Australian Jason Day carded a 5-under par 65, along with Brendon Todd to sit atop the leaderboard after the first round of the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park Golf Course in San Francisco.
“Today I drove it really nicely, and when I was out of position, I left myself on the right side of the fairways to be able to at least get somewhere around the greens, and if I did miss the greens I left it in the right spot”, Day said.
After three days of windy, cold and damp conditions players made their way around Harding Park in light winds, and a high marine layer that gave way to sunshine and shirt sleeves after being bundled in sweaters and rain gear prior to Thursday.
The 2015 PGA champion took advantage of benign conditions, along with a slew of others in the morning wave.
Todd, winner of two PGA events in November, playing in the afternoon on a golf course nearly 1.5 shots more difficult due to the freshening winds, carded seven birdies and two bogeys to share the lead. Todd gave some credit to the course setup and preparation. “The staff here at Harding Park has done a good job providing a smooth surface for us. It was lights-out today. I couldn’t have putted any better, there’s no doubt.”
Nine players are a stroke back at 4-under, including two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka and 2010 PGA champion Martin Kaymer.
Scottie Scheffler, a PGA Tour rookie playing in his first PGA Championship, hit the round’s first tee shot of the day off the 10th tee, birdied his opening two holes, was another in the hunt at 4-under. He was surprised how mild the weather was, expecting some of the chilly winds that blanketed TPC Harding Park over the practice days.
“I mean, I expected it to be really cold when we started,” he said. “The sun had barely come up. It was pretty cold but luckily there was no wind. You don’t really know what to expect out of the weather here.”
Tiger Woods, owner of four PGA Championships, sits three back after a 2-under 68, his lowest opening round in a major since the 2012 Open Championship. Despite a solid under-par round Woods sounded as if perhaps he should have done more.
“I thought anything today in the red was going to be good. The way the forecast was, it (the marine layer) was supposed to lift today and get a little more windy. I didn’t think there would be that many guys at 4-under or better, but the greens were soft this morning. If you drove the ball in play, you could get the ball close to some of these flags.”
Also sitting at 2-under was big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau, who despite his driver coming apart on the 7th tee and being allowed to replace the shaft had reached 4-under before conditions toughened leading to a pair of late bogey’s.
“I think the golf course changed dramatically on the back nine, and it was one of those things that you almost had to be careful and cautious. The golf course showed its teeth, and you know, we took the brunt of it.”
Notes: World No. 1 Justin Thomas shot 71, the same number as Barracuda Champion Richy Werenski. … 2019 Barracuda champ Collin Morikawa shot 69. … Bud Cauley shot 66, and Alex Noren shot 67. Both played in Truckee last week, and got in to the field as alternates. … According to Elias Sports Bureau, five former major winners are within one stroke of the lead (or leading) for only the second time in PGA Championship stroke-play history at the end of Round 1. … Eleven players shot 66 or better on Thursday, setting a new opening-round total for one major.