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Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett

29 Jun 2023 Updated.

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PGA Championship: Eric Cole Takes Early Lead, Jon Rahm Struggles in First Round

In a frost-delayed first round at the PGA Championship, Eric Cole, an American golfer ranked 122nd in the world, made an exceptional start and claimed the lead at Oak Hill Country Club.

Cole recorded six birdies in just 14 holes before play was suspended due to darkness, leaving 11 groups yet to finish their rounds.

The tournament was delayed by an hour and 50 minutes due to frost in Rochester, New York. Cole holds a one-stroke advantage over his compatriot Bryson DeChambeau, who also performed well with a four-under 66.

Eric Cole, who turned pro in 2009, mainly played on the Korn Ferry Tour before earning his PGA Tour card for the 2023 season. Despite losing in a playoff to Chris Kirk at The Honda Classic in March.

Cole is now enjoying a strong presence on the leaderboard in his PGA Championship debut and second major appearance.

Speaking to reporters, Cole expressed his excitement about being in a competitive position. And his desire to see his name among the top contenders more often.

Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion, finished the first round at four-under par. It is trailed by three golfers, including Dustin Johnson and Corey Conners. Johnson, a two-time major winner, had an opportunity to tie DeChambeau for second place.

But dropped back with a double bogey on the final hole. Scottie Scheffler, ranked No. 2 in the world, also ended the round at three-under par, along with Johnson and Conners.

The anticipated showdown between Scheffler and Jon Rahm, who has had an impressive 2023 season, did not materialize as Rahm struggled with six bogeys and a double bogey, finishing at six-over 76.

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Eric Cole Takes Early Lead At PGA Championship, Jon Rahm Struggles

PGA Championship

The current world No. 1, Jon Rahm, is aiming to become the fourth golfer. The first since Jack Nicklaus in 1975, to win both the Masters and the PGA Championship in the same season.

However, his challenging start puts him 11 shots behind the leader, Eric Cole.

Jordan Spieth, a three-time major champion, opened with a three-over 69 and needs a strong performance to achieve golfing immortality by winning the PGA Championship and completing the Grand Slam.

Rory McIlroy, a four-time major champion, and Collin Morikawa, a two-time major champion, finished the round at one-over par.

Defending champion Justin Thomas and two-time PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka are one stroke further behind.

Bryson DeChambeau, known for his powerful driving, pursued an approach to increase his distance off the tee, gaining 40 pounds during the Covid-19 pandemic. This strategy paid off with his US Open victory and several top-10 finishes.

However, injuries and surgeries led to a decline in his performance, and he has not won a tournament in over two years.

DeChambeau made significant dietary changes after discovering allergies to corn, wheat, gluten, and dairy. This resulted in a considerable weight loss, primarily water weight, of up to 18 pounds in 24 days.

Despite the challenges, DeChambeau remains satisfied with his current physical condition and aims for stability rather than further drastic changes.

The second round of the PGA Championship is scheduled to start at 7 a.m ET (12 p.m BST) on Friday. Stay updated with the latest news and developments from the tournament.

PGA Championship: Eric Cole Takes Early Lead, Jon Rahm Struggles in First Round