By Steve Keating
ROCHESTER, New York (Reuters) – Going out in the morning wave Scottie Scheffler was left waiting on Thursday as opening round play at the PGA Championship was delayed nearly two hours due to frost.
But it did not take long for the Oak Hill layout or the world number two to warm up as Scheffler produced his first ever bogey-free round at a major to join Canadian Corey Conners on three-under 67 one back of clubhouse leader Bryson DeChambeau.
The day got off to worrying start with players and spectators bundled up in wool hats, gloves and winter coats but by mid-morning the freezing temperatures and frost were gone, giving way to sunny skies, no wind and soft greens.
Scheffler, winner of two events this season, figured the conditions are the best beastly Oak Hill will see all week and took advantage staying out of the danger while picking up a single birdie on his outward nine and two more after the turn.
“Today was probably the easiest conditions we’ll see all week with the golf course,” assessed Scheffler, who can replace Spaniard Jon Rahm as world number one if he is able to walk away with the trophy on Sunday. “So getting around with no bogeys was really good.
“I mean, that’s pretty much how I shot three-under.
“There’s not really many birdie opportunities out there. So if you can limit the mistakes, good things will happen, I guess.”
The round was typical Scheffler, no fireworks just consistent, solid play as he kept the ball out of the gnarly rough where Rahm spent much of his round, the Spaniard slumping to a six-over 76.
While Scheffler, Masters champion in 2022, failed to make the cut last year in Tulsa, he has been a contender at the other two PGA Championships he has contested. He tied for fourth in 2020 and equal eighth the following year.
“I came into today’s round just trying to play solid golf,” said Scheffler. “No matter what position I’m in going into tomorrow, I would be grinding it out.
“This is one of those places where that’s what you have to do.
“You just try and stay in position, make the important par putts and just keep the momentum going.
“I did a good job of that today.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Rochester, editing by Pritha Sarkar)