TULSA, Okla. — Rory McIlroy will not have to fret about back-dooring a top-5 end at a significant championship after he grabbed the first-round lead on the 104th PGA Championship at Southern Hills Nation Membership on Friday.
With 9 one-putts in his first 12 holes and 10 drives longer than 320 yards, McIlroy posted a 5-under 65 to seize the lead after the primary 18 holes. It was the fourth time in his profession that he shot 65 or higher within the opening spherical of a significant, probably the most by any participant within the Masters period (since 1934), in line with knowledge from ESPN Stats & Info.
“I have been enjoying properly coming in right here,” McIlroy stated. “I have been carrying some good kind. Clearly, I took loads from that final spherical at Augusta, performed properly up in D.C. on the Wells Fargo, and performed good within the apply rounds earlier this week.”
It is the primary time McIlroy has led after the primary spherical of a significant since his final victory in a single, the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla. Since 2000, the first-round chief has gone on to win this event 4 occasions: Tiger Woods (2000), Phil Mickelson (2005), Jimmy Walker (2016) and Brooks Koepka (2019).
There are many acquainted names inside hanging distance of McIlroy, together with Will Zalatoris (4 underneath), Justin Thomas (3 underneath), Xander Schauffele (2 underneath) and Cameron Smith (2 underneath).
Smith, who received The Gamers in March and performed within the remaining pairing on Sunday on the Masters, had seven birdies in Thursday’s first spherical (as many as McIlroy) and led the sector in strokes gained: method. Schauffele drove the ball extraordinarily properly and was probably the greatest scramblers within the subject.
Zalatoris, 25, is likely one of the greatest ball strikers on this planet and, properly, not a lot probably the greatest putters — till Thursday. Zalatoris was ranked 185th in pictures gained: placing coming into the week. However he led the sector in that class on Thursday, even with a 3-putt on No. 18. He made 150 toes of putts, his most in any PGA Tour spherical, and made 4 putts longer than 20 toes.
“Yeah, take these and run with them,” Zalatoris stated.
Zalatoris missed the reduce in final week’s AT&T Byron Nelson. It is going to be attention-grabbing to see if his putter holds up over the ultimate 54 holes, or if he merely caught lightning in a bottle on Thursday. He already has 4 top-10 finishes in six main begins.
“I assumed being the ball striker I’m, clearly it is proven within the first six or so majors of my profession, however on prime of that, I feel it is the perspective of that is what I’ve wished to realize mainly since I used to be slightly child, and it is sort of liberating in a means,” Zalatoris stated. “Clearly, it is Thursday. My thoughts is nowhere close to going to be meandering in direction of that, however that is sort of my basic perspective is you get 4 of those a 12 months, they’re particular, and I do not need to go away something to likelihood.”
Masters champion Scottie Scheffler had a rollercoaster of a gap spherical. The world No. 1 made an eagle on the 665-yard fifth gap, hitting his second shot to 10 toes from 307 yards away. However on the again 9, he hit simply three fairways and he made 4 bogeys. He additionally confirmed some audible frustration, shouting in anger at a putt on 17 when it did not break the way in which he thought it will.
On 18, Scheffler hit his drive into the creek that cuts throughout the golf green, however made a powerful, unbelievable up-and-down from 189 yards away to save lots of par. He completed with a 1-over 71. He had 11 consecutive opening rounds underneath par on tour. The final time he was over par after the primary spherical was on the Houston Open on Nov. 14, 2021.
“I imply, it is early within the week; nonetheless a variety of golf left to play,” Scheffler stated. “I assume I am 6 again now, so 6 pictures over three days actually is not that massive of a deal. I am undoubtedly loads additional again than I had hoped to be, however on the finish of the day I will most likely be in fortieth place. That is a kind of golf programs the place you possibly can have a very nice spherical, and so for me simply sort of taking what the climate goes to provide us tomorrow morning and sort of go from there.”
What can we count on from Tiger?
Woods seemed fairly good at the beginning of the opening round, with birdies on two of his first 5 holes. However Woods was 6 over after that and completed with a 4-over 74. He’ll have work to do on Friday in making an attempt to make the reduce.
Worse, Woods gave the impression to be in fairly a little bit of ache. His limp from his surgically repaired proper leg was extra noticeable on the entrance 9, his second 9 of the day.
“It has felt higher earlier than,” Woods stated. “It is slightly sore proper now, and we’ll return and begin the method of preparing for [Friday].”
Like Woods did on the Masters in April, he stated his restoration would come with a number of ice baths to attempt to get the irritation out of his proper leg. The larger query going ahead is how a lot Woods’ mobility will enhance over the subsequent few weeks and months. He has a myriad of screws, plates and pins in his proper leg and foot. His ankle won’t ever flip prefer it used to. Neither will his fused decrease backbone.
On Thursday, as McIlroy and Jordan Spieth ripped drives previous him, it was fairly clear that Woods won’t ever play golf like he as soon as did. When his enjoying companions pulled drivers out of their baggage, he usually settled for a protracted iron. Woods ranked 139th in driving distance (293.4 yards) out of a 156-player subject that included 20 PGA membership execs and previous champion Shaun Micheel.
“These guys clearly have a distinct recreation plan,” Woods stated. “It is simply completely different. The sport is performed very in a different way now, and it’s totally aggressive. We have been speaking about it at the moment, [caddy] Joey [LaCava] and I, the times of the Lee Janzens and the Scott Simpsons and the [Nick] Faldos of the world, enjoying that sort of golf is gone. You go on the market and hit driver loads, and when you have a sizzling week, you’ve gotten a sizzling week and also you’re up there.”
Who else has work to do?
There have been two acquainted sights on the PGA Championship over the previous few years: John Daly driving in a cart ingesting Weight-reduction plan Cokes and Brooks Koepka’s title someplace within the prime 5 on the leaderboard.
Koepka, who received the occasion in 2018 and 2019, was within the prime 5 on the finish of 14 of the previous 16 rounds on the PGA Championship. That wasn’t the case on Thursday, nevertheless, as Koepka shot 5-over 75 at Southern Hills. The four-time main champion bogeyed three of his first 4 holes (his rating of three over after 5 holes was his worst on the PGA Championship) and shot 5-over 40 on the entrance.
Koepka, 32, has been bothered by knee and hip accidents over the previous a number of months. He hadn’t performed since lacking the reduce on the Masters in April.
Different massive names who’ve work to do to stay round for the weekend embody: Jordan Spieth (2 over), Collin Morikawa (2 over), Hideki Matsuyama (2 over), Dustin Johnson (3 over), Jon Rahm (3 over), Daniel Berger (3 over), Patrick Cantlay (6 over) and Adam Scott (7 over).
Dangerous climate looming?
Gamers in Thursday’s afternoon wave, which included Scheffler, Rahm, Thomas and Cantlay, may face even stiffer gusts on Friday morning.
The climate forecast requires scattered showers and thunderstorms on Friday afternoon, with winds at 15 to 25 mph. Temperatures are anticipated to drop from highs close to 90 levels on Friday to the mid-60s on the weekend.
Max Homa, who shot even par within the first spherical, is one participant who is likely to be hoping for rain in Tulsa.
I am presently shedding to Rory by 5 and to allergic reactions by 1000. I benefit from the problem
— max homa (@maxhoma23) May 19, 2022
On Thursday, the wind lay down early, earlier than choosing up later within the day.
“I do know in regards to the wind,” stated Abraham Ancer, who performed at Oklahoma. “It may possibly blow, it may be gusty. With the tall timber it may be slightly deceiving the place it is coming from. There is a couple occasions you’re feeling it coming from one aspect and then you definately see the pin blowing the opposite means. You simply have to stay to it and belief the place the forecast says it’s and simply preserve that ball low.
“Hopefully the greens do not get too agency, that means we do not have to hit the ball that prime.”