In the run-up to Thursday’s opening round, the new holes at Quail Hollow, followed by the tournament’s move to May in 2019, held our attention. With the firing of the first shots, all eyes turned to the action in Charlotte, North Carolina. A few things about the course, the competitors and the potential outcomes, became apparent during Thursday’s first round, so we wrapped these five things we learned for you with a special bow.

1) Bogeys will happen

Anyone who expects to get around the venomous Quail Hollow course with zero bogeys is delusional. They are out there, they will find your scorecard, but they can be more than overcome. Thorbjorn Olesen had six birdies in his opening 67, while other players notched birdies and eagles in flocks. Quail Hollow features traditional (as in, pre-Mike Davis) U.S. Open conditions, meaning that the winning score might be at par or just slightly under.

2) Runaway winner? Please!

As of 7:30 p.m on Thursday, 32 golfers were at even par or better. Thanks to point No. 1 above, there is little chance that anyone will separate himself from the field. Even if a number in the low 60s were to happen at some point this week, the odds of maintaining that pace over Charlotte’s fanged beast are slim. Expect a down-to-the-wire tournament come Sunday. WARNING: Byeong Hun An’s start is unlikely to be repeated.

3) Quail Hollow demands concentration for 18 holes

In case it’s unclear after points 1 and 2, this will be no cake walk. Bunkers are plentiful, and the rough is not forgiving. Oh, and there’s plenty of water. Not to mention 7600 yards to traverse. On the plus side, the bunkers are delightful to play from and the greens are buttery-smooth for putting. Lots of deep breaths, plenty of zen thoughts, and you might bag yourself a major championship.

4) Major champions are lurking

What these guys (Koepka, McIlroy, Oosthuizen, Day, Johnson and Johnson) have is apparent, but anything but simple. They have that rare combination of wisdom, confidence, patience and skill that allowed them to break through for major titles. The absence of wiggle room, or margin for error, plays right into their hands. You’ll see plenty of unfamiliar names cross the leader board this week, but the one at the top come Sunday will certainly have multiple major titles to his credit.

5) Unless…

The PGA is known for breakout winners. Shaun Micheel…Jeff Sluman…Davis Love III. We could go on, but these guys won just one major, and they could not be happier. Here’s a list of guys who might break through, based on round one tallies:

Jon Rahm
Rickie Fowler
Matt Kuchar
Patrick Reed
Hideki Matsuyama
Paul Casey

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Ronald Montesano writes for from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.


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