Local golf pro Nick Taylor is about to compete in his first PGA Championship.
Calling from Kohler, Wisc., where the major is being held, Taylor told The News he is looking forward to facing the course at Whistling Straits, in what he labelled as one of the biggest tournaments of his pro career.
“I’m excited for my first major of the year,” said Taylor. “I’ve felt good the last few weeks.”
Taylor has made the cut in the previous two tournaments he’s competed in, the RBC Canadian Open and Quicken Loans National, finishing the event tied for 56th and 52nd, respectively.
The golfer has earned about $1.035 million on the tour this year, and won his first PGA event, the Sanderson Farms Championship in November. That victory gave him an exemption into this year’s PGA Championship.
The last major Taylor played was the U.S. Open in 2009 where he finished tied for 36th — good for low amateur of the tournament.
Taylor said the course at Whistling Straits is long. At 7,790 total yards, with a par of 72, the estimated walking distance through 18 holes is approximately five miles or about eight kilometres.
The links-style course overlooks Lake Michigan — eight holes hug the shoreline — and contains a number of sandy areas, not to mention a terrain that is windswept and rugged.
“If you’re not hitting straight, you’re not going to do well,” he said.
The PGA stated, “All areas of the course that were designed and built as bunkers, filled with sand, will be played as bunkers (hazards) whether or not they have been raked.”
No free relief — moving the ball away from an immovable obstruction, without a penalty — will be available, whether or not the bunkers are located inside or outside the ropes. This means players will be forced to play through the footprints, trash and tire tracks that may occur during play.
Taylor said the Pete Dye-designed course is certainly unique, but he intends to go into the tournament like any other.
Despite some jet lag, Taylor set out on nine holes of practice on the course Monday, and followed that up with a full 18 holes Tuesday.
The PGA Championship runs from August 13 to 16. For tee-off times and more, go to pga.com/pgachampionship.