In cool, wet conditions, Bethpage Black will play tough, long for PGA Championship
When it was announced that the PGA Championship was moving from August to May, some pundits and fans balked at the idea of holding a major championship in the Northeast or upper Midwest because of days like Monday at Bethpage State Park.
After about an inch of rain fell on the Black Course on Sunday, scattered showers and chilly temperatures persisted as a Nor’easter developed off the coast of southern New England, bringing showers and a chilly eastern wind that kept temperatures in the high 40s.
It could have been worse: the same system is expected to bring several inches of snow to higher elevations of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine on Monday.
Bethpage Black’s scorecard yardage is 7,459 yards, but in conditions like Monday’s, it played even longer.
“Hole seven is playing as a par 4 and we played from where the 520 tee is. I hit a really good drive and I still had 255 to 260 yards to the center of the green,” said Billy Horschel, who is currently ranked No. 43 on the Official World Golf Ranking. “And that distance doesn’t even account for the wind and the cold weather, so that shot was probably playing 280 or 290.”
Horschel added that he typically hits his 7-iron 180 yards, but on the second hole on Monday morning, he hit one that only went 150.
The official tournament forecast calls for the rain to subside early Tuesday morning, with clouds and warmer conditions expected on Wednesday. There is a 30 percent chance of rain on Thursday morning, but temperatures are expected to rise into the mid- and high 60s on Saturday and Sunday.
The 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens were contested here on wet golf courses, and it looks like the first PGA Championship that Bethpage Black will host is also going to be played on a soft, long course.