Three Share Lead at PGA; No. 1 McIlroy 1 Stroke Back
The good news for the rest of the field at the PGA Championship on Thursday? Rory McIlroy hit a double bogey 7 on the par 5 No. 10.
The bad news? Even with the gaffe, he’s only one shot off the lead.
McIlroy’s 5-under 66 has him sitting a stroke behind co-leaders Lee Westwood, Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer at Valhalla in Louisville, Kentucky.
Westwood started his day with a double bogey, then rattled off eight birdies, including four straight from No. 6 to No. 9. The 41-year-old Brit is considered one of the best players in the world without a Major championship. He finished third at the PGA in 2009.
The 28-year-old Chappell, ranked 94th on the PGA money list this year, played a bogey-free round, while the 37-year-old Palmer fired a 5-under 31 on the back nine.
Along with McIlroy tied for fourth are Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk, Edoardo Molinari and Chris Wood. Furyk, despite his one Major coming more than 11 years ago, was the PGA runner-up a year ago.
After doubling 10, McIlroy bogeyed 11 to go from 3-under to even par through 11 holes. He proceeded to birdie the next four holes in succession and added another on 18.
Mikko Ilonen and Jerry Kelly rounded out the Top 10 at 4-under. The 47-year-old Kelly is quite the surprise with his first-round 67. His last PGA win came in 2009 at New Orleans, and before that he hadn’t score a victory since July of 2002.
His best finish at the PGA Championship was a tie for 26th in 2011, and he hasn’t finished in the Top 10 of a Major since the 2007 US Open.
Defending champion Jason Dufner had to withdraw from the tournament with a neck injury; and Matt Kuchar pulled out with a bad back.
FedExCup leader Jimmy Walker is one of 15 played at 2-under, along with Phil Mickelson. Mickelson was 3-under at the turn, but had more bogeys (three) than birdies (two) the rest of the way.
Included in the logjam at 1-under are the likes of Ernie Els, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer, Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson.
World No. 2 Adam Scott and 21-year-old Jordan Spieth both shot even par 71s, while 64-year-old Tom Watson turned heads with a 1-over 72 on the day. Watson looked like he was headed for an even-par 71 before bogeying No. 16.
Barely a blip on the radar is 14-time Major winner Tiger Woods, who shot a 3-over 74 to tie for 109th. He would have been further down the charts, after bogeying his first two holes and sitting at 4-over through 14 but birdied No. 16.
The real “OMG” round among notable players belonged to 44-year-old Angel Cabrera, who staggered to an 11-over 82, going through an agonizing five hole stretch of three bogeys and two double bogeys on the back nine.