6 Thursday, May 16, 2019 20:53

Golf: Tiger struggles early at PGA Championship, Koepka shares lead

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (Reuters) - Tiger Woods mixed two double-bogeys with a birdie to sit six shots back of defending champion and early joint leader Brooks Koepka midway through his first round at the PGA Championship on Thursday.
May 16, 2019; Bethpage, NY, USA; Tiger Woods plays his shot from the tenth tee during the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Bethpage State Park - Black Course.

Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY SportsWoods, making his first start since his Masters triumph last month, was three over par at Bethpage Black, where he began the day at the par-four 10th hole and needed four shots to reach the green before two-putting from six feet for a double-bogey. The 15-times major champion barely missed the fairway with his opening tee shot but, given the thick rough, was forced to lay up from 201 yards.

He then sent his approach from 85 yards behind the green. Woods, who only played nine practice holes this week and stayed away from the course on Wednesday, quickly settled down and nearly rolled in long birdie putts at the next two holes before converting one from 15 feet at the par-four 15th. The former world number one then nearly holed out for birdie from 30 yards at the par-four 16th but ran into more trouble at the par-three 17th where his tee shot plugged into the face of the front bunker.

Woods blasted his ball to the back of the green then three-putted from 30 feet for double-bogey. The year’s second major, being contested in May for the first time since 1949, began on a cool, sunny morning after overnight rain further softened a 7,459-yard course that will put a premium on distance off the tee.

Koepka, playing in a group with Woods and British Open champion Francesco Molinari, drained a 40-foot birdie putt at his opening hole. He added another pair of birdies at his fifth and ninth holes to grab a share of the early lead. Molinari, who led going into the final round of the Masters, was even par after a roller-coaster start that included three bogeys and three birdies.

Matt Wallace, bidding to become the first Englishman in 100 years to win the PGA Championship, mixed four birdies with a bogey through eight holes to share the early lead. Among the late starters are world number one Dustin Johnson, who is set to tee off at 1:16 p.m. (1716 GMT) alongside Spaniard Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth, who can complete the career grand slam of golf’s four majors with a win this week.

. A high-profile threesome of former champions consisting of Phil Mickelson (2005), Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy (2012, 2014) and Australian Jason Day (2015) will head out at 1:38 p.m.. Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby DavisOur Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles...

News Code: 169332  |  Reuters
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