piece of paper in the locker room," said Appleby, who posted a 72 and was 1-under 215.