On a beautiful, but hot day at the 94th PGA Championship, the early tee times were blessed with absolutely pristine conditions. The temperature and humidity were both high, but the wind wasn’t. The result, was Carl Pettersson shot a 6 under par 66, and has the first round lead on this very tough layout at The Kiawah Golf Resort on Kiawah Island South Carolina. Pettersson, a 34 year old from Gottenburg Sweden, played his college golf at North Carolina State.
The wind picked up in the afternoon to put some teeth into an already hard golf course, a fact that is reflected in the afternoon scores. Also taking advantage of the morning conditions on this beautiful Pete Dye course, were Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy. Don’t look now, but John Daly is also on the leaderboard at -4, some 21 years removed from his PGA Championship win at Crooked Stick in 1991. Tiger shot a 3 under 69, and Rory came in at 5 under 67, tied with Gary Woodling.
Last weeks winner and defending PGA Champion, Keegan Bradley shot a 4 under 68.
When I first tuned in the television coverage at 1PM on TNT, there was a buzz about Joost Luiten. Yeah, I was wondering who he was myself. Joost Luiten, who was one of the players to begin Thursday’s round on the 10th, was at 8 under par, and the buzz was, could we see the first 62 in the PGA’s history? After making three birdies and an eagle at the 16th hole, and making three more birdies on the front nine, bogeyed the four finishing holes to finish with a 4 under 68.
Joost Luiten(pronounced yost louton), is a 26 year old golfer from Bleiswijk Netherlands, who is currently playing on the European Tour, and the Asian Tour which is sanctioned by the European Tour. He has one win on the Asian Tour at The Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia. His only Major Championship experience was a T-45 at the British Open this year.
The afternoon tee times were less fortunate, and felt some of the wind that usually blows at this facility that is located right on the Atlantic Ocean. Pete Dye and his wife designed the Ocean Course so every hole has a view of the ocean, and 10 of the 18 holes play next to the water.
The most interesting round of the afternoon was that of Phil Mickelson. Even after missing most of the fairways and greens, and playing from almost every conceivable corner of the golf course, he managed to escape round 1 at 1 over par. This is a testament to Phil’s ability to scramble and pull off shots that most players only dream about. Playing with Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III, who did some scrambling of his own, Davis shot even par on the day. In a group of previous PGA Champions, Padriag Harrington was 2 under.
A threesome of this year’s major winners saw Masters Champion Bubba Watson struggle to a 1 over 73, Open Champion Ernie Els shot Even par, but U.S.Open winner Webb Simpson, after taking four weeks off, struggled all day, and shot 79. He will have to have a good Friday, or he may not be around for the weekend.
OK, if you haven’t been watching the broadcast, all of the sand areas on the golf course are being played through the green. That means they will be treated as if the ball is in the fairway, thus they are not bunkers or sand traps. If you catch one of the rounds this weekend, and see someone take some practice swings in the sand, or ground their club in the sand, don’t call the PGA, it’s legal. This rule was played here during the 1991 Ryder Cup and all subsequent tournaments on this golf course. This will eliminate any kinds of problems like Dustin Johnson had a couple of years ago, where it was difficult to tell if you were in a trap or not.
Sergio Garcia had a problem on the par 5 16th hole where, as he took some practice swings in preparation for his second shot, his ball moved a couple of inches. He called on an official and was told to put the ball back as close to where it was as possible. He was assessed a one stroke penalty, and made bogey on the hole. Sergio shot 76 and ended up at 4 over par.