5 things we learned in Round 1 of the 99th PGA Championship
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Brooks Koepka continues to be a force in major championships. The 27-year-old U.S. Open champion is playing in just his 17th major. In 10 of them, he's finished inside the top 20, including six top 10s.
Koepka kept his string of remarkable major play going on Thursday at the PGA Championship with a 3-under 68 that had him trailing co-leaders Thorbjorn Olesen and Kevin Kisner by one. Koepka's length is a massive advantage at Quail Hollow.
Koepka said that his success in the majors is because of the very calculated approach he takes.
Here's what Koepka had to say about his approach to the majors:
"I think it just comes down to, you know, preparation. We do a lot of work, and you know, we focus in on these majors, and that's when you're trying to peak, trying to play your best. Sometimes it's a lot simpler than people think. I think people kind of psyche themselves out quite a bit in a major, put too much pressure on themselves. It's the same game I've been playing for 23, 24 years. All you've got to do is put the ball in the hole and move on.
"I think people get quite frustrated sometimes in majors. I've seen it a lot. You've just got to stay really patient and realize sometimes bogey is not a bad score out here. It's quite difficult and you've just got to realize that, you know, you're in the first round of a four-round event. So, one hole isn't going to kill you.
"But in majors, I don't know what we've -- all I can say is I try not to make a double bogey. That's kind of my goal in a major; if I can keep doing that. I don't know when the last time is that I did that in a major. I'm sure it's happened. But I feel like, you know, it takes one hole to recover from a bogey and it takes two to come back from a double.
"You're not going to make many birdies in a major championship, so you need to stay patient and try to give yourself good looks."
Sounds like a solid approach.
Jordan Spieth's chase for a career Grand Slam at Quail Hollow still has life.
It's often said that you can't win a tournament on Thursday, but you can lose it. Spieth was the No. 1 storyline coming into this week with a chance to become just the sixth player in history to complete the career Grand Slam.
While the newest Open Championship winner struggled mightily with his typically trusty putter on Quail Hollow's lightning quick greens in Round 1, Spieth fought hard to rein in a round that could have gotten away. The recently turned 24-year-old shot a 1-over 72.
Though the 72 doesn't jump off the leaderboard, it should be noted that Spieth was 3-over for the day through 15 holes. He birdied the seventh and eighth — Nos. 16 and 17 of the day — to get two shots back.
At 1 over, Spieth trailed Olesen and Kisner by five strokes.
Yes, Spieth has work to do, but he's far from out of it.
"Historically, I'm pretty solid with the lead," he said. "So that was kind of the goal was to grab the lead. It's much easier when you are on the front page of the leaderboard than it is coming from behind. Given it's the first round, I know I'm still in it but I know that tomorrow's round becomes that much more important to work my way and stay in it. I've got to make up ground. If I'm five back at the start of the day, I've got to be less than five back after Friday to really feel like I can play the way this golf course needs to be played and still be able to win."
Maybe we’ll see another first-time major winner.
Since 2008 — nine PGA Championships — six PGA Championship winners have been first-time major winners, including the last two in Jason Day (2015) and Jimmy Walker (2016).
After the first round at Quail Hollow, 13 of the 15 players in the top 10 are without a major. Koepka is the only one of those with a major.
Here are the 13: Olesen (4 under), Kisner (4 under), Grayson Murray (3 under), D.A. Points (3 under), Gary Woodland (3 under), Chris Stroud (3 under), Tony Finau (2 under), Jim Herman (2 under), Patrick Reed (2 under), Paul Casey (2 under), Bud Cauley (2 under), Jon Rahm (2 under), Rickie Fowler (2 under) and Kevin Kisner (2 under).
This is not going to be your usual PGA Championship.
One of the things that we love about the PGA Championship is that while it's certainly a test for players, it also welcomes low scores. There are birdies to be had and players are welcome to go get them.
Quail Hollow will be no different in the "fair test" sense, but when it comes to scoring, anyone who was expecting to see a birdie barrage ... well, it's just not going to happen. Of the 156-player field, 24 broke par on Thursday with Olesen leading the way at 4 under.
Taking into account Quail Hollow's length — made even longer due to the wet weather in the last several days — along with the incredibly difficult final three holes known as the "Green Mile," there just aren't loads of opportunities for players to be overly aggressive.
Phil Mickelson, the 2005 PGA Champion, stated earlier in the week that we could possibly see a winning score around even par. I'm not sure that will be the case, but it wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see a winning score in the single-digits under par.
Co-leader Thorbjorn Olesen's first name is actually Jacob.
So how did the 27-year-old Dane go from "Jacob" to "Thorbjorn," which is actually his middle name?
"I don't think I really decided it myself to be honest," Olesen explained. "When I started in school, there was three Jacobs and so everybody called me Thorbjorn and then it just hanged on from there. I thought, why not, I'll still use it as a professional golfer. I think it's only really my mom that calls me Jacob. Yeah, everybody else calls me Thorbjorn."