The wind, Oak Tree's major defense, was absent from the first round of the PGA Championship, allowing Bob Gilder to unleash a record-setting assault on the course.
Oak Tree was feared by the players as a sleeping monster which needed only a steady wind to awake. But the wind was calm Thursday and the players, dropping iron shots onto the soft greens tight to the pin, responded with a PGA Championship record-tying 31 scores under par. Another 12 players were even par 71.Gilder led the 150-man field with a 5-under 66 - a "real steady" round without a bogey - for a course record.
One shot back at 67 were Paul Azinger, who almost missed the tournament because of a back problem; John Cook, who was under par from the first hole; Nick Faldo, who was 4-under on the backside; and Chip Beck, second on the money list this year.
Another stroke back were Raymond Floyd, Rocco Mediate, Greg Norman, Provo's Mike Reid, Peter Senior, Craig Stadler and club pro Jay Overton.
The field will be cut to the low 70 scores after Friday's second round. The tournament will conclude Sunday.
The course, which looks treacherous from every angle, played as safe as a schoolyard for Thursday's first round. "The golf course is in excellent shape and that makes for some darn good scores," Gilder said.
"On this course, if you are playing well, you're going to score well," said Stadler. "It's not an easy golf course, but with the green soft, and no wind, there's a lot of birdie chances."
Gilder posted back-to-back birdies on Nos. 7 and 8 and pushed his score even lower with birdies on 14 and 16.
"I played real steady and drove the ball real well," he said. "That's the big difference on this course."
Gilder said he "had only two chances for bogey" and saved both of those with excellent chip shots.
The players credited the greens - kept soft because of a downpour Tuesday and the usual blast of August Oklahoma heat forcing even more watering - with keeping the scores low.
"It's a shotmaker's test of golf this week," Faldo said. "It's a tough golf course and the only thing that is saving us is the fact that it's so soft. If the greens were hard, you couldn't play here."
The first round was highlighted by Gene Sauer's hole-in-one on the 171-yard eighth hole. Other eagles were turned in by Tommy Nakajima, who chipped in from 100 yards on No. 3, and Floyd and David Graham, who had threes on No. 16.
Defending champion Larry Nelson was among a crowd at 70 as were Ben Crenshaw and Payne Stewart. Seve Ballesteros finished at 71, one stroke ahead of a mob that included Curtis Strange and the threesome of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tom Kite. Arnold Palmer shot a 74.
The "Oak Tree Boys" - the professionals who play out of Edmond's country club - were thought to have an advantage with their knowledge of the course's intricacies, but just one, Doug Tewell at 1-under, broke par. David Edwards, Andrew Magee and Bob Tway were all even-par 71 while Gil Morgan shot 76 and Scott Verplank, who won a tournament two weeks ago, had a 77.