The average winning score since golf resumed in June, has been 18-under - a figure that was largely influenced by last week’s Northern Trust, where Dustin Johnson lapped the field and shot 30 under at TPC Boston. But this took a dramatic turn at the opening of the BMW Championships as Olympia Fields Country Club reminded the players again why, exactly, it was chosen to host the 2003 U.S.
Open. Not only was it a sweltering and windy day on Thursday, but players had trouble finding the narrow fairways and paid dearly in rough with any misses. Only three players played Olympia Fields under par on Thursday in Round 1.
If a player were 2-over, they were gaining strokes on the field – good news for plenty of the big guns, as there were a lot of 2-overs, and worse. Leading the pack was Hideki Matsuyama at 3 under, with Tyler Duncan at 2 under and Mackenzie Hughes one shot further back.
“It’s a fair test of golf,” Dustin Johnson said. “It’s just hard. There’s nothing really tricky about it. It’s just hard. If you want a golf course to play tough, grow a little rough, make it firm and fast.
Every week, every golf course this firm and fast with a little bit of rough plays difficult”. “It was getting close (to U.S. Open conditions). If they could narrow the fairways another five yards, we’d be there,” said Adam Scott after a 2-over 72.
“But I’m glad we’re not, because I wasn’t hitting enough fairways”. “It’s the firmest and fastest I’ve ever played it, I think,” added Alex Noren after matching Scott’s 2-over total.
“I mean, it’s fun. It’s good. It’s just, you’ve got to just hit the fairways, hit the greens. Otherwise it’s tricky”. “I think everyone found it a grind out there,” said Rory McIlroy, who sits in a tie for fourth at even.
“The greens were firming up yesterday in the practice round, but that felt like Saturday at the U.S. Open out there rather than Thursday at a PGA Tour event”. One thing is for sure, at Olympia Fields, playtime is over.