Thursday's golf: Pontiac native Parel shoots 66 to lead wind-altered Senior PGA Championship
Pittsford, N.Y. — Scott Parel took advantage of ideal scoring conditions Thursday morning to shoot a 4-under 66 and take the first-round lead in the weather-delayed Senior PGA Championship.
The gusting afternoon wind, which buffeted flags and shook hospitality tents across Oak Hill Country Club’s East Course, hadn’t yet fully arrived when Pontiac native Parel closed with birdies on the par-4 17th and 18th. Retief Goosen, Marco Dawson and Ken Tanigawa were a stroke back.
The round was completed just before 9 p.m., about a half-hour after the sun set, and 14 hours after the first group teed off. The long day was the result of late-morning thunderstorms that caused a delay of 2 hours, 15 minutes.
Parel also eagled the par-5 fourth, dropped a stroke on the par-4 seventh and birdied the par-5 13th.
Jesper Parnevik, Jeff Maggert and Darren Clarke shot 68s on the 6,800-yard course that changed in complexion with the dramatic shifts in weather that rolled through suburban Rochester.
The day began with temperatures in the mid-60s and hardly a whiff of a breeze. Though rain softened the usually fast greens in the afternoon, players faced 15 to 25 mph wind, with gusts up to 40. That played havoc on the narrow course with tiny greens and placed a premium on avoiding the rough.
Of the 15 players who finished under par, 12 came from the morning groups and just three from the afternoon.
Tom Gillis (Lake Orion) score a 74 and was tied for 70th.
The morning groups combined to finish averaging a score of 73, with the average ballooning to nearly 76 among the afternoon players.
“We couldn’t have had it any easier,” said Goosen, who had four birdies and a bogey after teeing off at 8:20 a.m. “There was not a breath of wind and the greens were still fresh. So birdies were there to be made early on.”
Defending champion Paul Broadhurst was in a group of 12 players who shot even-par 70.
PGA Tour Champions money leader Scott McCarron failed to take advantage of morning advantage by shooting 2 over. He was playing his third major in three weeks after winning the senior major Regions Tradition and then missing the cut at the PGA Championship at Bethpage on Long Island last weekend.
Play was suspended at 11:29 a.m. and didn’t restart until 2:44 p.m.
The 54-year-old Parel, who teed off at 8:50 a.m., was even par through the first three holes before holing a putt for eagle on the 570-yard No. 4. He posted just one bogey, which came on No. 7.
Parel said he benefited from the lack of wind in the morning, and also got a boost once play resumed with the wind at his back on the 477-yard, par-4 closing hole, which he birdied. He felt bad for those who were still on the course.
“From the way the wind’s blowing now, 100 percent yet, the guys this afternoon are going to have a much harder time,” Parel said. “Luckily, I took advantage of being on the good end of the wave in good conditions.”
Parel didn’t take up professional golf until his 30s, and in his third full season on the senior tour.
He joked about benefiting from this being his first time playing at Oak Hill, unlike many others who have competed at previous majors the course has hosted.
“Maybe I don’t have the scars from this golf course that a lot of other guys have,” Parel said.
Dawson, whose group teed off at 2:25 p.m., expressed relief in shooting 3 under given the conditions.
“Very happy with the round. I wasn’t expecting it. I thought it was going to be a tough day,” said Dawson, the 2015 British Senior Open winner. “Two-over-par was probably a good score with this wind.”
Tanigawa got off to the day’s best start. He was 3 under through nine and then birdied Nos. 10 and 13 in getting to 5 under before bogeying each of the next two holes.
“That’s not really how I envisioned my first bogey,” he said, referring to a three-putt on the 323-yard, par-4 14th hole. “I thought I might hit it in the rough and have to chop out to make a routine bogey.”
The 51-year-old joined the PGA Tour Champions last year, and after he walked away from professional golf after an unsuccessful year on the then-Nationwide Tour in 2003. Tanigawa counts one senior victory, the PURE Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach, California, last year.
He grew up in southern California, and was teammates with PGA Tour regulars Scott McCarron and Brandt Jobe at UCLA, and spent 11 years playing professionally in Australia, Asia and Japan.
If Jordan Spieth is going to end a victory drought that’s approaching two years, the three-time major winner picked a good place to give himself a chance.
Spieth opened with a 5-under 65 at Colonial at Fort Worth, Texas, in his second Texas homecoming in three weeks – coming off his best finish of the season at the PGA Championship – and trailed Tony Finau by one shot. Roger Sloan joined Spieth in the tie for second.
Back when he was collecting trophies regularly three years ago, Spieth won on the cozy course made famous by Ben Hogan, and that was between a pair of second-place finishes in Fort Worth. So when it comes to feeling good about his game, Spieth’s in the right place, just a few miles from his hometown of Dallas.
But the former Texas Longhorn didn’t necessarily have to be here, a week after tying for third at the PGA for his first top 20 this season.
“I didn’t put it above or below any other week,” said Spieth, whose last victory was the 2017 British Open. “I know my game has been progressing. I’ve been saying that for the last month or six weeks or so. Results just end up coming when I actually start playing better golf. Simply put, that’s just what I’ve been doing.”
Brian Stuard (Jackson) shot an even-par 70 and was tied for 38th.
Defending champion Justin Rose, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 3, shot 74 with four bogeys on the back nine.
The other four players from the top 10 in the field also were over par: No. 7 Francesco Molinari (1-over 71), eighth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau (72), No. 9 Xander Schauffele (76) and 10th-ranked Rickie Fowler (74).
J.J. Henry, who played in college for Colonial neighbor TCU, and two-time Colonial runner-up Jason Dufner were among nine at 67. Ryan Palmer had the only bogey-free round on his home course, finishing at 68 with seven others.
Spieth kick-started his round by chipping in for birdie on the par-3 13th, his fourth hole of the round. He ended up with seven birdies in a span of 10 holes, the other highlight a 46-foot putt on No. 4.
A double bogey at 18, with a second shot into the water left of the green, finished Spieth’s front nine and was the only thing between him and the lead as he tries to keep climbing in the world rankings. Spieth jumped nine spots to 30th after the PGA.
“I think the course fits me well,” said Spieth, who tied for 29th in his hometown tournament, the Byron Nelson, two weeks ago. “It seems to have fit me well whether I’ve had form coming in or not. I know which spots to play to. I don’t try and do too much.”
Finau, who hasn’t finished higher than 60th in three tournaments since tying for fifth at the Masters, had five birdies over seven holes before closing with five straight pars. His best Colonial finish was a tie for 19th in his debut four years ago.
After changing his putting grip following a closing 79 at the PGA, Finau had four birdie putts from 19 feet or longer while hitting just three of 14 fairways. He avoided a second bogey with a chip-in on the par-3 16th.
“I didn’t know I only hit three fairways,” said Finau, the last of the nine top 20 players in the field at No. 16. “I still felt like I could hit most of the greens from wherever position I was.”
Sloan, a Canadian living in Houston who hadn’t been to Colonial before this week, had a steady round with three birdies on each side. He said his swing coach thought the cozy layout would fit the 32-year-old’s game. He hasn’t played on Sunday in five straight tournaments, missing the initial cut in the first four.
“That’s the tendency every year for me, get off to a good start, go into a little bit of a lull,” said Sloan, whose only victory was on the Canadian tour in 2011. “So I’m pleased that I was able to turn things around heading into the last little kick of the regular season.”
Kevin Kisner, playing with Spieth two years after edging him by a stroke to win Colonial, shot 72.
Of the 12 players atop the leaderboard, 11 played in the morning. Conditions toughened later with temperatures reaching 90 in steady 20 mph winds.
Bronte Law chipped in for eagle on the par-5 third hole and shot a 6-under 65 at for a share of the lead in the Pure Silk Championship with Anna Nordqvist and Jennifer Song.
Law added a birdie on the par-4 seventh — the Englishwoman’s 16th hole in a bogey-free round at windy Kingsmill Resort.
Song birdied all three par 5s in her bogey-free round in the final event before the U.S. Women’s Open next week at the Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina.
Nordqvist rallied after bogeying No. 3. The Swede birdied Nos. 7, 9 and 10 and 13-16.
Canadian Brooke Henderson was a stroke back with Katherine Perry, Jacqui Concolino, Gemma Dryburgh and Jasmine Suwannapura.