TULSA, Okla. — There was no Southern charm to Southern Hills for the world’s No. 1 player.
Scottie Scheffler was scrambling all day in the first round of the PGA Championship, finding bunkers or water, and landing behind trees. One par putt lipped out, then he had to take a penalty stroke after driving into a hazard off the 18th tee.
By the time it was over, the Masters winner and this season’s most dominant player finished with a 1-over-par 71. It was his first round over par in two months and left him six shots adrift of leader Rory McIlroy.
And he wasn’t the only one struggling. World No. 2 Jon Rahm had an even more miserable day at 3-over on a course that put the best in the game to the test.
Still, Scheffler was fairly upbeat after the round. He knows it could have been much worse. A par-saving put from 16 feet on the final hole after a wet tee shot took some of the pressure off.
“It’s going to make my dinner taste a little bit better,” Scheffler said.
That’s if he can get the salty taste of the afternoon sweat out of his mouth.
McIlroy posted his leading score after a morning start that avoided some of the worst heat and wind of the day on refurbished Southern Hills course that has hosted eight major tournaments. By the time Scheffler started, the course was baking in a heat index that pushed 90 degrees and felt every bit of it in the hot blasts of wind.
But Scheffler didn’t complain about the conditions or the course. Tough conditions are to be expected, and he’ll get his chance to rebound with an early start Friday.
“It was very fair. Definitely no gripes with the setup. The course is very challenging,” he said.
Rahm likely isn’t so optimistic about the weekend. His miserable day started with a bogey on the first hole. Others struggled, too.
World No. 3 Collin Morikawa shot a 72. And Jordan Spieth, who is chasing the career grand slam, played with McIlroy and had to watch the Northern Irishman charge to the top while he faded to a 2-over 72 with three bogeys in the final four holes.
Scheffler will take aim at what he can do Friday to recover. Get to the weekend and see what happens.
“I guess I’m six back now, so six shots over three days really isn’t that big of a deal,” Scheffler said. “I’m definitely a lot further back than I had hoped to be. This is one of those golf courses where you could have a really great round.”
Always colorful, never boring.
Shaggy John Daly produced yet another wild ride around a PGA Championship.
The 56-year-old two-time major champion, whose booming drives propelled him to win the PGA in 1991, drove the slopes and swales of Southern Hills in a golf cart the PGA allows him to use because of osteoarthritis in his right knee.
And first off the tee in the cool of morning, he quickly birdied the first hole. The came another on No. 5.
Nostalgia was in the air. Daly was on the leaderboard much of the round as he was greeted with cheers of “Go Big John” from a fan gallery that still loves his eccentric style, shock of thick white hair, bushy beard and a belly that hides his belt buckle.
Then came the late-round meltdown in the rising heat: four bogeys in the final five holes, including three in a row on Nos. 16-18. By the end, Daly’s 2-over-par 72 left him in no mood to talk and he skipped post-round interviews.
At least his cart didn’t cause him any problems. At the 2021 PGA Championship on Kiawah Island, Daly needed fans to help him get out of some sand when he got stuck. His biggest obstacles in Tulsa were a couple of water hazards he could drive around by going under the ropes and briefly into the gallery.
And he signed his scorecard. Daly was disqualified from the PGA Tour Champions Regions Tradition last week after failing to do that after the second round.
Maine pro Shawn Warren off to slow start
Shawn Warren’s first visit to Oklahoma is off to a rocky start.
The Falmouth, Maine, golfer is one of 20 club professionals from around the country to qualify for the 2022 PGA Championship. In his opening round, he finished 8-over, starting out with three straight bogeys on the front nine and finishing with three more on his final three holes.
“I struggled,” he said afterward. “It’s a tough golf course, and if you’re just a little bit off, there’s nothing good that comes out of it. It was a struggle today, but fortunately, we have tomorrow.”
Warren, a teaching pro at Falmouth Country Club, is the only New Englander playing in this year’s championship. It’s his third PGA Championship — he didn’t make the cut in 2018 at Bellerive in St. Louis or in 2020, during the pandemic-altered tournament at Harding Park in San Francisco.
It’s possible that Friday could play out a lot like those previous two appearances. Warren, for the third straight time, finished at least seven shots over par in the opening round.
In 2018, he settled in to finish 1 over in the second round, and in 2020, 3 over. He said it was something he was thinking about while navigating the Tulsa wind on Thursday.
“I don’t know if it’s kind of just getting more comfortable out there or what it is,” he said. “If I knew what it was, I would love to change it. It’s not that my game is in bad form or I was hitting a lot of bad shots, it’s just slightly off, and normally in the second round, it’s just a little better.”
Even if Warren does shoot closer to par on Friday, he’s unlikely to make the cut. But his journey through golf’s majors this year might not end so soon: On June 6, he’ll play in one of the 11 sectional qualifiers being held around the United States, with the winners earning a spot in the 122nd US Open at The Country Club in Brookline.
Katie McInerney of the Globe staff contributed to this report from Tulsa, Okla.