|-5 E Cole (USA)*; -4 B DeChambeau (United States); -3 S Scheffler (USA), C Conners (Canada), D Johnson (USA); -2 K Bradley (USA), R Fox (New Zealand), V Hovland (North), A Scott (Australia)|
|Other picks: -1 J Ross (English)*; +1 R McIlroy (NI), C Morikawa (USA); +2 J Thomas (USA), B Koepka (USA), C Smith (Australia); +3 J. Spieth (USA); +6 J Rahm (Spa), M Fitzpatrick (England)|
|latest leaderboard * Indicates that the first round has not been completed|
American Bryson DeChambeau maintained the clubhouse lead after nightfall at the PGA Championship in Oak Hill, New York.
DeChambeau shot a 4-under 66, one shot ahead of Scotty Scheffler, Dustin Johnson and Corey Connors.
Masters champion Jon Rahm and England’s U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick both shot 6-over 76s.
Little-known American Eric Cole topped the leaderboard at 5 under, but the 34-year-old played just 14 holes.
Cole will return to complete his round at 07:00 local time (12:00 BST) on Friday, along with 11 other teams. England’s Justin Rose will also be out early, with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole for his first shot at 2 under.
Former Masters champion Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson were later starters. They challenged for the lead and shot 4 under before they both dropped the ball on the 18th as they raced to finish in near darkness.
Johnson made his first bogey of the round to finish at three under par, while Australian Scott was disappointing at two under par after a double bogey six on the final shot.
DeChambeau, who was known for being strong before beating Winged Foot, a course similar to Oak Hill, to win the 2020 U.S. Open, had six birdies and only two bogeys in the opening round. It does seem very comfortable.
Two-time winner Rory McIlroy battled illness and shot a 71, one shot ahead of defending champion Justin Thomas.
The start of the 105th PGA Championship was delayed an hour and 50 minutes after overnight frost blanketed the Rochester course in western New York state, near the Canadian border. But when the competition began, the signature high-difficulty track quickly heated up.
Patience and positioning are key at Oak Hill, where the thick rough eats up any off-line shots, making it nearly impossible to find and hold the green off the tee.
While many players had a frustrating day, Scheffler was the epitome of calm and his usual demeanor as he managed to navigate the treacherous par 70 layout for a clean 67.
It was his 15th start, the first bogey-free in a major, and coming to such a notoriously difficult course made the 2022 Masters champion even happier for his efforts.
“It’s one of those places where you try to stay in place, make big par putts and keep the momentum going. I’ve done a good job at that,” he said.
“I feel like my game is better suited to this kind of testing. I’m more excited for a game like this than I was for a birdie extravaganza last week. Having said that, I don’t think I’m mentally able to handle being on tour every week. Play a game like this.”
McIlroy fights, Lahm panics
McIlroy played low-key, with the Northern Irishman still hurt by his stinging error at the Masters and playing with three bogeys on the front nine.
A two-time PGA champion and four-time major champion, the four-time major champion played well on the back nine despite three birdies and a bogey for a 71 , keeping himself in the game — even though he’s been a little sick himself.
“I’m fighting something,” McIlroy said. “But actually I feel better today than I did yesterday, drink plenty of water and rest and I’ll be fine.”
It was a disappointing start for Lahm, though, with the Spaniard looking odd as he struggled for a 76 that made him think more about making the cut than winning the title.
He birdied the first hole, the 10th, but didn’t hit again until the 8th, ending a round with six bogeys and a double.
England’s Fitzpatrick, who reached the final pair at last year’s PGA of America, also struggled for a 76, making three bogeys per nine holes after failing to find a birdie.
American Thomas actually made only a few mistakes, but they cost him three when he finished at 2 over, while good friend Jordan Spieth was another A man who sometimes let his emotions boil during his 73.
Spieth, who was sidelined by a wrist injury, showed no real signs of bothering him as he faltered in his latest effort to win the only major he has so far failed to win, And completed the career grand slam.
Rochester’s War of Attrition
Canada’s Connors and 2011 US PGA Champion Keegan Bradley are both solid iron players, so it’s no surprise to see them both challenge on a course where position is everything.
Norwegian star Viktor Hovland has been close to the point difference in the past two majors and is tied with Bradley at two under par.
New Zealander Ryan Fox – the son of All Black rugby league legend Grant – has been battling pneumonia and suffering sleepless nights after giving birth to his second child in recent weeks, but he also hit 68.
But only 19 players finished the day under par.
England’s Callum Tarron took the lead briefly after three consecutive birdies on the second hole, but bogeyed the last two holes for a 71.
Compatriot Tyrell Hatton was favored by many this week, opening with a 77, while Scotland’s Bob McIntyre fared better.
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