PGA Championship: Rory McIlroy shines at Southern Hills, while Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth struggle

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PGA Championship
Source: Skysports

Rory McIlroy claimed a one-shot lead after the first day of the 104th PGA Championship at Southern Hills, ending his dreadful first-round record in majors.

Since his most recent victory at the 2014 PGA Championship, McIlroy has shot a total of 35 over par in the first round of majors, including a one-over 73 at The Masters last month, only to improve that figure by dominating his star-studded group on the first day in Tulsa.

With a stunning five-under 65, McIlroy broke away from the field and set a target that was not beaten. He was playing alongside Jordan Spieth, who is chasing the career Grand Slam, and Tiger Woods, who won the 13th of his 15 majors when this location last hosted the event in 2007.

McIlroy started the back nine with back-to-back pars before hitting a stunning approach into the par-four 12th that left him inches from the flag and started a run of four straight birdies.

McIlroy got up and down from a greenside bunker on the par-five 13th and rolled in from 25 feet on the next, with a 10-foot birdie on the 15th putting him in the lead and enabling him to reach the turn in 31.

The Northern Irishman made a 15-footer at the second but missed a birdie chance from half the distance at the fourth, only to convert from 12 feet at the 665-yard par-five next to move three up.

McIlroy started the back nine with back-to-back pars before hitting a stunning approach into the par-four 12th that left him inches from the flag and started a run of four straight birdies.

McIlroy got up and down from a greenside bunker on the par-five 13th and rolled in from 25 feet on the next, with a 10-foot birdie on the 15th putting him in the lead and enabling him to reach the turn in 31.

The Northern Irishman made a 15-footer at the second but missed a birdie chance from half the distance at the fourth, only to convert from 12 feet at the 665-yard par-five next to move three up.

McIlroy’s ambitions of a ’61 round,’ the lowest in major history, were dashed when he missed from nine feet to save par on the sixth hole, then lost his outright lead when he couldn’t get up and down from a greenside bunker on the penultimate hole.

The 32-year-old answered with a 20-footer at the ninth for his seventh birdie of the day, giving him a one-shot lead over American combo Will Zalatoris (who birdied two of his final three holes) and Tom Hoge following the morning round.

Matt Kuchar and Abraham Ancer are tied for the second position, with 2017 champion Justin Thomas joining them in third place after shooting a three-under 67 in the afternoon wave.

Cameron Smith rebounded from a sluggish start to share a two-under 68 with Xander Schauffele, a number equalled by Matt Fitzpatrick in the afternoon, while Woods and Spieth were unable to match McIlroy’s strong start.

Woods had followed a close-range birdie on the 10th with a 15-foot hole at the 14th, only to drop a stroke at the next after a bad tee shot, and he then scored three consecutive bogeys from the 18th.

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