Cole Tops Stacked Round 1 Leaderboard
Oak Hill showed its teeth for much of the day Thursday during the opening round of the 105th PGA Championship. But there were plenty of birdies too.
By day’s end, Eric Cole, playing in his second major championship, was 5 under after 14 holes. He is one shot ahead Bryson DeChambeau and two ahead of World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler, Dustin Johnson and Corey Conners, who each shot 3-under 67.
A frost delay at the beginning of the day pushed tee times back nearly two hours. The round will continue at 7 a.m. Friday with 11 groups remaining to finish. Round 2 will begin as previously scheduled.
Cole, 34, was streaky at two points during the round, making three birdies in a four-hole stretch early on Nos. 12, 14 and 15, then again on his back nine, Nos. 2, 3 and 4. He made only one bogey.
When Cole returns early Friday he will have four holes left – Nos. 6-9 – to attempt staying ahead of a host of the biggest names in the game. He missed the cut in his lone major start thus far, the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, but has played steadily on the PGA TOUR this year. He lost in a playoff to Chris Kirk at the Honda Classic and tied for fifth place three weeks at the Mexico Open at Vidanta.
“I played solid for the most part and got a couple of good breaks when I needed them,” Cole said. “So it was a good day.”
A slimmed down DeChambeau, who missed the cut last month at the Masters, played in the morning wave and shot a 4-under 66 that included six birdies and two bogeys.
“It's a fantastic round of golf at Oak Hill,” DeChambeau said. “It's a prestigious place. Very difficult golf course.
“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. But, luckily, I was able to play some really good golf, hit a lot of fairways, did my job and made some putts.”
Johnson and Adam Scott both made late hiccups. Johnson was tied for second place but made bogey on the last hole, attempting to finish in near darkness. He hit his approach short and left of the 18th green, chipped it to 14 feet and missed the par attempt. Scott, who tied for fifth place in the 2013 PGA at Oak Hill, was also tied for second place but made double bogey on the last hole to shoot 68. He hit his approach into the left greenside bunker, then hit a poor bunker shot, leaving the ball in the bunker. From there, he failed to get up and down.
Scheffler was calm and made three birdies and 15 pars during the morning session.
“Today was probably the easiest conditions we'll see all week with the golf course,” Scheffler said. “So getting around with no bogeys was really good.”
The biggest surprise of the day came from World No. 1 Jon Rahm, who shot 6-over 76 and is tied for 117th place. He made six bogeys, a double bogey and two birdies. Among other top names, Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa shot 71, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Cameron Smith shot 72 and Jordan Spieth shot 73.