PGA Championship 2019: What was the biggest surprise from Day 1 at Bethpage Black?

May 16, 2019
Tiger woods

Every night of major weeks, the GOLF.com staff congregates to debate one over-arching question from the day in a daily form of Tour Confidential. Today we ask…

We are 18 holes into the 101st PGA Championship. What was the biggest surprise from Day 1?

Jeff Ritter, digital development editor (@Jeff_Ritter): This week Bethpage was never going to punish players like it did during its two U.S. Opens, but I never thought it would surrender a 63. Brooks really put on a show.

Luke Kerr-Dineen, instruction editor (@lukekerrdineen): Everyone who doesn’t say Chez Reavie has clearly gone mad. Half the people here can hit the ball further than him! Reavie averaged 267 yards off the tee on Thursday and couldn’t reach two of the greens in regulation, yet he was so accurate that he finished the day ranked 9th in SG: Tee-to-Green and T-4. I can’t foresee him being able to sustain this kind of play, but give credit where it’s due: he scrapped his way to a damn good round.

Sean Zak, associate editor (@sean_zak): Okay, I’ll bite. Danny Lee being three strokes better than the non-Koepka field is shocking to me. It’s only 18 holes, sure, but six deep at Bethpage in a major is wicked good and I didn’t think he had that in him.

Jessica Marksbury (@jess_marksbury): Tiger’s roller-coaster round. I know questions have been swirling about the state of his health and general preparedness, but man! I didn’t think he’d be nine strokes back after Day 1.

Dylan Dethier, associate editor (@dylan_dethier): Tony Finau’s shirt — his whole ensemble, actually. The guy looked like a modern art exhibit. Nike’s golf gear is really getting out there, and I kinda dig it.

Jonathan Wall, equipment editor (@jonathanrwall): Opening with 72 doesn’t knock you out of contention, but I really expected more from Rory on Thursday. Hopefully that birdie on the last will get him going. Majors are a lot more fun when he’s firing on all cylinders.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer (@alanshipnuck): How about Rory McIlroy not making a birdie til his very last hole? This big, brawny course should set up perfectly for him but Rory continues his confounding performances in the majors. Sigh.

Alan Bastable, executive editor (@alan_bastable): Rory rolling over in the majors no longer qualifies as a surprise (fun fact: he hasn’t made a U.S. Open cut since 2015). That we got through 18 holes without any major fan disturbance was unexpected, especially with Big John wheeling around in a cart — thought for sure someone would help themselves to a ride.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer: The joy of a PGA championship in May.