sad new Tour Confidential: What’s the biggest surprise from Round 1 of the PGA Championship?

sad new Tour Confidential: What’s the biggest surprise from Round 1 of the PGA Championship?

Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors as they break down the hottest topics in the sport, and join the conversation by tweeting us at @golf_com.

Xander Schauffele went (really) low early, 64 players finished under par and some pre-tournament favorites posted middling showings. What was your biggest surprise or takeaway from Day 1 of the 2024 PGA Championship?

Zephyr Melton, assistant editor (@zephyrmelton): It’s strange to see Jon Rahm struggle the way he has thus far in major season. He was a non-factor at Augusta and that theme is holding true after 18 holes at the PGA. In the three seasons before he defected to LIV Rahm had seven top 10s (including two wins) in majors. Halfway through his inaugural LIV season, though, he’s not been the same golfer. (Even competing against the diluted fields of LIV, he’s yet to register a win in 2024.) Let’s hope he can find something in his game over the next three days. Majors are much more fun when Rahm is in the mix.

Sean Zak, senior writer (@sean_zak): That 62 is no big deal. That should be a stunning round of golf, but it’s not. Because a wet, soft course makes anything possible. The ball is moving on the ground only when it’s zipping back toward the hole. For a major championship, that should be surprising. But it is what it is. 

Jessica Marksbury, senior editor, (@jess_marksbury): Is it crazy to say Rory McIlroy? I know he’s been on a hot streak, but given the various things going on in his life at the moment it would be understandable to be a bit off this week. But here he is, right in the mix, with a solid round of five-under 66 to sit near the top of the leaderboard. That certainly bodes well for his ability to compartmentalize. 

Jack Hirsh, assistant editor (@JR_HIRSHey): Well, Sean and Jess took my first two choices, so I’ll use this space to pound my chest for my darkhorse pick of Sahith Theegala. He’s taken a lot of big steps since his first win in September and I really am excited for him to finally give himself a chance to be in contention come the weekend at a major.

Dylan Dethier, senior writer (@dylan_dethier): Nice work, Jack, making your biggest surprise something you predicted would happen. That feels illegal. But my biggest surprise is just how stacked the leaderboard is. The world No. 1 shot four under. The world No. 2 shot five under. The World No. 3 shot nine under. And the defending champ shot four under, too. The favorites are all right there. That might seem like sort of a dumb pick for “surprising” but things never quite work out this neatly. Should make for a fun weekend.

Josh Sens, senior writer (@JoshSens): I know that Ludvig Aberg took last week off to rest his knee. But the last reports were that his decision was mostly precautionary and that the knee wasn’t causing him any real discomfort.  With that in mind, I expected a lower number out of Aberg on a course that would seem to suit him, all the more so given the dartboard conditions.

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