Charlotte, NC, US, Aug 11: Anirban Lahiri played a lot better than what his scorecard showed but a good chunk of the blame for that would fall on the shortest club in his bag, the putter. Lahiri, who opened with a bogey and three-putted twice still came back with a one-over 72 that placed him Tied-33rd at the end of the first round of the 99th PGA Championships at Quail Hollow.
Three-over after eighth holes he got a birdie but gave that back to be once again three-over with three holes to go. Lahiri then closed with birdies on par-5 seventh and ninth for a more comforting 72 on a day when the greens were very fast.
Lahiri’s 72 was matched by his Asian Tour colleague Scott Hend and the duo was Tied-33rd, while KT Kim and Wang Jeunghun shot 73 to be Tied-44th. Thongchai Jaidee and Young-han Song struggled with 80 each and were Tied-138th.
After Dane Thorbjorn Olesen shot four-under 67 in the morning, when the scores were better, Kevin Kisner joined him late in the evening as he closed his round with three birdies in last five holes. He finished with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.
The two scores of 67 were also the highest to lead after the first round of the PGA Championship since Matt Kuchar shot 67 at Whistling Straits in 2010.
Jordan Spieth struggled on the greens during his 72 and Rory McIlroy ended with the same score after being one-under at the turn. He was done in by a bogey and double bogey at 13th and 14th and both were T-33rd.
Lahiri said, “Frankly I played solid but it was only in the second nine (front nine of the course) that I got going. I had a shaky start but as the round progressed things became better.”
“The greens were way firmer as they had dried up as compared to yesterday. I really struggled with the speed of the greens and even left some putts short. What really hurt me on the first nine was the two three putts on the 14th and 17th. Those were costly mistakes, because otherwise the way I played I should have been in red numbers.”
He added, “On the second nine I missed two makeable putts from short distances like from six feet on fifth (for par) and from five feet on the shot par-4 eighth but made two good birdies on seventh and ninth.”
At three-under 68, there were five players rookie Grayson Murray, whose win at Barbasol two weeks ago in the same week as the British Open, earned him a PGA spot, was tied third alongside US Open champion, Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, DA Points and Chris Stroud, whose win last week at Barracuda forced him to change plans as he qualified for the PGA Championships.
Hideki Matsuyama rode up and down as he opened with two birdies, but by the time he turned he had one more birdies but also two bogeys to be one-under. On the back nine he had three bogeys in a row from third to fifth, before stemming the rot with a par and then closed the day with three birdies in a row for a day’s work of one-under 70 and was Tied-15th.
Rickie Fowler survived a triple bogey on par-4 fifth and shot two-under 69 with the aid of six birdies and one more bogey, while Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and John Rahm carded one-under 70 each.
Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els had a miserable start to their 100th Major as they shot 79 and 80 respectively. Mickelson’s record of not having missed a PGA cut since 1995 is now in danger.
Dutchman Joost Luiten recorded a hole-in-one on the 181-yard No. 4 hole using a 6-iron. It was the first ace on the newly-constructed hole, and the first in a PGA Championship since 2013 by Tim Clark.
Written by V Krishnaswamy. Follow him at @Swinging_Swamy