PITTSFORD, N.Y. – It’s been 10 years since Brian Gay tied for 51st the last time the PGA Championship was played at Oak Hill, but as he made his way to the 10th tee late Monday afternoon for a practice round, the upstate layout seemed pretty much the way he left it.
“The rough is bad, but I remember it being bad then (2003). I remember it being hard,” Gay said. “If I remember right I think it played really fast until Friday night and then it rained. What was the cut? The cut was high, wasn’t it?”
Eight over made it to the weekend in ’03, matching Oakland Hills (2008) as the highest 36-hole mark in the last 20 years.
The early word around Oak Hill is that it will be a similar story this year, although recent rains have softened the Donald Ross design and PGA of America setup man Kerry Haigh has adopted a page from U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis’ book and has graduated the height of the rough.
“The rough is very thick around the greens,” Henrik Stenson said. “In some places when you fertilize it in a short period of time the roots come up when you hit. It gives way and it’s difficult to pitch against that.”
Of course, everything in golf is relative.
“After Merion (site of June’s U.S. Open) you look at this rough and think, ‘That’s manageable,’” said Geoff Ogilvy’s swing coach Dale Lynch. “You can play out of the rough here.”