KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Carl Pettersson might have a special request for the PGA Tour: Play all of its tournaments in South Carolina.
Pettersson, who won at Harbour Town earlier this year, shrugged off the intense heat at Kiawah Island on Thursday morning to fire a 6-under 66 and take an early one-shot lead at the “gettable” Ocean Course.
“It was important to shoot a good one today,” said Pettersson, referring to the unexpected benign conditions at the 7,676-yard layout. “I didn’t quite see a 66 out there, but it was important to shoot under par today for sure.”
Pettersson put the course on notice out of the gate, picking up birdies at Nos. 1, 2 and 4 to move to the top of the leaderboard. He’d add birdies at Nos. 7, 10 and 16, while picking up no bogeys – maybe the more impressive fete considering the course’s length, regardless of condition.
“Obviously getting off to a good start was the key to the round,” said Pettersson, who hit 12 of 14 fairways, 15 of 18 greens and used 28 putts to post his lowest career round in the PGA Championship.
“There really wasn’t much wind on the front nine, so I knew I had to keep going low because I figured the wind would get up.”
Pettersson is another player that employs the long putter. Both Ernie Els (Open Championship) and Webb Simpson (U.S. Open) won majors this season with it, and now the R&A and USGA will meet to talk about banning “anchoring.”
Pettersson doesn’t understand why.
“I don’t see why they should change it. I don’t like the way they say it’s easier to putt with a long putter, an anchored putter,” said Pettersson. “It isn’t easier. If it was easier everybody on Tour would use a long putter or belly putter. You have to develop a stroke with the long putter just like you do with the short putter.
“There’s no guarantees of making it easier.”