CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Long Island club pro Matt Dobyns got the gallery excited a few times, such as when he hit his tee shot within three feet of the hole on the par-3 13th hole and hit the green from a fairway bunker 180 yards away on the par-4 18th hole. He was gratified, except he insisted that his day could have been much better.
The head pro at Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success did regain his footing after shooting 4 over par through the first four holes, going 1 over the rest of the way. Still, he went directly to the Quail Hollow practice green after his 5-over-par 76 on Thursday in the first round of the PGA Championship.
Like many of the top tour pros, he found that the surprisingly fast greens did not yield many birdies (he made only one). “It was frustrating because I felt 5 over could have been 1 or 2 over, very easily. With a little luck, it could have been even par,” he said. “I’m encouraged in the sense that I can do it, but it’s hard. Now I’m sort of behind the 8-ball.
“I had 38 putts today. Darrell will kill me for doing that,” Dobyns said, referring to Darrell Kestner, his former boss at Deepdale Golf Club and a putting guru. “When I text him and tell him I had 38 putts, he’s going to text back, ‘You should have shot 66. You’d be leading the tournament.’ ”
Joost Luiten of the Netherlands made a hole-in-one on the newly constructed par-3 fourth hole, with a 6-iron from 181 yards. It was the first ace in the PGA Championship since Tim Clark in 2013 . . . Phil Mickelson began his 100th career major with a round he will not want to remember. He made eight bogeys and no birdies in shooting 79. Ernie Els, in his 100th major, was worse. He shot 80 . . . Olympic swimming legend and golf nut Michael Phelps walked inside the ropes, watching Jordan Spieth in his attempt to become the youngest to complete the career Grand Slam. Spieth described Phelps as “a good friend and mentor” who works with him on motivation and preparation.