Rory McIlroy gets off to a good late start to lead the US PGA Championship in Tulsa


Rory McIlroy seemed to have finally gotten the quick start he craved in a major tournament on Day 1 of the 104th US PGA Championship.

Since winning the last of his four majors at the 2014 US PGA, McIlroy has a combined 35-over-par total in the first round of golf’s biggest four tournaments, with his last effort being a 73 over par at the April Masters.

But, perhaps inspired by the pairing with Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth – who is chasing career grand slams at Tulsa – it was a different story at Southern Hills, where Woods won the 13th of his 15 majors in 2007.

From the back nine, McIlroy parried the 10th and 11th before hitting a superb two-footed approach on the 12th to set up a birdie tap-in.

The 13th par five is 628 yards, but McIlroy was able to reach a greenside bunker in two and go up and down for a birdie before breaking through 25 feet on the 14th and 10 feet on the next to make it four in a row.

Pars of 16, 17 and 18 brought McIlroy to the 31 turn and a shot past American Davis Riley, with Justin Rose making it into the group a shot further on two under.

Woods had gotten off to a perfect start with a birdie from close range on the 10th and also landed a shot on the 14th – after using one of the many holds off the tee to tuck into a big sandwich – before unleashing his first shot of the day on the 15 following a missed tee shot.

Tiger Woods tees off on the 13th hole in the first round of the US PGA Championship (Matt York/AP)

Another bogey in the ninth, caused by an approach shot into a bunker, brought Woods down to par, with Spieth two over after three bogeys in the space of four holes.

The marquee group had taken two hours and 40 minutes to complete their first nine holes, with the course layout at Southern Hills causing several bottlenecks.

The second green, third tee, fifth green, sixth tee and seventh tee are all close together, while the first and 10th holes head in different directions from the same small teeing ground.

There are fears that the layout of the course could exacerbate the problem of slow play
There are concerns that the layout of the course could exacerbate the problem of slow play (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

“They’re going to have to be pretty careful with how they lay out the golf course because of the location of some of the tee boxes,” England’s Tyrrell Hatton warned before the start of play.

“The rounds could be stupidly slow, which ultimately nobody wants. You want to move within a reasonable time. I hope they are smart enough with how they do it.

Ryder Cup teammate Ian Poulter believes Southern Hills is “as difficult a course as I have seen in a long time”, but agrees with Hatton’s assessment of the pace of play.

“We’re teeing off on two greens, so you’ve got a stop-and-go problem right there,” Poulter said. “We played a hole on the back nine where you fly it straight onto the green you just put out. It will be long. »

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