Thoughts on the opening round of the 2023 PGA Championship:
Allow me a chance go gloat about being a Canadian.
Six Canadians started the 2023 PGA Championship and four of them made the cut. That’s huge because for the longest time the only Canadian of note was 2003 Masters winner Mike Weir (Titleist Pro V1), who now plays on the Champions Tour.
Leading the way is Corey Conners (Titleist Pro V1), who is tied for the lead at five-under par with Viktor Hovland (Titleist Pro V1) and Scottie Scheffler (Titleist Pro V1).
Taylor Pendrith (Callaway Chrome Soft X) is tied for eighth at one-under par, Adam Svensson (Callaway Chrome Soft X) is tied for 10th at even par and Adam Hadwin (Callaway Chrome Soft X) is tied for 35th at three-over par.
Nick Taylor (Titleist Pro V1) and Mackenzie Hughes (Titleist Pro V1), the other two in the field, did not survive the cut.
It was mentioned in ESPN’s broadcast of the event that because Conners is from Canada he wouldn’t mind the unpleasant weather conditions that included intermittent rain and wind in Rochester. I live about a seven-hour drive from Rochester and let me tell you this weather is nuts. It feels more like something you’d experience in late March or early April on eastern time.
“It was an interesting weather day, some rain and some wind, but it calmed down (late in the tournament),” Conners told ESPN after the round.
I don’t know Conners personally, though my daughter is a close friend with a woman who grew up in the same small town as him, but I doubt he enjoys this unseasonable weather.
Weather didn’t help him; it was his sublime swing and ability to make putts.
Weather was an issue before the tournament began when frost delayed the start by almost two hours.
Maybe that was an omen of the weather to follow.
The weather was so crazy that early into the second round, tour officials called in a crew with blowers to get rid of some pollen that was littering the greens and creating loose impediments. People in the gallery cheered the leaf blowers, one of whom raised his hand in appreciation. Surely he’ll be looking for video to tell his friends in years to come.
TALKING TRASH AND GARGAGE: ESPN golf host Scott Van Pelt asked ESPN hockey broadcaster Ray Ferraro if having so many Canadians in the PGA Championship made up for the fact there is no Canadian teams remaining in the Stanley Cup playoffs. ESPN is broadcasting both events. Ferraro is from Canada and is a golf fanatic. Van Pelt was sampling a Garbage Plate given to him and David Duval by the ESPN crew, so Ferraro provided some golf commentary.
Look, I don’t care what country you are from or what your food of choice is, it must take some kind of constitution to stomach the Garbage Plate, which is packed with enough slop that it will likely make it difficult to process. That said, I don’t want to insult anybody from Rochester, where this calorie concoction was invented and apparently savored.
BOOK IT, JACK: This may be the only time in history the late comedian Jack Benny’s name is included in a golf blog, but he popularized the phrase, Oh, Rochester! The droll comedian, which is somewhat of an oxymoron, loved to use Oh, Rochester in his routine. There is an audio book of nine hours of those routines called Oh, Rochester.
FAN FAVORITES SURVIVE THE CUT: Reigning champion Justin Thomas (Titleist Pro V1) bogeyed the final hole but still made it through at five-under par. He missed the Masters cut by one stroke and it looked almost like it was going to happen again but he managed a seven-poot putt. World number one Jon Rahm (Callaway Chrome Soft X), who started the day six-over par, finished at four-over par with a two-under second-round score. It could have easily been four-under par because he was a little unlucky on some holes. It will take a miraculous final 36 holes to win the tournament, but you can never count him out. Some of the other stars to survive included Rory McIlroy (TaylorMade TP5X), Xander Schauffele (Callaway Chrome Soft X), Cameron Smith (Titleist Pro V1x), Tony Finau (Titleist Pro V1), Jordan Spieth (Titleist Pro V1x) and Phil Mickelson (Callaway Chrome Soft X).
NOT THEIR DAY: Jason Day (Bridgestone TOUR B XS), Ricky Fowler (TaylorMade TP5x) and Matt Fitzpatrick (Titleist Pro V1) failed to make the cut. Day, who won last week’s Byron Nelson to end a drought of more than 1,800 days without a victory on the PGA Tour, looked like he was playing on fumes at the end.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I may need a couple more of these if I’m going to play this weekend.” Scott Stallings (Titleist Pro V1x), who opened the tournament with an eagle but finished eight-over par.