2013 PGA Championship: Round 1 Summary
By Torleif Sorenson on 8/8/13

The opening round of the 95th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. As is typical of the opening round of a major, some of the usual suspects are at the top of the leaderboard, while the odd surprise player made some headlines. For awhile, anyway...

The leaders

...are two men with majors under their proverbial belts. 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk took advantage of benign morning conditions and shot a five-under-par 65, matched later on by the current Masters champion, Australia's Adam Scott. Starting at the 10th hole, Furyk played Oak Hill's East Course like the U.S. Open champ that he is, grabbing a birdie at 10, plodding through the next five holes in even par, then taking birdies on five of the next 11 holes. His only mistake came at the treacherous 9th, when he missed the fairway right and had to pitch out of the trees and deep rough.
"Usually disappointed with ending the day on a bogey. But you know, 65, PGA, is not so bad."
Adam Scott agrees. Starting from the 1st tee on Thursday afternoon, the Queenslander surged where Mickelson slipped (see below), reeling off an impressive five birdies from the 4th through the 8th. And although he bogeyed 16, Scott sank a 15-footer at the last to stay at five-under 65 to tie Furyk for the first-round lead.
"Probably the best run I've ever had. I just hit really nice shots and didn't leave myself too much work. You have to take advantage of that if you're feeling that. It was a dream start after kind of a nervous first couple of holes."
Canadian David Hearn, who just missed winning at the Quad Cities a couple of weeks ago, and perennial major contender Lee Westwood are both tied at 66, one back. Among the notables a few shots back are Robert Garrigus, Ryder Cup hero Paul Casey, Matt Kuchar, Jason Day, Steve Stricker (no vacation this time), Jason Dufner, Bill Haas, Henrik Stenson, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, and and Keegan Bradley.

The favorites

Phil Mickelson may have left his driver home this week, but that didn't mean he couldn't avoid the rough. After salvaging par on the first two holes, Lefty bogeyed the third, then shockingly hooked his tee-shot OB at the 4th hole — and stumbled away with a disastrous 7. Major champion that he is, Mickelson settled down, ground out four straight pars, then went on a birdie binge beginning at the 9th. A weather delay probably helped, since he returned to the course with birdies at 11, 12, and 14. It looked like he was going to slide into Friday with a 1-under 69, but at 18, Mickelson treed his tee-shot, clipped some branches with his second, and finally got in with another double-bogey for a one-over 71.
"I was trying to get a 9‑iron through the little gap, so I would have a 100‑yard shot left, and it hit a tree. I was fighting for (bogey) from the start, and I ended up making a (double bogey). So it's not like I lost too much."
The world number-one Tiger Woods also shot a 71 that looked calmer and more consistent, but Woods was far from happy with the conclusion. Starting his round at the 10th, Woods missed the green and blew his birdie attempt ten feet past the jar, doing well to save par. And whereas Mickelson was too aggressive at times, Woods played an iron off the tee at the 13th, and stuck the approach shot to 12 inches for a birdie. At 15, he dropped a nine-footer for another bird.

But when he got to holes 1 through 9, things went sour. After a magnificent long-iron uphill approach at 2, Woods yanked his birdie putt to the right and never scared the hole. Then at the 4th, he dumped his approach in the right green-side bunker, then missed a seven-foot par-saver. Keeping in mind that he was still -1 on his round, Wood hit into the deep left rough at the 9th, which resulted in a very difficult approach shot that found the near face of a bunker. His 12-footer for bogey lipped out, leaving him with a +1 71. Woods declined to talk to TNT on camera, but noted (correctly) in the press center that except for a few bad breaks, he played rather well.
"Overall, I really played well today. I just hit a bad iron shot at 4, didn't get up-and-down. At 9, I was completely blocked out, tried to shape one over there and drew no lie at all. I was trying to play 20 feet long and putt back, putt back and try and get bogey, and I didn't even get over the bunker... ...the round realistically could have been under par easily."

Almost a Cinderella Story

The current Senior PGA champion, 51-year-old Kohki Idoki from Japan, got off to a hot start, saving par at the 1st with a long bomb, then reeled off four straight birdies. Alas, he ruined this writer's clever plan for a headline by crashing back to earth with bogeys at 9, 11, 15, 17, and then a costly double at 18. A two-over 72 in tough conditions is admirable for most golfers, but man, if only he could have hung on and parred the rest of the way in...

Friday's weather

Following a rain delay late this afternoon, rain fell in Rochester late Thursday evening and early Friday morning. The forecast calls for more showers before 2:00 p.m. EDT, then gradually becoming sunny with a high near 78°F. So, getting everybody done by Friday evening could be a challenge for the PGA of America. Once they do, however, Saturday and Sunday are predicted to be sunny with high temperatures of 75°F.

TNT will have cable coverage on Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT. And unless you're a Time Warner Cable subscriber in America's largest cities, CBS will televise on Saturday and Sunday. Online streaming is available at PGA.com.

Image via Wikipedia

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