A rain delay, only one eagle and just 15 players under par at Oak Hill goes to show how tough the first round of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship was.
Here are some of the main talking points from today’s play...
Oak Hill bares its teeth
When the Senior PGA Championship was last held at Oak Hill 11 years ago, Jay Haas took home the title with a score of seven over par – the second-highest in this tournament’s 80-year history.
Just 15 golfers finished the day under par, with only three of those coming from the afternoon’s groups.
Play was suspended during the first round for more than two hours due to a dangerous weather situation, and the afternoon’s competitors had to contend with strong winds in Rochester.
At the close of play, every hole had a scoring average of over par.
Major Champions show their class
Four of those 15 golfers who went under par are Major Champions. Two-time U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen leads that elite group with a score of 67, three under par, one stroke behind leader Scott Parel who set the pace with a round of 66.
The 2011 Open Champion Darren Clarke shares fifth on two under par, while 1999 Open winner Paul Lawrie and 1995 U.S. Open winner Corey Pavin carded one under par rounds of 69.
From computer programmer to professional golfer
First round leader Scott Parel has an interesting history. The 54-year-old worked for ten years a computer programmer after college before leaving his job to chase his dream of becoming a professional golfer.
He played a number of seasons on the Web.com Tour and made just five starts at US PGA Tour events. He earned full status on the PGA Tour Champions circuit for the 2016 season.
Since then, he has two victories on the American over-50s circuit, both coming in 2018, and earlier this year just missed out on a third title as he lost a seven hole play-off to Kevin Sutherland at the Rapiscan Systems Classic.
Thrilling Friday in prospect
After a tough Thursday which saw a scoring average of just over 74 – equivalent to four over par – the 156 competitors will all be looking to take advantage of the calmer conditions expected on Friday.
With no rain currently forecast and winds of up to nine miles per hour, the early starters have an opportunity to put the pressure on the afternoon groups who will face slightly stronger winds.
After Friday’s round, the top 70 golfers and ties will go on to face one of the toughest weekends in recent Senior Major history.