It's rare to have a player at a major championship bow out the morning of the first round, but the PGA Championship lost a man bright and early Thursday. Gary Woodland, maybe the longest hitter in the field, withdrew just before the start of the first round with neck issues.
The PGA made the announcement around 5:30 a.m. local time in Wisconsin, so it is likely that Woodland was trying to give it a go at the last minute but couldn't play through his injury. Less than a week ago, Woodland was on site at Whistling Straits playing a practice round with Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. He is a world class talent and a second-tier, up-and-coming American. He has relatively no history at the majors, however, something that is bound to change once he is healthy purely based on his length off the tee.
Carl Pettersson replaces Woodland as the first alternate and will tee off at 9:25 a.m. ET with Marc Warren and Francesco Molinari. The U.S. Open does not allow alternates to play practice rounds, and is strict about the rule -- an alternate was escorted off the course earlier this year. The PGA, however, does let alternates prep on the course just in case they get a late call. Pettersson played Whistling Straits on Wednesday and told Golf Channel's Steve Sands that the USGA rule forbidding it is the "dumbest in golf."
SB Nation video archives: Urban golfing with a U.S. Open champion (2012)