During the practice rounds this week at TPC Summerlin, the talk among the players was that with the higher and longer rough, the course was going to play much tougher than in years past, and scores were going to go up by at least a couple of strokes.
Judging by the scores during Thursday’s opening round of the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, it appears it was business as usual — a sea of red on the scoreboard as the pros were going well below par.
Of the 66 players who teed off in the early grouping between 7 and 8:35 a.m. Thursday, only seven failed to break par, which is 71. Overall, 112 of the 132 players in the field shot par or lower.
William McGirt, the co-leader at 8-under-par 63 after the first round, said the course conditions were no problem.
"The rough isn’t that bad," he said. "When I missed fairways, I was in the first cut, and I couldn’t have asked for a better lie. And the greens were a lot firmer and faster than when I played out here last week."
No one had much to complain about as far as the quality of the conditions Thursday other than the heat. Temperatures were in the upper 90s from 11 a.m. through the end of play at 6 p.m.
"I didn’t think it was playing long," said Rod Pampling, who posted a 6-under 65 playing in the morning grouping. "It was decent."
Henderson’s Nick Watney, who also began his tournament with a 65, said of the course: "The greens are perfect. We were the first group out, so we got really fresh lines. And if you hit it on line, it’s going in. So the greens are very good."
The heat was another story. Players and their caddies struggled to stay hydrated, particularly the afternoon groups. Officials were paying close attention to Robert Garrigus, who played Thursday morning after having spent the first part of the week in a Phoenix hospital for heat stroke and dehydration. However, the 33-year-old Garrigus showed no signs of fatigue, posting a 65.
"I felt like I was having heart palpitations," said Garrigus, who had taken ill in Phoenix while caddying for a friend trying to gain a spot in the tour’s qualifying school. "I was tired. I was lightheaded. I had a lot of gas. I felt terrible.
"But they pumped me full of enough fluids to where I could get back out here."
Garrigus was released Wednesday and then traveled to Las Vegas. Because of his medical condition, the PGA Tour allowed him to skip Wednesday’s pro-am.
"They usually don’t do that, so I have to thank them for that," Garrigus said.
■ NOTES — It wasn’t a great day for former UNLV star Bill Lunde, who came in at 1-under 70. The highlight to Lunde’s day might have been at the par-5 No. 16, where he made birdie after just missing a long eagle putt. The 16th is the designated hole for the $1 million Kodak Challenge, a seasonlong cumulative competition that Lunde led going into this week and has four events remaining. … Lunde, one of six UNLV alums competing at TPC Summerlin, was the only one to break par Thursday. Chris Riley, Charley Hoffman and Chad Campbell all came in at 71, and Ryan Moore and Andres Gonzales each shot 72. All have a lot of work to do if they hope to play Saturday, as today’s projected cut is at 2 under.