Wind wreaks havoc on opening round of PGA event

October 18, 2018

SEOGWIPO, South Korea, Oct. 18 (Yonhap) — Mother Nature was on many players’ minds as they prepared for the PGA Tour’s CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges here on the southern island of Jeju. Players’ concerns built to a point where all they could talk about was how hard the wind was going to blow and how it could affect their play.

And during the opening round on Thursday, the wind lived up to those jittery expectations, topping out at a speed of 12 meters per second (m/s) while blowing in from all directions. It left even some of the game’s top players searching for answers.

Defending champion Justin Thomas struggled to a 73 in a round that included a double bogey at the par-4 fourth. Thomas found just four fairways off the tee.

Brooks Koepka of the United States hits his second shot at the 10th hole during the first round of the PGA Tour's CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges at the Club at Nine Bridges in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, on Oct. 18, 2018. (Yonhap)

Brooks Koepka of the United States hits his second shot at the 10th hole during the first round of the PGA Tour’s CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges at the Club at Nine Bridges in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, on Oct. 18, 2018. (Yonhap)

It wasn’t just the drives that took the blow. On that disastrous fourth hole, Thomas four-putted from about 30 feet.

Korean PGA Tour player Mun Do-yeob was near the top of the leader board but finished with a bogey and a double bogey, with back-to-back three-putts.

He blamed it all on the wind.

“I was trying to be careful with my putting when the wind was blowing in from behind, but the ball still rolled hard,” Mun said. “I was solid with my shots otherwise.”

But those who navigated their way through the gusts reached the top of the leader board.

Chez Reavie of the United States shot a four-under 68 while making only one bogey to take sole possession of the lead.

“The wind was blowing really hard all day long so you had to really start the ball well and keep it out of the wind,” he said. “Luckily, I was able to do that and had good distances in the fairways and hit the ball close today.”

At the ninth and 18th holes, both par-5s, Reavie walked away with pars while several others had bogeys or worse. The American said he didn’t want to risk dropping shots.

“I hit the fairways on both holes and could have reached the green in two, but I laid up,” he said. “I played it safe and hit a little wedge shot to the green. The key was not to be overaggressive on a tough day.”

England’s Danny Willett was tied with South Korean Kim Si-woo at three-under 69. Willett said it helped to have played at the British Masters in similarly windy conditions just last week.

“You’ve got it in your head that it’s going to be relatively difficult. From the onset, you know you’ve got to stay patient and try to hit a lot of good shots and see if you can get some birdie putts,” Willett said. “You don’t want to be grinding out for pars all day because that’s going to be taxing.”

Reavie also said it was important to “pick your spots” on a day like this and “take your par and move on” at certain holes.

 

 

In this AFP photo, Danny Willett of England tees off at the first hole during the first round of the PGA Tour's CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges at the Club at Nine Bridges in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, on Oct. 18, 2018. (Yonhap)

In this AFP photo, Danny Willett of England tees off at the first hole during the first round of the PGA Tour’s CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges at the Club at Nine Bridges in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, on Oct. 18, 2018. (Yonhap)

 

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