Oak Hill is ready for the PGA Championship, but the players may not be
ROCHESTER, NY – Players should expect the unexpected at this week’s PGA Championship in Oak Hill, especially as many of them enter the first round after barely seeing the pitch.
Any golfer who had an easy day of practice on Monday is unlikely to be fully prepared to tackle the big championship test that lies ahead when his name is called on Thursday’s first tee. That’s because Tuesday’s practice rounds were less than ideal or completely out of whack for many golfers due to extreme wind conditions.
Canada’s Adam Hadwin said Tuesday’s winds were among the strongest he’s ever played in – and he’s played quite a bit of golf.
“You can always achieve something, you just have to be realistic about what you want to achieve,” Hadwin said of preparing for a tournament in gusty winds. “Nine of us played in obviously very difficult conditions. I don’t want to say it was useless because you can always gather information, you can always plan for the week, but when the conditions are twice as windy as that, you’ll see.” It’s a bit difficult to prepare in the tournament . You have to have the right attitude.”
And that right attitude isn’t likely to be found in chasing his hat like Nick Taylor had to do twice after it blew off his head.
Both Canadians abandoned their practice round after nine holes and headed to the driving range, where they spent a few moments watching passenger planes go off course overhead. Not exactly a sight to inspire confidence when standing over the golf ball.
Neither Hadwin nor Taylor have played Oak Hill before and both men went into Wednesday’s final day of prep without seeing the last nine of the beefy Parkland course.
“It’s definitely a major championship golf course,” Hadwin said. “It will take everything in your pocket, and patience will probably be the most important thing.”
Hadwin pointed out the redesign 503-yard par 4 The sixth hole is particularly recommended because of its difficulty.
“You have a difficult tee shot, again it all depends on the weather conditions, but if you pull it a little to the left you’re in a bunker and you can’t cross a creek 60 meters from the green,” he said. “If you push it a little to the right, you’re in the water. Even if you hit the fairway, you’re faced with a 200-yard shot onto a green that doesn’t handle golf balls very well.”
Hadwin said the greens at Oak Hill appear to be much smaller than most major championship courses and hitting them is not an easy task considering there are four par-4s over 480 yards. Also, there are only two par 5s on the course, both of which are over 600 yards long.
Canadians certainly weren’t the only ones thronging to study Oak Hill. Brooks Koepka was asked early Wednesday afternoon what he thought of the course and had difficulty with the answer.
“I haven’t played the back nine yet,” Koepka said. “I think was the 14th rideable? I would be interested to see the back nine today. I think I could probably answer that by the end of today.”
The good news on Wednesday was that the wind was gone. The bad news was that morning temperatures were hovering around freezing point bringing frost, mittens and grazes to the track.
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“I still can’t believe it’s almost mid-May,” Jason Day said of the temperature. “But that’s this part of the country at this time of year.”
Thursday morning is expected to be just as cold with the possibility of a frost delay before a pleasant warm up for four days of major championship golf at a proper major championship test at Oak Hill.
“The prep won’t be as clean, or you won’t be able to swing it as hard as you can tomorrow, or you won’t be able to do as much, but that’s okay,” said Day. “I hope you made use of the first two days.”
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