The trio of Tiger Woods (right), Padraig Harrington (left) and Rich Beem was a sparkling 10 under on the day. (Cannon/Getty Images)
Early scores indicate that birdies needed to stay in contention
The supergroup of Tiger Woods, Padraig Harrington and Rich Beem combined to shoot 10 under. All three of them were making it look easy out there, which it is when all you do is hit fairways and greens.
By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
CHASKA, Minn. -- Hazeltine National Golf Club is the longest course in major championship history at 7,674 yards.
So far, however, its bark has been a lot louder than its bite.
I was out there all morning and, with the fear of sounding like Captain Obvious, if you keep your ball in play there are certainly low scores to be had.
Take, for instance, the supergroup -- Tiger Woods, Padraig Harrington and Rich Beem. That threesome combined to shoot 10 under. All three of them were making it look easy out there, which I suppose it is when all you do is hit fairways and greens.
In his bogey-free round of 5-under 67, Woods hit 12 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens. The 67 is his best round in a major since a 63 in the second round of the 2007 PGA Championship at Southern Hills, which he won. It was also just the third time in a major that Tiger has opened with a bogey-free round. The other two? The 2000 U.S. Open and Open Championship, which, you guessed it, he won.
Harrington, the defending champ, was brilliant too with his 4-under 68. The Irishman had pretty much fallen off the golf map this season while working on a new swing, but seems to have brought some momentum into Hazeltine after a solid tie for second at Firestone last week.
Beem hasn’t exactly been lights out on the PGA Tour since winning at Hazeltine in 2002, but apparently this place brings out the best in him. Beemer shot a 1-under 71 in the first round, which could have been a whole lot better were it not for a double bogey on the par-5 third hole.
As is typically the case early in the week at a major, players were insistent that par is your friend around Hazeltine. That might still prove to be the case, but birdies so far seem a lot easier to come by than everyone thought.
The course received roughly six inches of rain in the days just before the PGA Championship started. It’s dried up significantly, but the humidity is keeping the fairways on the softer side and making the greens much more receptive, and a brief mid-afternoon shower only helped.
That’s been evident in the scoring.
Players don’t usually keep a torrid pace in majors, so maybe things will even out here at Hazeltine. So far, though, it’s looking like par will only be your friend on the weekend if you made a lot of birdies in the first two rounds.