CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It was a tough day at the office for Stuart Deane in today’s first round of the 99th PGA Championship. But, that didn’t keep the buoyant Aussie from remaining optimistic about his experience in one of professional golf’s most prestigious events.
Deane, UTA’s director of golf, turned in a 13-over par 84 today on the 7,600-yard, par 71 Quail Hollow Club golf course. He is one of several golfers in the field that shot over par by double figures on a course that features a degree of difficulty that is reflective of a major championship.
“It is just incredibly difficult,” said Deane, who is playing in his second PGA Championship. “The margins are really small and it is hard to get it close to the hole. I didn’t feel like I hit it terrible. In fact, I think I hit it pretty good. I just didn’t make a putt inside 10 feet today.
“All-in-all, this is a great experience. Zach (Cole) and I were walking down the fairway and talked about how, regardless of what happens, this is a win. We are representing UTA and our program. Zach is having a great time and we are trying our best on every shot.
“Zach had a great day. I had a great day. I feel like I’ve been beaten up, but that’s okay. It is still an awesome experience.”
Deane’s playing partners, Shane Lowry from Ireland and Pablo Larrazabal also struggled to over-par scores on the day. Lowry ended the day at 3-over 74, while Larrazabal turned in a 6-over par 77.
A number of accomplished players also posted high scores in today’s first round. Former world No. 1 ranked Ernie Els, who has 71 career victories and has won four major championships, turned in a 9-over par 80. Padraig Harrington, who has won three majors, carded an 8-over par 79. Charlotte native, and 21-time PGA TOUR winner, Davis Love III finished at 7-over par 78.
“I thought Shane played pretty well today and you look up and he is 3-over par,” said Deane. “The margins are just so small. You hit a great shot on a par 3 and you are trying to land a ball on a 2-by-2 square from 190 yards. If you miss that 2-by-2 square, now you are figuring you have a 20-footer or a chip to try to get close.”
Deane compared this year’s event with his experience in the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., saying Quail Hollow’s setup is proving to very difficult to manage.
“This is 10 times more difficult than Valhalla was,” said Deane. “The length of the golf course makes it tough. There is just nothing that lets up. You feel like you get an easy hole. You get a little aggressive, then you hit it in the wrong place and you have a tough time just trying to make par.
“I missed something like four fairways all day and I hit some great tee balls. When you miss the fairway… I had a couple that you could hardly see the golf ball when you are standing on top of it. That’s the way it is in a major championship.”
The tournament field returns to action tomorrow for the second round, beginning at 6:20 a.m. (CDT). After playing the early round this morning, Deane and his playing partners, Shane Lowry and Pablo Larrazabal, will start in the afternoon tomorrow. The group is scheduled to go off the first tee at 11:35 a.m.
Former UTA golfer Greg Gregory of Burleson shot 6-over par 77 in today’s round. He is scheduled to go off the 10th tee tomorrow at 1:20 p.m. His group consists of K.T. Kim and James Hahn.
Tomorrow’s second round will be televised live on TNT from 12 Noon - 6 p.m. (CDT). TNT will also provide coverage of the weekend's rounds from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., while CBS will televise live coverage from 1 p.m. - 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
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