USPGA 2023: Cole in the lead, Perez in verve

The foghorn sounded at 8:30 p.m. local time (2:30 a.m. in France), in Rochester, in the state of New York, signifying the cessation of the parties. The last players on the course had then put on the little wool since the freshness of the morning, the frost having even delayed the games by nearly two hours, was beginning to reert itself. However, some clubs were very hot on a course of formidable difficulty (roughs of absolute density, narrow fairways, elevated greens), which has nothing to do with that of 2013 which had already hosted this Major.

Victor Perez’s clubs were then among the hottest. Starting from 10, the Frenchman had an extremely clean and solid first lap (-1, no bogey) when he was stopped at 7 (16 for him). Enough to position him in the Top 10, just four shots behind the leader. A major performance to be confirmed of course on Friday morning at dawn for the end of its initial lap.


Like the number of players under par on Thursday night out of a field of 156.

The leadership had just been taken by Eric Cole, also starting from 10 and who could only finish 14 holes (-5). The American has never won on the PGA Tour before but came close in the play-off of the Honda Clic, against Chris Kirk, last February. He is ahead of a trio made up of Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson (stopped at 18) and Bryson DeChambeau (-4).

All new, all DeChambeau

The latter appeared brand new, all beautiful and not just because it migrated to the LIV. Thinned, the American put a little softness and strategy in his game (yes, yes!). A less “crazy hitter” approach, tracking down yard records which allowed him to shine during this first round (6 birdies, 2 bogeys) when he was shattered against the cut at the Masters: ” I did the job! On a physical level, I reduced my calories per day. I stopped eating anything. I also did tests and saw that I was allergic to corn, wheat, gluten, dairy products, I stopped everything. I gained energy without losing speed and that’s what allows me to be long in the drive. I doubted, I even had severe doubts, but I never told myself that it was the end for me. And I’m happy to find my level “.

Scottie Scheffler has never lost his. Also starting from the 10th, he did not commit the slightest bogey. This is the first time this has happened to him in a Grand Slam. His three birdies (14, 5, 10 in the order of the holes tackled) masterfully sprinkled his day when he had not ped the cut last year in Tulsa (Oklahoma): “ Today, we probably had the best conditions we’ll have this week, namely without too much wind, and we had to take advantage of that. It’s a very hard course, where there aren’t many birdie opportunities, where the fairways are very narrow, like at 9. The idea is rather to limit errors. I drove well on the important shots, I made some nice save shots too. Corey Conners positioned himself at his height (-3).

The leaders in the hard

Considered the least prestigious of the Majors, while it still hosts the best field of players, the USPGA is currently held by Justin Thomas, who made a start on Thursday as timid as Brooks Koepka (+2). Rory McIlroy did slightly better (+1): “ I just wasn’t at my best and I drove badly. I just hit two fairways on the way out so I tried to make pars but it wasn’t enough. However, there are some glimmers of hope on the last holes. »

Hope has long seemed very distant to Tony Finau (+6 on the way) and Xander Schauffele (+4 on the first three holes) but recovery is underway. If Tom Kim Tom sank into the mud at 6, so much so that he had to go rinse himself in the stream and change before getting back to the clubs, Jon Rahm took on the water figuratively ( +6). The winner of the first Major of the year (Augusta Masters) will have a hard time bisser on Sunday. For the time being, he is even above the provisional cut on a course he is treading for the first time: “ I played well on the first seven holes finding the right areas. Then I really fought against the course and every time I couldn’t find the fairway it cost me dearly “. However, he ended up with a birdie and a par. Something to start the rebound and maintain hope.

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