2023 PGA Championship: Scottie Scheffler shoots 67, his first bogey-free round at a major
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – During his pre-tournament interview on Tuesday, Scottie Scheffler said on more than one occasion that his game was in “a really good spot” heading into the 105th PGA Championship at Oak Hill.
On Thursday, Scheffler backed up his confident words, carding a bogey-free 3-under 67 at Oak Hill, which tied him with Canadian Corey Conners for second place, just one stroke off the pace set by Bryson DeChambeau.
“Today was probably the easiest conditions we’ll see all week with the golf course. So getting around with no bogeys was really good,” Scheffler said. “If you can limit the mistakes, good things will happen, I guess.”
Good things have been happening for Scheffler all year. He already has bagged two PGA Tour titles, the WM Phoenix Open in February and the Players Championship in March. In 10 starts this year, he hasn’t finished worse than T-12, and is coming off a T-5 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his hometown of Dallas last week.
Scheffler, who started on the back nine, poured in 15-foot birdie putts at the short par-4 14th and the par-3 fifth and wedged from 121 yards to 3 feet to set up his final birdie of the day at No. 8.
The start of the tournament was delayed for more than an hour by frost, but it didn’t bother Scheffler, who received word that tee times would be pushed back while he was still at his rental house.
“So I showered and shaved and all that stuff. I basically just went back to sleep,” he said.
If there has been any weakness with his game of late it has been with his putter – especially at the Masters in April – but that wasn’t the case in the opening round of the PGA Championship.
“I hit a lot of good putts today,” he said. “The more free and loose I can play, especially on the greens, it’s usually the better off I am.”
May 18, 2023; Rochester, New York, USA; Scottie Scheffler reacts after missing a putt on the ninth green during the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Oak Hill Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Scheffler’s scorecard was better off for him sinking a clutch 4-foot par putt at the par-5, fourth hole after tugging his tee shot into trouble.
“I would hate to bogey a par 5, especially when there’s only two of them around this place. That was good momentum,” he said.
Scheffler carried that momentum to his first bogey-free round in a major thanks to going 7-for-7 in scrambling.
Scheffler said the Donald Ross design, which has undergone a restoration by Andrew Green since this championship was last held here in 2013, played like a major, perhaps more like a U.S. Open, where hitting fairways is paramount and par is a good score.
“I felt like at the beginning of the week it was going to play pretty hard, so I’m glad that it wasn’t just me that felt it is that way,” he said.
DeChambeau, the 2020 U.S. Open champion who joined LIV Golf reportedly for more than $100 million last year, made six birdies en route to the low round of the day.
“It’s a fantastic round of golf at Oak Hill,” he said. “As I was looking at it throughout the week, I’m like, man, I don’t know how shooting under par is even possible out here on some of the golf holes.”
Two-time PGA Championship winner and world No. 3 Rory McIlroy overcame a sluggish start and hitting just two fairways, his fewest ever in a major championship round, to shoot 1-over 71.
“I’m just struggling with my swing,” McIlroy admitted. “It’s pretty messy out there, so just trying to make pars.”
Defending PGA champion Justin Thomas managed just one birdie in shooting 2-over 72 while good friend Jordan Spieth, who is bidding to complete the career Grand Slam this week, posted 3-over 73. That was still better than world No. 1 Jon Rahm, who made five bogeys in a six-hole stretch and shot 6-over 76, his highest score of the year.
“If I can somehow manage to putt a low one tomorrow and find myself close to even going into Sunday, I think I’ll have a decent chance,” Rahm said.
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