ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI | Notice anything about the top of the leaderboard at the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club?
Gary Woodland. Bomber.
Brooks Koepka. Bomber.
Dustin Johnson. Bomber.
Thomas Pieters. Bomber.
Kevin Kisner. Outlier.
Bellerive is a big golf course, especially playing to a par-70, and the conditions – hot and steamy with rain-softened fairways and greens – have altered the equation in the season’s final major.
It works for some players. For others, not so much.
“A little frustrated at this place in general,” Jordan Spieth said after shooting 66 Friday. “It’s tough to come to a venue with bentgrass greens and this kind of weather. This course would be phenomenal and probably is phenomenal, if it’s not playing so soft.
“You just fire in and you get away with more, like you don’t have to be as precise. That’s frustrating in a major championship because typically what it does is you don’t really have to be as precise on and around the greens. That’s frustrating to me because I feel like that’s an advantage that I have.”
Spieth was quick to point out that had Bellerive played firm and fast Thursday, his first-round 71 would have been significantly higher given the way he hit the ball.
The playing conditions are no surprise. For Kisner, who shot 64 Friday and is one behind his Thursday-Friday playing companion Woodland, who shot 66, longer but softer has helped.
“Greens are receptive, so my 4-iron stops as quick as (Woodland’s) 7-iron. If they were firm, I don’t think I would have a chance with the way the greens are situated and the places they’re putting the flags. But being receptive that’s my only hope,” Kisner said.
The course conditions aren’t likely to change significantly over the weekend.
“It’s a bomber’s paradise from that point of view,” Justin Rose said. “It’s a ballstriker’s golf course. Because it’s soft I think obviously the pins are really, really tucked today, so if you do drive it really well, then you could have wedges to be aggressive into those corners of the greens.”