Rory McIlroy set the pace in Tulsa after a five-under 65 while Jordan Spieth started his bid for the career Grand Slam with a two-over 72; Tiger Woods sits nine behind after an opening-round 74 – Watch the PGA Championship throughout the week live on Sky Sports Golf
Rory McIlroy ended his torrid first-round record in majors to race into a one-shot lead after the opening day of the 104th PGA Championship at Southern Hills.
McIlroy had posted a combined 35 over par in the first round of majors since his most recent victory at the 2014 PGA Championship, including a one-over 73 at The Masters last month, only to improve that statistic by dominating his star-studded group on the opening day in Tulsa.
Playing alongside Jordan Spieth – chasing the career Grand Slam – and Tiger Woods, who won the 13th of his 15 majors when this venue last hosted the event in 2007, McIlroy pulled clear of the field and set a target that was not beaten with an impressive five-under 65.
Beginning on the back nine, McIlroy opened with back-to-back pars before a brilliant approach into the par-four 12th left him inches from the flag and marked the start of a run of four consecutive birdies.
McIlroy got up and down from a greenside bunker to take advantage of the par-five 13th and rolled in from 25 feet at the next, with a 10-foot birdie at the 15th lifting him into the solo lead and helping him reach the turn in 31.
The Northern Irishman holed a 15-footer at the second but missed a birdie opportunity from half the distance at the fourth, only to convert from 12 feet at the 665-yard par-five next to temporarily go three ahead.
McIlroy’s hopes of a ’61 round’ and the lowest in major history were ended when he missed from nine feet to save par at the sixth, before losing his outright advantage after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker on his penultimate hole.
The 32-year-old responded by nailing a 20-footer at the ninth to register a seventh birdie of the day, giving him a one-shot advantage after the morning wave over American duo Will Zalatoris – who birdied two of his last three holes – and Tom Hoge.
Matt Kuchar and Abraham Ancer both sit two off the lead, with 2017 champion Justin Thomas joining the share of third place when he posted a three-under 67 – the lowest score from the afternoon wave.
Cameron Smith recovered from a slow start to join Xander Schauffele in carding a two-under 68, a score matched by Matt Fitzpatrick in the afternoon, while Woods and Spieth were unable to replicate McIlroy in building on their impressive starts.