Dustin Johnson, back at the scene of the proverbial crime, admits that he has not brushed up on the local rules for the PGA Championship.
Dustin Johnson’s pursuit of a first Major title at the PGA Championship gathered steam quickly Thursday as the American powered to the top of the leaderboard at six-under par.
Jason Day’s rich vein of form continued unabated as his presence among a group of wannabe first-time major winners brought out the best in the Australian.
Johnson is the clubhouse leader with a one-shot lead over Sweden’s David Lingmerth, who is still on the course. Johnson hit his tee shot 336 yards to the left side of the fairway, clear past a treacherous slope of tall grass and bunkers.
England’s Justin Rose was two over par after four holes but produced five birdies on the next 11 to shoot a three-under 69, a score matched by fellow countryman James Morrison, with Paul Casey a further shot behind.
“I made some putts today, which I haven’t been doing this year at all, so it was fun to see the ball go in for a change”, Stricker said. So I feel a lot more comfortable right now. “I was swinging well and I was hitting the shots where I was looking”. And I feel like I’m actually here to compete.
“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.
The American, who was given a two-stroke penalty with victory in his sights at the same course in 2010, shot a first-round 66 for six under par.
World number one Rory McIlroy and second-ranked Jordan Spieth, who between them have won four of the last five majors played, were among the late starters in a marquee grouping with British Open champion Zach Johnson.
The former Irmo golfer had five birdies and an eagle along with a bogey to finish his first round at 6-under-par 66.
Spieth, who is looking to become only the third player after Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods to win three majors in a year, followed 10 straight pars with a three-putt bogey from 15 feet on the 11th, but chipped in on the 12th and also birdied the 16th.
“It was a game of two nines really, trying to hold on the front nine and then a few more chances on the back”, added McIlroy. “Probably one of the worst putting rounds I’ve had in a very long time”. “I just never had the speed right”.
Another bogey-birdie combination at eight and nine saw McIlroy even at the turn – not before an impressive par save at the par-five fifth from the shallow water of a pond. “In this wind it’s tough to do, but I did a great job of controlling the golf ball today”.
By the end of the day, though, this PGA was starting to look a lot like the first two staged along Lake Michigan in 2004 and 2010. 2, 9 and 11 to recover, “Obviously, I was pretty nervous on the first tee”, McIlroy said.
His coach, Butch Harmon, said there was going to be no holding him back.
Day finished fourth this year at the British Open, leaving a birdie putt short on the 72nd hole at St. Andrews that would have put him in a playoff.