US PGA Championship: Field guide to the course, Xander Schauffele says: “Southern Hills is no joke”

We sift through the best and most incisive quotes from the players about the host of the second Major Championship of 2022.

It is now 15 years since Southern Hills Country Club last hosted a Major Championship and in the intervening years it has undergone plenty of renovations and changes.

Quite how the course will play this week has been a key question ahead of Thursday's first round.

"Reminds me a lot of Colonial," said Jordan Spieth, referencing another layout designed by Perry Maxwell, adding: "Just a little bit on steroids, with a little more undulation and driver in your hands more."

For World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler the visuals attract.

"It's one of those places where you get on the tee box, you look at the hole and are like, 'Man, this is a really cool hole'," he gushed. "And then you get to No. 2, and you're like, 'Man, this is a really cool hole' and it just keeps going."

Xander Schauffele was rather more straightforward, saying: "Southern Hills is no joke."

The standard thought at the start of the week was that it will be a tough test, and that approach work and short game will be brutally examined.

The following quotes from the pre-tournament press conferences back that up, but note the thoughts about driving and finding fairways.

Some players are making the point that, with approaches being so important, it will be imperative to hit them from the short grass.

True, we hear this sort of thing every Major, but it's an interesting alternate angle on this week's conventional wisdom.

Scoring

Xander Schauffele: "It's tough. It's going to be really hard. I think PGA Championships for the most part, people feel like you can kind of shoot lower in them than most majors. But I think this year is going to be a different story."

Shane Lowry: "I'm still trying to figure out what's a good score around here."

Spieth: "When the wind picks up, par is going to be a great score because you're going to have a lot of the shots around the green."

The mental game

Schauffele: "They're going to be long rounds, not just because of hitting over other greens and waiting, stuff like that. It's going to be long just because you have to really think. You have to be smart. It's going to take a lot of patience and a lot of good quality shots just to kind of shoot around par."

From the tee

Lowry: "Standing on the tee box, you think it's quite generous, and then you get down to your second shots and around the greens and that's where it gets tricky."

Henrik Stenson: "It's fairly long, at least certainly some of the holes are pretty long."

Brooks Koepka: "It's not driver every hole. I don't think the course is overly long, but it's definitely tough. You've got to hit fairways out here."

Patrick Cantlay: "I think it's really important to drive the golf ball in the fairway, like most major championships. The fairways are extremely wide this week, so being able to leave your golf ball in the fairway, it's a lot of drivers. So that's the only way you can really give yourself some chances around this golf course, especially with the small green complexes the way they are."

Hideki Matsuyama: "You have to keep the ball in the fairway, especially on the proper side of the fairway, and greens are very undulated. And so placement is going to be very important this week."

Approach shots

Schauffele: "Sometimes hitting it to 50 feet is a good shot."

Lowry: "The guy who wins this week is going to hit 13, 14 greens a day, and he's going to miss four greens and he's probably going to get up-and-down a lot of the time. That's what you're going to need to do."

Cameron Smith: "The fairways are quite generous, but if you miss a fairway, it can be quite penal. The rough, the ball is coming out super hot, and I think the greens throughout the week will really firm up."

Around the greens

Schauffele: "You can do the whole chip up, chip down, chip over, chip back off the front of the green-type deal out here, especially with winds blowing 20 to 30 miles an hour which is what's forecasted."

Justin Thomas: "The big fall-offs and run-offs from the greens, and the Bermuda grass, makes it very difficult to chip. So it puts a premium on having different techniques and different styles around the greens."

Rory McIlroy: "One of the things I love is the way they've cut the run-offs. It's very hard to putt from off the greens. They're trying to get wedge in hand which I really like. It's forcing you to chip instead like at Pinehurst in 2014 when you could putt from everywhere. This is actually forcing you to get a wedge in your hand, which is really good. I like that."

On the greens

Stenson: "The slopiness of the greens is going to make the putting quite tricky, (similar to) Augusta you're going to have very quick downhill putts and, once you turn around, you've got very slow uphill putts. It's on the challenging side with the putting. It's getting the speed right and being able to cope with those differences. You could have three uphill putts three holes in a row, and all of a sudden you've got a slick downhill putt on the fourth hole."

READ MORE: How the PGA Championship triumphs of Phil Mickelson and Collin Morikawa broke with recent history

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