Ferocious Oak Hill Daunts P.G.A. Championship Field, With More to Come
Birdies were at a premium for many of the 156 golfers vying for the Wanamaker Trophy at Oak Hill Country Club during the first round of the major tournament on Thursday.
Scottie Scheffler had, at least in the moment, a share of the P.G.A. Championship lead when he offered a foreboding prediction Thursday afternoon: Oak Hill Country Club, already playing to the point of menace in the first round, would only become more terrorizing.
The winds are expected to bluster. Rain is coming. And, for good measure, the East Course has been recently restored to bring back the diabolical, century-old wizardry of the architect Donald J. Ross.
“It’s just one of those places where you hit one shot maybe barely offline, and sometimes can you hit a good shot and end up in a place where it’s pretty penalizing,”
said Scheffler, the 2022 Masters Tournament winner, who nevertheless had his first bogey-free round in a major championship Thursday. “There’s lots of tough holes out there.”
The rough is showing itself to be ferociously retributive, the fairways so firm that balls are only so often staying in them
even after the frost that delayed Thursday’s start by nearly two hours had softened the turf.
Rory McIlroy, the four-time major champion, hit two fairways all day as he dueled with crosswinds off the tees.
But there was no parade of aggrieved players publicly fuming over the setup just outside Rochester, N.Y. Instead, as the tight leaderboard took shape before play was suspended because of darkness,
a brand of begrudging, knowing admiration took hold, even as the likelihood of a runaway winner seemed distant.
“Very difficult golf course,” said Bryson DeChambeau, whose four-under-par 66 put him in second place, one shot behind the solo leader Eric Cole, who did not complete his round on Thursday night.