FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- The opening round of the 101st PGA Championship is underway at Bethpage Black under mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 50s, heading to the upper 60s in the afternoon.
The course for the second major of 2019 is playing at 7,459 yards, a distance made longer by the fact that players aren’t getting much roll off the tee following rain last weekend and earlier this week.
The featured group of the morning is the one made up of the last three winners of major championships – Tiger Woods (Masters), Brooks Koepka (PGA) and Francesco Molinari (British Open). They started on the 10th hole where Koepka opened with a birdie and Woods made double bogey.
For Woods, it was the fourth time he opened a major with a double bogey or worse. He triple bogeyed his first hole last year in the U.S. Open at Shinnecock. However, he won the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines with an opening-hole double.
Another featured group is the trio of Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson, all of whom teed off first at No. 10.
Most of the major players starting in the morning began their rounds at No. 10, including Henrik Stenson, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele and Hideki Matsuyama.
Most of the top players in the afternoon will start on the first tee. The two featured groups are made up of Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth, and Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.
The afternoon contestants include Paul Casey, Tony Finau, Ian Poulter, Gary Woodland, Bryson DeChambeau, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Mark Leishman. And don’t forget John Daly, who will ride his cart out to the 10th hole and begin his round there.
Speaking of Daly, he played nine practice holes on Wednesday out of his cart and said he can’t figure out where he can go with it.
“Trust me, I hate riding in the cart,” Daly, 53, told the Associated Press. “If I could walk, I would do it. I could probably walk four holes and be done. The thing swells up so bad.”
The “thing” is his right knee, which has arthritis. The PGA of America granted him permission to use the cart under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a decision that opened it up to criticism.
Daly, who won the 1991 PGA Championship as the ninth alternate, said he wants to keep coming back.
“I am a past winner of this,” he said. “I just feel obligated. I don’t know why. I just do. It got me started in my career. It’s very special to me and I just feel like I need to play, or try to, anyway."
At Wednesday’s media availability with the golf team of CBS Sports, Gary McCord wondered if Woods will put almost all of his focus into majors and play fewer events on the PGA Tour.
“Is he going to start playing the majors and just a few tournaments and just really, really center on those?” McCord said. “Can he sustain what he had at Augusta?
“You know, it's a march upward now instead of a march downward, and how is he going to go about it in this new era that we've got in now where we're getting off just before football, and we've compressed this schedule down to a very finite group of tournaments, and how are these players going to act within that framework. Are we going to see more of this where they just play less and play the big ones?
“I don't know, it's going to be interesting to watch, but I'm really curious to see what Tiger does on this big, brawny golf course that he's won on before and to see if he can sustain what he's got going, because it's going to be a hell of a year if he does, if he keeps going the way he's going.”
Popular broadcaster Ian Baker-Finch will not be part of the CBS and TNT broadcasts at Bethpage Black because of the passing of his wife’s mother and stepmother within a 24-hour period in Australia.