SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — It’s Day 1 of the 2016 PGA Championship, and player reviews of the Lower course here at Baltusrol are already rolling in. Australian Marcus Fraser is not a fan.
Fraser, who will represent Australia in Rio de Janeiro at the Olympic Games in less than two weeks, was not shy about sharing his dislike for Baltusrol as the host for the 98th PGA Championship and the season’s fourth and final major. He cites the length, lack of shot-making options and challenging rough as hindrances to the iconic Tillinghast track.
“It doesn’t feel like a major championship course. Not the way it is playing or set-up. It just feels like it is presented to fit only one type of player. And that player is not me,” Fraser told Golf Australia ahead of the tournament. “That’s how it is and the way most courses are on Tour these days. But that doesn’t make it right. Of the four majors this has to be the one that is least distinct from a regular event. It’s a good course, but it would be so much better if it was firmer. There are actually a few holes where you could run the ball in if the turf wasn’t so soft.”
Baltusrol received two inches of rainfall on Monday during a storm that prompted flash flood warnings and downed power supplies across New York City. The course is expected to dry out over the course of the championship, with temperatures averaging in the low 80s, but morning thunderstorms are expected again Friday.
Still, Fraser laments his forced choice to play long irons almost exclusively this week.
“It’s a shame as the course was actually starting to dry out. It was playing better then,” Fraser said. “But now it is just so soft there is only one way to play. It isn’t overly tight off the tee. But there is so much rough. It’s especially one-dimensional around the greens. There is only one chip-shot to learn. There’s just no variety.”
Fraser will tee it up with Victor Dubuisson and James Hahn in the first two rounds.