Shawn Warren’s experience this week at the PGA Championship has been almost everything he hoped for.

Except for Thursday’s first round.

“I’m here to play a tournament and I’m disappointed with my results,” he said after shooting a 7-over par 77 at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis. The score left him in 151st place among 156 golfers.

Warren, the 33-year-old club pro at the Falmouth Country Club, struggled on the back nine with five bogeys, including three of the final five holes.

He had one birdie, on a 610-yard par-5 eighth hole, which brought him to 2 over. But he couldn’t sustain that momentum.

“I’m very disappointed in the fact that my score wasn’t where I thought I should have been,” said Warren. “Overall, as far as I assess my game, it starts with getting the ball in the fairway. If you don’t, this is a difficult golf course.

“I hit a lot of good drives but I just wasn’t able to find the fairway. I hit just four of 14 fairways, that puts you behind the 8-ball right away.”

Warren, who lives in Portland, will tee off in the second round with J.J. Spaun (1-under 69) and Mikko Korhonen (2-under 68) of Finland at 3:27 p.m. Friday.

Warren said the warm weather conditions – it was 95 degrees during his round – and the adrenaline of playing in a major tournament may have contributed to the ball traveling farther than he expected.

“The ball was just going a lot longer than I saw it going,” he said. “I hit quality golf shots and got nothing back … It wasn’t as far off as maybe the score shows. But at the end of the day the only thing that really matters is what you shot.”

Warren had a driving accuracy of just 28.5 percent and hit just 22.2 percent of the greens in regulation.

His partners were much more effective.

Korhonen had a driving accuracy of 78.5 percent and hit 83.3 percent of his greens in regulation. Spaun’s driving accuracy was 92.8 percent and he also hit 83.3 percent of the greens in regulation.

“They were both pretty clean, got the ball in the fairway and just played pretty solid golf,” said Warren. “They hit a lot of greens, a lot of fairways. Nothing overly aggressive, just smart, solid golf. And their scores reflected that.”

Warren said he certainly learned something from them but needs to be aggressive.

“I’ll continue my game plan, be aggressive off the tee,” he said. “But I’ve got to hit more fairways. … Once you’re in the fairway, you have some scoring opportunities there. If you’re off, you can find yourself in difficult situations. I’ve got to stick to what I’m doing but take into account the ball is going a lot longer than maybe I anticipated.”

Warren also had some tough luck on the greens. A couple of his putts to save par came up short by an inch of so, and a couple of others lipped out.

“But if you’re struggling and grinding it out to make pars, you’re going to miss some,” he said. “Today was just one of those days when I was a little bit off and there’s no forgiveness out there, especially off the tee.”

Warren, a 2003 graduate of Windham High, was making his first appearance in a PGA event. He’s the third Maine club pro to play in the PGA Championship, joining Tim Angis (1993) and John Hickson (1997).

“It’s been a great experience and it makes you want to come back here more,” he said. “Any time you do something for the first time, you learn from it. I have learned a lot today and this week. And I think I need to take what I’ve learned here and apply it going forward.

“At the end of the day, I’m not coming here for a good experience and to learn. So I’m disappointed in the results. I want to come out with a solid round (Friday) and see where it goes.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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