Pittsford, N.Y. — It didn’t take long for Jay Haas to be reminded of how gusting winds can wreak havoc on players attempting to navigate the narrow fairways of Oak Hill Country Club’s East Course.
“Got here on Sunday night and played nine holes Monday, and it was blowing, what, 25, 30 (miles per hour),” Haas said with a laugh Wednesday, a day before the Senior PGA Championship opens.
“I couldn’t wait to get off the golf course,” he added. “I was making bogeys and doubles on every hole. It was pretty discouraging.”
In some ways, the 65-year-old’s experience was no different than his previous visit to the Rochester suburbs 11 years ago. That’s when Haas overcame frigid conditions, heavy wind gusts and a one-stroke final-round deficit to finish with a 7-over 287 and win his second Senior PGA title.
And no, 7 over is not a misprint.
“There’s not many tournaments that you can be trailing by a stroke, shoot 4 over, no birdies and win the tournament,” Haas said. “That’s a testament to how difficult the golf course was playing that week.”
No need to remind Bernhard Langer, who shot a final-round 6-over 76 to finish second to Haas.
“I think that was some of the highest scoring and most difficult conditions I’ve ever experienced anywhere for four days in a row,” said the 61-year-old, who has one victory among his five top-10 finishes this season and ranks second on the money list. “This golf course is very difficult even if you have good weather.”
It shouldn’t be any different this time at the $3.25 million major, of which $585,000 goes to the winner. While temperatures are finally warming after an unseasonably rainy and chilly start to spring in western New York, the forecast for the next four days is all over the map.
There is the possibility for severe thunderstorms with wind gusts approaching 40 mph for the opening round today The forecast Friday is more settled, though about 10-degrees cooler, with temperatures in the mid-60s expected. And then there are more storms forecast for the weekend.
Lake Orion’s Tom Gillis is in the field and will tee off today at 12:10 p.m. Gillis is ranked 71st in the Schwab Cup standings with $47,633 in earnings.
PGA Tour returns to Texas
The Dallas-Fort Worth tour stops, the Byron Nelson and Colonial, were split up this year with the PGA Championship’s move up to May from late summer. The Nelson two weeks ago was played at Trinity Forest Golf Club for the second time after moving from the TPC Four Seasons.
Nine of the world’s top 20 players are at Colonial, topped by third-ranked Justin Rose, the defending champion.
While PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka and runner-up Dustin Johnson, the top two players, are taking a week off, five of the top 10 are in North Texas.
Koepka, who at 17 under was the 2018 Colonial runner-up three strokes behind Rose, was one of only two top-20 players at the Nelson two weeks ago.