McIlroy one off the lead at PGA


Golf:Rory McIlroy kicked off golf’s final major of the year with a superb five under par 67 at Kiawah Island today — helped rather than hindered by a spectator this time. The thunderstorms of earlier in the week gave way to dry and boiling hot conditions for the start of the USPGA Championship and players took advantage on the course made famous by the “War on the Shore” Ryder Cup in 1991.

McIlroy’s round put him in a share of second place one behind Swede Carl Petterson (66). In last month’s Open at Royal Lytham McIlroy’s hopes of a second major title nosedived after he rebounded off a teenager’s head out of bounds late on the first day.

On this occasion he hit a lady on the hip after badly pulling his tee shot to the dangerous short 17th - his eighth - but it came back into a nice lie in the sand only 25 feet from the flag. From there the 23-year-old, already three under for the day, splashed out to six feet, saved his par and brought a cheer from the gallery by running back to give the fan the ball.

McIlroy had opened with a 12-foot birdie putt, converted a 10-foot chance on the short 14th and then chipped to six feet at the long 16th — a hole which saw then playing partner Jim Furyk, three under at the time, needing three attempts to putt up a bank right of the green and take a double bogey seven.

Come the front nine McIlroy picked up further strokes at the long second and 480-yard sixth and kept a bogey off his card to be in the clubhouse alongside big-hitting American Gary Woodland.

Graeme McDowell was two under after 10, while Pádraig Harrington was level par with eight to play also. Lee Westwood turned one under, but then bogeyed the third, fifth, sixth and eighth to drop to three over, two behind last year’s Open champion Darren Clarke, who carded a 73. Michael Hoey was two over through eight.

Former amateur star Joost Luiten of Holland is playing his first major in America this week and it was a dream start for him, three birdies in five holes from the 10th followed by a 25-foot putt for eagle at the 581-yard 16th. However, four consecutive birdies on the way home left him four under. Tiger Woods was another early starter and after two birdies and two bogeys in the first six holes he had a hat-trick of birdies around the turn, but then dropped another stroke at the 458-yard fourth and finished three under.

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