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Tyrrell Hatton fears the pace of play could be “stupidly slow” as the 104th US PGA Championship gets under way at Southern Hills on Thursday.
It is not uncommon for rounds to take more than five hours on the opening two days of major championships, but this week’s course layout in Tulsa looks set to exacerbate the issue.
The second green, third tee, fifth green, sixth tee and seventh tee are all within close proximity of each other, while the first and 10th holes head in different directions from the same small teeing ground.
“They are going to have to be fairly careful with how they set the golf course up because of where some of the tee boxes are,” said Hatton, who branded Augusta National “unfair at times” after closing rounds of 79 and 80 in the Masters last month.
“The rounds could be just stupidly slow, which at the end of the day no one wants. You want to get around in a reasonable time. Hopefully, they’re fairly smart with how they do that.”
Ryder Cup team-mate Ian Poulter feels Southern Hills is “as good a tough course as I’ve seen in a long time”, but agreed with Hatton’s assessment on the pace of play.
“We’re teeing off over two greens so you have a stop-start issue right there,” Poulter said. “We played one hole on the back nine where you’re winging it straight over the green you’ve just come off. It’s going to be long.”
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Architect Gil Hanse has overseen a restoration of the course since Tiger Woods won his 13th major title here in 2007, with a number of trees removed and run-off areas becoming a bigger feature around the greens. Woods undertook a scouting trip to the course last month and had the club’s director of golf Cary Cozby as his caddie. “I think he can contend,” Cozby said. “Whoever wins here is going to have to be a great chipper and he is still that.”
Key tee times (all BST)
1300 John Daly, Shaun Micheel, YE Yang
1411 Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods
1936 Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler
Early morning thunderstorms should move east allowing partly cloudy, windy and hot temperatures to return on Thursday before a cold front approaches the region on Friday. Scattered showers and thunderstorms will likely develop late in the day and continue into overnight. Storms could be severe on Friday night with large hail, strong winds and heavy rainfall.