The AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio is annually one of the most difficult non-major tracks on the PGA Tour. Throw in some winds in excess of 20 miles per hour, and the course becomes tough enough to humble nearly every player that dares to challenge it.
The early leaderboard at the Valero Texas Open seemed better suited for venues like Winged Foot or Shinnecock Hills, with par more like a pipe dream than a realistic target. Blustery winds routinely blew approach shots off target, and work around the greens was made all the more difficult by gusts that reached as high as 36 miles per hour.
Despite one of the strongest fields in recent tournament history, the opening-round scores were sheer carnage: 23 players from Thursday's morning wave failed to break 80, including reigning U.S. Open champ Martin Kaymer. His 10-over 82, which included a pair of triple bogeys, was his highest score in 279 career rounds on Tour.
Kaymer was hardly alone, though. His 82 was equaled by Geoff Ogilvy and Scott Stallings, who carded three birdies but was undone by an 11 on the par-5 eighth hole. D.A. Points shot an 86 after playing his first four holes in 9 over, while Johnson Wagner needed one more stroke to complete his round, turning in a 15-over 87. Top-ranked junior golfer Sam Burns earned a spot in this week's field by winning last year's Junior PGA Championship, but Burns shot an 89 in his first round against the pros.
Even players who entered the week with plenty of momentum faltered. Dustin Johnson and Matt Every, both winners on Tour earlier this month, carded matching rounds of 6-over 78, a score that Johnson called "terrible."
"But I'm still not out of the mix," he added, accurately assessing just how unpredictable things have gotten in the Lone Star State.
The scoring average from the morning wave was 78.61 on the par-72 track, a figure that would have been even higher were it not for a series of mid-round withdrawals. First it was Sangmoon Bae, who pulled out because of a back injury after playing seven holes in 6 over. Bae was quickly followed by Graeme McDowell, who withdrew because of a lower leg injury. McDowell had played nine holes in 5 over. Colt Knost then became the third to make an early exit, citing a thumb injury after playing eight holes in 9 over.
No one from the early wave broke par, with the best scores a pair of even-par 72s turned in by Matt Kuchar and Cameron Percy. Percy was a late addition to the field when Mike Weir withdrew prior to his opening-round tee time.
With strong winds expected to continue throughout the opening round, Thursday's scores were on pace to become the highest average since the second round of the 2007 U.S. Open, when the field averaged nearly seven shots over par at Oakmont.