PGA Championship first-round leaderboard
-5 C Conners (Can); -3 B Koepka (USA), K Bradley (USA), V Holland (Nor), A Wise (US), S Horsfield (Eng), C Davis (Aus); -2 C Morikawa (US), M Laird (Sco), C Tringale (US)
Selected others: -2 P Mickelson (USA); -1 P Casey (Eng), R Fowler (US); Level B DeChambeau (US), J Rose (Eng); +1 G Higgo (SA), L Westwood (Eng), J Spieth (US); +2 M Leishman (Aus); +3 R McIlroy (NI), J Thomas (USA)
Great starts for Collin and Corey
Corey Conners has been consistently better all season. In 20 tournaments this season, he has made the cut 18 times, with seven top-10 finishes. Biggest issue is his putting, which lets him down under pressure.
Collin Morikawa has made an equally fantastic start in a bid to retain the title he won at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California.
The young American is considered one of the best iron players in the game, which was on show in the first round. His approaches to the 6th and 8th in particular were absolutely magnificent. It will all come down to putting for the defending champion.
No love from Kiawah for Rory
Prior to the tournament, Rory McIllroy stated that his previous success at Kiawah Island wasn’t going to help him, and he was right.
He started on the 10th, and made an absolute hash of the hole. The tee-shot ended up going very right, and then he ended up in a green-side bunker, followed by a lucky wedge out, ending in a very fortunate bogey.
Somehow he followed it up with back-to-back birdies. The only thing he did consistently was to miss the fairways and greens – 50% for both driving accuracy and greens-in-regulation.
Ominous sight for all
Brooks Koepka has been the most consistent player of majors in recent years. Since 2017, Koepka has won both the PGA Championship and US Open twice, and finished top-10 on four other occasions.
His last two performances coming into the tournament were affected by a serious right knee surgery.
After missing the cut at the Masters and then again last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson, this first round 69 will send shivers down the back of the field.
Koepka said he was “still six months away from full fitness” and a double-bogey start showed that, but he recovered very well. His approach to the 13th and 16th holes in particular were perfect. If Koepka keeps his form, he will win…simple as that. Unfortunately, the knee may find this course a little too taxing.
Who’s at risk of missing the cut?
The top 70 players and ties will make it to the weekend, with quite a few big names looking like they will miss out.
Cut lines in recent PGA Championships:
Apart from Rory (+3), there are a whole host of past major champions that are at risk of going home early. Adam Scott (+6), Sergio Garcia (+5), Justin Thomas (+3) and both Jason Day and Patrick Reed (+2) are going to need a more improved performance.
What a golf course, what a tournament ahead, and a win that will be deserved by whomever is able to hold their nerve and pay this course the respect it deserves.