FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (Reuters) – Mike Lorenzo-Vera may not have much PGA Championship experience but the Frenchman knows full well the challenge that awaits after putting himself in contention on Thursday and will turn to a psychologist for help.
The charismatic Frenchman, known for his sharp short game, quick wit and fine moustache, carded a two-under-par 68 that left him five shots behind first-round clubhouse leader Brooks Koepka and perhaps set him up for some sleepless nights.
“It’s going to be very difficult. If I continue playing like that, I’m going to sleep less and less, shake more and more,” Lorenzo-Vera told reporters.
“I know what’s waiting me the few days coming. First of all, I’m going to have a good rest, speak to my psychologist, I guess, and then here we go.”
Lorenzo-Vera, who finished in a share of 65th place in his PGA Championship debut last year, came into the week with confidence after finishing tied for second at the Qatar Masters and earning a share of fifth at the China Open.
But few could have expected the 34-year-old to be near the top of the leaderboard after playing 18 holes on a gargantuan Bethpage Black layout where soft conditions made distance off the tee even more important than usual.
Lorenzo-Vera made an ideal start with a birdie at the par-four first, where he drained a 13-foot putt before mixing three birdies, including two over his closing three holes, with two bogeys.
Lorenzo-Vera explained his approach to the challenging layout.
“The tee, if you don’t catch the fairway, bye-bye,” said Lorenzo-Vera.
“So I try to camp as much fairway as you can, and then just don’t try to get too crazy when you’re in the rough, just take your wedge out and do par, or if you manage to do a great shot and do bogey, just don’t put yourself in double-bogey.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)