World No. 1 Rory McIlroy shook off some rust after being away for several weeks and looked just fine, his injured left ankle causing no problems.
Sweden’s David Lingmerth defied the conditions to reach six under after covering the back nine in 31 and picking up another shot on the fifth, only to promptly three-putt the sixth for his first bogey of the day.
Fellow Americans Matt Kuchar, Russell Henley, Harris English and J.B. Holmes, and Australian Jason Day, opened with 68s as the wind began to pick up on the visually spectacular but challenging links-style layout.
The American two-time major victor carded a one-under 71 in the opening round of the year’s last major to be five shots behind leader Dustin Johnson. I did a really good job tee to green, I just didn’t make any putts.
“I’ve got some work to do these first two days”, he said, “and from there we’ll adjust and work our butts off to try and get a third Major this year – which would be a pretty cool place in history to be a part of”.
The World No 1 and world No 2 provided the main event at Whistling Straits on Thursday, even though Dustin Johnson eventually claimed a one-shot lead.
“Had a couple bogeys there on the incoming stretch of that back nine but then got it around, saw a few putts go in on my second nine”.
“I think (it was) one of the better rounds in the afternoon”, he said, adding a note of admiration for Lingmerth’s effort.
Brit Justin Rose, using his putter from last year’s Ryder Cup, recovered from bogeying two of his first four holes to post a 69 and sit three off the lead.
“You know, I hit it close on seven and eight and lipped both of those out”, Johnson said.
“Today I really felt like I had my ball under control, a lot like I did at the U.S. Open“.
“The way I played at the Open Championship, that kind of kicked on to the RBC Canadian Open and that helped my confidence so much, just understanding what I need to do to win a tournament”, Day said after his opening-round 68 at the PGA.
“I hit a great drive down there”, he said of the 16th. The ball was going where I was looking.
“It made me realise that sometimes I get too wrapped up in what I’m doing and maybe it gave me some perspective going forward”.
All eyes were on Rory McIlroy and his return to competitive golf on Thursday at Whistling Straits.
McIlroy got up and down from shallow water on No. 5 to save par – the highlight shot in a round of 1-under 71.
On the next tee box, he put another one in the water, leading to a long discussion with a rules official, then a drop far back in the fairway that led to a bogey 6.
“There’s plenty of golf to be played”, Day said.
Playing alongside McIlroy, US Masters and US Open champion Jordan Spieth parred his way to the turn before a bogey six at the 11the was cancelled out by a chip-in birdie two at the 12th. “I just had no feel at all for the speed (of the greens)”.