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PGA Championship report: LIV star and rookie spring first surprise

Bryson DeChambeau set the early pace at Oak Hill before being overtaken. Matt Chivers gets us up to speed from New York

 

It’s difficult to keep up with all the action at Oak Hill – so we’ll keep you up to speed with what you may have missed in our daily PGA Championship Report.

PGA Championship Report Day 1

The cold weather and frost got the better of round one to begin with – each tee time was pushed back by one hour and 50 minutes.

But once play got underway at 8.50am local time in Rochester, New York, the sun was out and so were the players…

So what happened?

Viewers at home and spectators on the ground didn’t have to wait long for the cluster of featured groups to enter the fray after the frost delay.

In his typical style, Scottie Scheffler emerged as one of the early frontrunners with a round of 3-under-par, marking his first-ever bogey-free round at a major championship.

The former Masters champion arrived at Oak Hill off the back of finishing tied for fifth at the AT&T Byron Nelson in Texas last week.

Despite coming out the blocks with a birdie on the 10th hole, his first of the day, Jon Rahm slumped to an uncharacteristic 76 including six bogeys and a double-bogey on the par 4 7th hole.

Thursday’s round was the first time the Spaniard had been 5-over-par at any point at an event since the second round of last year’s BMW Championship.

Rahm could now be looking over his shoulder and hoping to avoid a first missed cut at a major since the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage.

Rory McIlroy plugged away on the back nine after making three bogeys in his opening nine holes.

The two-time PGA Championship winner holed an incredible 37-foot putt for par from below the green on the 2nd hole, which kickstarted a positive back nine with three birdies.

His score of 1-over could prove to be useful, but while the featured groups were wrapping up, Bryson DeChambeau was storming up the leaderboard.

Much of the talk concerning the difficulty of Oak Hill this week has brought comparisons with Winged Foot – the venue where DeChambeau stormed to his US Open victory in 2020.

The man now at LIV Golf took full advantage of the conditions to make six birdies on his way to a 4-under 66 – a score we might not see again with the course expected to show its teeth as time goes on.

Late in the day, PGA Tour rookie Eric Cole made three consecutive birdies at the start of his second nine to reach 5-under to lead the way on his own.

Cole lost to Chris Kirk in a playoff at the Honda Classic earlier in the season.

Fore please!

PGA Professional Kenny Pigman was on the 18th tee box when a ball came flying over the trees and hit him on the shoulder.

It happened to be one of DeChambeau’s drives – a rare wayward one on a day the US Open champion hit nine of 14 fairways.

Luckily for Pigman, who went on to bogey the par 4 18th hole, he didn’t seem injured by the incident.

Slow play was the order of the day (again)

It’s the phrase no one can keep from their lips at the moment and it seems Scottie Scheffler has become the latest culprit in the case of slow play in professional golf.

Scheffler appeared to take five minutes to take a shot on the 14th hole which the American went on to birdie.

Although he isn’t in camera shot, it was claimed Scheffler’s playing partner Gary Woodland hurried him along, indicated by the former Masters champion raising both arms.

Pace of play has become a hot topic of discussion on the PGA Tour since Patrick Cantlay was forced to field criticism during the final round of the Masters.

Best (or worst) dressed of the day?

Viktor Hovland is no stranger to standing out on the golf course, both with his impressive performances and his out-of-the-box clothing choices.

The young Norwegian, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, opted for a bright look in New York on Thursday and he was inspired to a 2-under 68.

After the first day of play, Hovland was asked if he dresses as brightly off the course as he does on it:

“No,” he said, “I wear a lot of grey, black, and that’s about it (laughing).

“Well, J.Lindeberg, they give me this stuff and pay me money to do so, so I just show up and wear what they want me to wear.”

What was the best shot of the day?

Scott Stallings started his round in perfect fashion with a hole-out eagle on the 10th – the American went on to shoot 74.

And the best stat?

Challenge accepted…

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Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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