By Ann Liguori
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WFAN) — The speed and tricky undulation of the greens grabbed most of the attention during the opening round of the PGA Championship.
Many of the players talked about how tough it was out there on Thursday.
Sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s baked the course and the greens. Despite rain earlier in the week, the SubAir system at Quail Hollow pulls moisture from the greens. They obviously dried quickly and became more firm and speedy from the bright sunlight.
Jordan Spieth, who shot a 1-over 72, said he couldn’t “putt any worse than I did today. The pins are on 2 1/2 to 3 degree slopes. When you are pin high, it may look like … the crowd goes “oh,” but in our mind, it’s really essentially a 20-footer with the expectation on the putts. They are difficult to make if you don’t leave it below the hole with not a lot of break.”
Added four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, who also shot 72, “The greens were difficult. Greens got very grainy as the day went on as well. If you just hit a putt a tiny bit off line, it exaggerated it. It was tough to hole putts this afternoon.”
Even though Brooks Koepka shot 68, and is one shot off the lead, this year’s U.S. Open champ said he wasn’t exactly comfortable on the greens.
“I don’t know what that was. I think it has a lot to do with the speed of the greens, how fast they were,” Koepka said. “With some of the pin locations, these greens are the fastest greens I’ve ever played. And the thing is, they are only going to get faster and firmer.”
“I don’t know what they did,” Koepka continued. “I don’t know what they are rolling. You never really quite felt like the ball was ever going to stop.”
Thorbjorn Olesen, the 27-year-old from Denmark, and American Kevin Kisner are tied for the lead. Both birdied the 18th to close with 67.
“It warmed up a lot today and that made the ball go a lot longer and you got a little bit of run on the fairways now,” Olesen said. “You didn’t get that the last couple of days. So that made it a little bit easier. But saying that, then the greens got a lot firmer, also.”
Kisner somehow birdied three of the last five holes.
“The greens are so firm, you can’t control your spin. If I can just keep hitting fairways, I’m going to like my chances,” the 33-year-old said.
With thunderstorms in the forecast the next three days, the greens will soften and slow down. The toughness of the greens and the Bermuda rough made Quail Hollow “the story” on Day 1.
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