Recovery to play huge role as hot, humid conditions hit BMW Championship
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Written by Ben Everill @BEverillGolfbet
OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Justin Thomas was already salivating over the prospect of an ice bath. Cameron Smith was craving a cold shower and an even colder beer. Sam Burns went for a nap and Patrick Cantlay was making sure his fluid intake was as high as humanly possible.
It wasn’t the hottest PGA TOUR event on record at the BMW Championship but with the elevation changes at Caves Valley coupled with the mercury pushing 90 degrees all day and the humidity making it feel like triple figures, it certainly was a grind.
With the race for the FedExCup heating up as much as the conditions players found themselves very focused on recovery between rounds. Those with the ultimate prize and $15million bonus in their sites know they must navigate seven more rounds while staying as fresh as possible.
Co-leader Jon Rahm was looking at the bright side of his COVID enforced break from the recent Olympics after an 8-under 64 projected him to the top of the FedExCup standings.
“Luckily, I had a month off, so it helps. Those guys that went to the Olympics and played Memphis and played more events than me may be a little bit more tired, but really that shouldn't be an excuse in my case,” Rahm said.
“On Tuesday when I came to the course I didn't do too much. I didn't even venture out on the golf course because I knew it was a tough walk. I just hit some balls, a little bit of putting and chipping and went home.
“On days like that what I really prioritize is hydration. If you get dehydrated in the middle, it's going to affect you over the next few weeks.”
Water was on Xander Schauffele’s mind as well and he was throwing them back in the early stages of his 5-under 67. Of course the side effect of this was nature calling and when he stopped for relief after the 10th hole, he accidentally left his putter leaning up against the outside of the port-a-john.
It wasn’t until after his wedge shot on the 11th hole that the recent gold medalist and caddie Austin Kaiser realized the mistake with Kaiser sent on a sprint back up the hill some 300-yards to retrieve it. Kaiser needed a couple extra hydration beverages afterwards.
“Yeah, that's my fault. I thought he grabbed it, which is my fault, and then I didn't look, which is my fault again, so I had like a triple whammy there. And then he had to run back, and then I missed the putt after, so it was really not a good hole for me,” Schauffele laughed.
“It was nice that the crowd got him going coming in because he was huffing and puffing.”
Smith, the runner up at THE NORTHERN TRUST last week, said he was mindful of his walking pace throughout his 4-under 68. Already certain to start the TOUR Championship in a high seed Smith is looking to balance his energy through this week and next.
“We were probably walking a bit slower than what we typically do and trying to find shade a lot… it was brutal out there today,” the Australian said. “Those last probably four or five holes, it gets to you and you start thinking, when is this going to end. You've just got to be smart about it.
“I’m from Queensland where it gets hot, so it doesn't really bother me, it just takes a lot out of me. So now I’m looking forward to a quick massage, then cold shower and a couple cold beers.”
Despite the sunny conditions the PGA TOUR utilized preferred lies in the opening round thanks to remnants of Tropical Storm Henri that have kept the fairways soggy underneath. With temperatures to continue to soar through the final three days, but also the chance of thunderstorms, that could continue throughout.
“Based on the remnants of Hurricane Henri that brought 2-3 inches of rain to Caves Valley Golf Club over the weekend, combined with extreme heat, high dew point and humidity, the PGA TOUR Competitions Committee has granted players the ability to utilize preferred lies in closely-mown areas for Round 1 of the BMW Championship,” Chief Referee Steve Rintoul said earlier in the day.
“Unfortunately, the conditions we’ve been dealt, along with no wind to speak of, has slowed the drying of the golf course. In some instances, players will be dealing with some extreme mud adhering to the golf ball that will affect its flight in unpredictable ways. THE PGA TOUR has a philosophy in place for using preferred lies for two reasons, one is temporary water and the second is for this exact situation which will allow us to deliver a more-even playing field.”