On the hunt for his first Grand Slam since 2014, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy took the lead in the opening round of the PGA Championship on Thursday, in which favorites Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm disappointed and a sore Tiger Woods finished in 99th place.
Eight years later, McIlroy once again led a Grand Slam tournament thanks to his 65 stroke card, five under par, at the Southern Hills course in Tulsa (Oklahoma).
The former world number one shone with seven birdies, the last of which allowed him to separate by a stroke from the Americans Will Zalatoris and Tom Hoge.
(You may be interested in: Luis Díaz: astronomical figures of his price in Liverpool are revealed)
In shared fourth place was the Mexican Abraham Ancer along with the Americans Justin Thomas and Matt Kuchar, all with 67 strokes (-3), and in seventh place a group of nine golfers with the Chileans Joaquín Niemann and Mito Pereira, all with 68 (-2).
The first two in the world ranking, the American Scottie Scheffler and the Spanish Jon Rahm, concluded far from the head with cards of 71 (+1) and 73 (+3) strokes respectively.
The first blow in the PGA Championship, the second Grand Slam of the year, was given by McIlroy with seven birdies and two bogeys, signing his best initial round in a ‘Major’ together with that of the 2011 United States Open.
The 33-year-old Northern Irishman had not finished leading a round of a Grand Slam since his triumph at the 2014 PGA Championship, the fourth and last of the ‘Big’ trophies he has in his cabinet.
“It was a great start to the tournament. I’ve been playing well coming here,” he recalled.
Five weeks ago, McIlroy dazzled on the final day of the Augusta Masters by hitting a 64-shot card that matched the best final round of the event, catapulting him into second place behind winner Scheffler.
(You may be interested in: Sebastián Villa, accused: the Colombian’s situation is complicated)
“Obviously I’ve taken a lot from that last round at Augusta, I played well at Wells Fargo and in the practice rounds earlier this week. When your game feels like that, it’s just a matter of going out there and sticking to your game plan. , execute as well as you can, and stay in your own world,” he explained.
Tiger Woods finished the round in pain
McIlroy competed in the same group as fellow former number ones Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods, who battled through pain in his second tournament after his serious car accident in February 2021.
Woods, 46, starred in an exciting start to the day with two birdies in his first five holes, celebrated by the crowd of fans that accompanied him, but he lost steam until he finished with a card of 74 shots (+4).
“I’m in a little bit of pain right now,” Woods said, hampered by multiple fractures to his right leg in the crash 15 months ago. “My leg doesn’t feel as good as I’d like.”
Under a strong sun and a temperature of 33º, Tiger’s resistance was diminishing as he had to walk the field. The Californian chained five bogeys in eight holes and closed the first day with another two in the final holes.
This performance left Tiger in danger of missing out on Friday’s cut but the American showed his willingness to make it to the weekend as he did at the Masters. Now comes “a lot of treatment, a lot of ice baths and trying to get ready for tomorrow,” he stressed.
The complicated day of Sebastián Muñoz
It was not an easy day for Colombian Juan Sebastián Muñoz, who had just fought for the AT&T Byron Nelson title over the weekend. He delivered a card of 74 strokes, four above par.
With five bogeys and a solitary birdie, Muñoz needs to improve this Friday to make the cut for the first time in this tournament, in his third participation.
Muñoz comes from fighting until the end for his second title on the PGA Tour. After leading the first three rounds and shooting a 60 on day one, the Colombian finished in third place behind KH Lee and Jordan Spieth.
The first two of the world ranking, without rhythm
The top two finishers in the world rankings, Scheffler and Rahm, shared a group in the afternoon without finding their rhythm in the Southern Hills.
Scheffler, in search of his second Grand Slam title, got off to a solid start with four par holes and a spectacular eagle on the fifth, but then bogeyed five times in the last 10 holes and was even thankful to finish in 38th place.
“I’m definitely a lot further behind than I expected,” he acknowledged. “I’m pretty frustrated with how I’ve played the last nine (holes). But one over par, playing as poorly as I did today, didn’t take me out of the tournament, so I’m still in a good position.”
Rahm, meanwhile, fell to 78th place after sealing just two birdies and committing three bogeys and a double bogey in his frustrating tournament debut.
(In other news: Egan Bernal returns to the fray: he continues with his political trills)
“It’s a complicated course. I’ve given myself options but in the end there are greens that bounce a little, the wind, the afternoon… it gets complicated,” he described. “But there are three days left so let’s see if we start to come back a bit tomorrow.”
His current champion, veteran Phil Mickelson, who resigned from the title defense due to the controversy generated by his comments in support of the new LIV Golf series, financed by Saudi Arabia, does not compete in this event.
#Juan #Sebastián #Muñoz #difficult #day #PGA #Championship
Leave a Reply