105th PGA Championship / Oak Hill Country Club - Thursday notes

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Round One - News of Note
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Rochester, NY. After a nearly two-hour delay because of frost, the 105th PGA Championship at storied Oak Hill CC commenced. The opening 18 holes were not completed before play was suspended because of darkness.

Eric Cole, playing in just his second major championship, stands at 5-under-par through 14 holes. The 34-year-old South African marked his ball on the 6th (he started play on the back nine) fairway and proceeded to score six birdies offset by a single bogey.

 Thursday afternoon wave notes

  • Club pro Michael Block shot 70 in today's round and currently finds himself among the top 20 on the leaderboard. Only one club pro over the last 10 PGA Championships found himself among the top 20 at the end of Round 1. Ryan Vermeer was T-17 after shooting an even par 70 in the first round at Bethpage Black in 2019. He made the cut and finished T-80.
  • Adam Scott is currently ranked 2nd in strokes gained off-the-tee and 5th in strokes gained approach-the-green.  The last time he finished a round among the top 5 in both categories was five years ago - in the second round of the 2018 Memorial Tournament.  He shot a six-under 66 in that round en route to finishing T-35.
  • Bryson DeChambeau will end up gaining around 7.6 strokes on the field today.  It will mark the third time in his majors career that he is at least seven strokes clear of the field average for a particular round.  He gained 7.63 strokes total in round 4 of the 2021 Open Championship at Royal St. George's GC;  he gained 7.58 strokes total in round 3 of the 2022 Open Championship at St. Andrews. His previous best such round at the PGA Championship was in round 4 in 2020 at TPC Harding Park. He shot 66, which was 6.17 strokes better than the field average in that round.

  • Eric Cole could end up being the outright leader at the end of the first round.  He would be just the sixth player to outright lead after 18 holes of his first PGA Championship, joining: Graeme Storm in 2007 at Southern Hills, finished the championship T-62,Sergio Garcia in 1999 at Medina CC, finished 2nd, Michael Bradley in 1995 at Riviera CC, finished T-54, Mark Hayes in 1975 at Firestone CC, finished T-22, Marty Fleckman in 1968 at Pecan Valley GC, finished T-4
  • Tony Finau shot 41-31 today.  He is just the third player in the last 30 years to shoot +6 or worse over his first 9 holes of a major championship and then -4 or better over his next 9 holes.  He joins: Ashley Hall (2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, +6, -5) and Kevin Sutherland (2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, +6, -5).
  • Dustin Johnson can find himself among the top 3 on the leaderboard by the conclusion of round 1 Friday morning.  It would be the 36th round after which he would rank among the top 3 in a major.  That is the most since his majors debut in 2008, ahead of Rory McIlroy (34) and Brooks Koepka (34).

  Thursday morning wave notes

  • Japan's Kazuki Higa, starting on the back nine today, birdied four of his first five holes this morning.   The last player who went four-under par over his first five holes of a PGA Championship was Japan's Kohki Idoki, 10 years ago here at Oak Hill Country Club.  The only difference is that Idoki started on the front nine in his opening round.
  • Scott Stallings began his day with an eagle two on the par-4 10th hole this morning.   It is the third time in the last four years that a player made an eagle on a par-4 on his first hole of a PGA Championship.  Club pro Jesse Mueller did that at Southern Hills last year, starting on hole #10.    Adam Hadwin did that on his first hole at TPC Harding in 2020 (hole #1).   Hadwin finished the championship T-58 while the club pro from Arizona did not make the cut.

In 2013 at Oak Hill CC, two players made an eagle on a par 4:  Stewart Cink, second round, hole 14; and Jason Dufner, second round, hole 2 (in route to shooting 63!).

  • Jon Rahm won the 2023 Masters despite making a double-bogey on his first hole of the tournament.   He had a more auspicious start to this championship, birdieing his first hole this morning (the par-4 10thhole).   The last defending Masters champion to start the PGA Championship with a par-breaker on his first hole of the week was Sergio Garcia in 2017 at Quail Hollow (the par-5 10th hole).  The last to do it on a par-4 was Bubba Watson, at Valhalla GC in 2014 (hole #1). The last time Rahm began a major championship with a birdie or better was at his 2021 U.S. Open victory at Torrey Pines, having started the first round on hole #10.
  • Defending champion Justin Thomas has yet to make a bogey through 12 holes today.  Over the last 30 years, only three defending champions had a longer streak to start their PGA Championship title defense:2019  Brooks Koepka at Bethpage Black,  no bogeys through first 27 holes, 2006  Phil Mickelson at Medina CC, no bogeys through first 13 holes,1996  Steve Elkington at Valhalla GC, no bogeys through first 13 holes. The most consecutive holes from the start of a major championship without a bogey for Justin Thomas is 16, at the 2022 Open Championship at St. Andrews.
  • Only one player representing New Zealand has ever led at the conclusion of any round of the PGA Championship.  Grant Waite was first place alone after 18 holes at the 2001 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.  He shot 64 and held a one-shot lead over 9 players, including eventual winner David Toms.  Waite ended up T-59 for the championship.

  • Two players from New Zealand have won major titles: Michael Campbell at the 2005 U.S. Open and Bob Charles at the 1963 Open Championship.
  • Scottie Scheffler has never had a bogey free round in major championship play. Today marks his 51stcareer major championship round. Scheffler has had eight bogey-free rounds on the PGA TOUR this season, tied for the second most behind only Brian Harman (9).  This includes Scheffler's bogey-free final round last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson Classic.
  • This is the 9thtime since the start of 2022 that Scottie Scheffler has shot 3-under or better in a major championship round.   That is the highest total over this time, ahead of Cameron Young (7), Jon Rahm (6), Rory McIlroy (6) and Will Zalatoris (6).
  • Scottie Scheffler has never led after the first round of a major championship.  In fact, he has only had the lead after 18 holes twice before in his PGA TOUR career: Bermuda Championship in November 2019  (finished T-3),Charles Schwab Challenge in May 2022 (lost in a playoff to Sam Burns)
  • The last time that the top player on the Official World Golf Ranking shot +6 or higher during a round at the PGA Championship was in 1987 at PGA National GC.  Then #1 Greg Norman shot rounds of 73-78-79-79 at the par-72 course.  The field played to a stroke average of 76.15 for the week that year, which is the highest ever at a PGA Championship.

  • Bryson DeChambeau is playing in his 26th major this week. Only once in his previous 25 did he rank among the top-10 on the leaderboard at the conclusion of the first round. He was tied for first after 18 holes at the 2019 Masters (finished T-29).  Entering this week, his average position after 18 holes of a major championship was 52nd.  When he won the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, he was T-14 after the first round.

***

Info compiled by Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.

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About M. James Ward

A GWAA and MGWA member, the 66-year-old from the USA has covered golf in all facets since 1980, notably the major championships and other high level events. He has played over 2,000 courses globally and has competed in USGA Championships.

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