Corey conners defied the strong winds of Kiawah Island to shoot a five-under par 67 and grab a two-stroke lead after Thursday’s first round of the PGA Championship.

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The 29-year-old Canadian weathered gusts of wind and sandy terrain that ravaged many of the world’s top golfers as second-placed Justin Thomas and seventh-ranked Rory McIlroy struggled to reach 75 on the formidable Ocean Course.

“It was quite stress-free”, Conners said of his tour.

“I had a lot of putts to make. I kept the ball in the fairway for the most part. ”

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Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka, 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley, compatriot Aaron Wise, Norwegian Viktor Hovland, Australian Cam Davis and England’s Sam Horsfield were in a second place field out of 69.

Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson was in an eighth-place group of 70, with the 50-year-old American southpaw coming back after four bogeys in the first six holes with four of his six birdies of the last nine to share seventh.

“I was able to right the ship,” he said.

“I put on really well.”

Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, who can end a career Grand Slam with a win, opened the 73rd spot while the lead Dustin Johnson opened the 76.

Quadruple major champion McIlroy, winner of the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah, rode six bogeys while Thomas had three bogeys and a double bogey, all involving areas of sandy waste that penalized off target shots.

A group of three reigning grand champions produced mixed results with defending champion Collin Morikawa at 70, US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau at 72 despite four bogeys in a row and Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama , from Japan, 73 years old.

“It’s diabolical” DeChambeau said of the course.

“You have to be consistent and persistent and be patient.”

World No.39 Conners, who finished two top-10s at the Masters in the past six months, won his only PGA Tour title at the 2019 Texas Open.

Conners was third at Bay Hill in March and fourth last month at the nearby Heritage tournament in his best results so far this year.

Conners rolled in a 32-foot par 5-second bird putt, drilled another 33-footer in par-5 fifth, and gave up his approach at the par-5 seventh within three feet of the cut to prepare another birdie.

After a bogey in the ninth, when he found dirt on his approach, Conners responded with a 10-foot birdie putt at par 5 11th, then took the lead with birdies from 56 feet after getting posed at par 4 15 and four feet at the 16th par-5.

“There is nothing I want to do differently,” Conners said.

“I didn’t really make a mistake there. I played solid throughout the bag.

Koepka, chasing his third PGA title in four years, rallied after opening with a double bogey on the 10th hole.

“I got off to a bad start,” Said Koepka.

“It helped me start the round, allowed me to concentrate, to get into a rhythm.”

Koepka dropped his approach to within three feet and birdie par 5 11th, sank 9ft for birdie at 13, responded to a bogey at 15 with a birdie tap-in at 16th par 5 .

The world No.12 sank birdie putts 24 feet in the fourth and 16 feet in the third par 3 and landed his approach just inches from the birdie cut at the seventh par 5.

“Six birdies in any lap is pretty good,” Said Koepka.

Koepka, a 31-year-old American who won the 2017 and 2018 US Open and the 2018 and 2019 PGAs, is still battling the pain of right knee surgery in March.

“I don’t have to be 100% to play well,” Said Koepka.

“I am ready to play.”

The last nine starters like Koepka, Wise and Hovland have played nine straight holes in the wind.

“You’re just trying to hold on to those nine holes for life,” Said Koepka.

Bradley, who hasn’t won in nearly three years, birdied three par 5s and rolled in a 35-footer to tie the ninth.

“When you go out and play it feels good, especially on a course like this,” Bradley said.

“It’s a little more pressure. The atmosphere is different.

Hovland, a 23-year-old looking for his first major triumph, won his first two PGA Tour titles last year at the Puerto Rico Open and the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.

“I can’t remember the last time I felt as good as I did today on the golf course,” Hovland said.

“I felt really comfortable off the tee. I hit a bunch of fairways and was able to hit a bunch of greens as well.

Thursday’s first round scores in the 2021 PGA Championship on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, SC (US unless otherwise noted, par-72):

67 – Corey Conners (CAN)

69 – Keegan Bradley, Viktor Hovland (NOR), Brooks Koepka, Aaron Wise, Sam Horsfield (ENG), Cam Davis (AUS)

70 – Cameron Tringale, Martin Laird (SCO), Collin Morikawa, Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace (RSA), Gary Woodland, Kevin Streelman, Im Sung-jae (KOR)

71 – Talor Gooch, Paul Casey (ENG), Rickie Fowler, Tyrrell Hatton (ENG), Jason Dufner, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), Stewart Cink, Tom Lewis (ENG), Jason Kokrak, Richy Werenski, Joaquin Niemann (CHI), Padraig Harrington (IRL), Rasmus Hojgaard (DEN), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA), Will Zalatoris

72 – Adam Long, Harry Higgs, Scottie Scheffler, Bubba Watson, Bryson DeChambeau, Erik van Rooyen (RSA), Jon Rahm (ESP), Justin Rose (ENG), Cameron Smith (AUS), Ben Cook

73 – Dylan Frittelli (RSA), Matt Jones (AUS), Harold Varner, An Byeong-hun (KOR), Garrick Higgo (RSA), Jimmy Walker, Henrik Stenson (SWE), Lee Westwood (ENG), Xander Sc Chaudele, Hideki Matsuyama (JPN), Jason Scrivener (AUS), Charley Hoffman, Matt Wallace (ENG), Brad Marek, Denny McCarthy, Matt Fitzpatrick (ENG )), Carlos Ortiz (MEX), Andy Sullivan (ENG), Jordan Spieth, Shane Lowry (IRL), Patrick Cantlay

74 – Marc Leishman (AUS), Tom Hoge, Joel Dahmen, Zach Johnson, Ryan Palmer, Lanto Griffin, Kalle Samooja (FIN), Abraham Ancer (MEX), Rich Beem, Tony Finau, Jason Day (AUS), Patrick Reed, Ian Poulter (ENG), Brendon Todd, Dean Burmester (RSA)

75 – Brendan Steele, George Coetzee (RSA), Robert MacIntyre (SCO), John Catlin, Martin Kaymer (GER), Harris English, Rory McIlroy (NIR), Justin Thomas, Chan Kim, Mark Geddes (ENG), Kim Si-woo (KOR), Alex Beach, Daniel van Tonder (RSA), Wyndham Clark, Yang Yong-eun (KOR), JT Poston, Brian Harman, Webb Simpson, Mackenzie Hughes (CAN), Takumi Kanaya (JPN)

76 – Patrick Rada, Ben Polland, Rob Labritz, Thomas Detry (BEL), Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Rikuya Hoshino (JPN), Tommy Fleetwood (ENG), Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Thomas Pieters (BEL), Lucas Herbert, Chris Kirk, Greg Koch

77 – Kevin Kisner, Hudson Swafford, Brandon Hagy, Danny Willett (ENG), Alex Noren (SWE), Emiliano Grillo (ARG), Brett Walker, Brian Gay, Robert Streb, Kurt Kitayama, Sebastian Munoz (COL), Adam Hadwin ( CAN), Jazz Janewattananond (THA), Billy Horschel, Chez Reavie, Sergio Garcia (ESP), Matt Kuchar

78 – Bernd Wiesberger (AUT), Adam Scott (AUS), Peter Malnati, Jim Herman, Sami Valimaki (FIN), Max Homa, Russell Henley, Brandon Stone (RSA), Lee Kyoung-hoon (KOR), Victor Perez (FRA), Maverick McNealy

79 – Derek Holmes, Kevin Na, Danny Balin, Tim Pearce, Daniel Berger, Antoine Rozner (FRA)

80 – Larkin Gross, Pete Ballo

81 – Joe Summerhays, Shaun Micheel, Aaron Rai (ENGLISH)

82 – Cameron Champ, Stuart Smith, Omar Uresti

85 – John Daly, Sonny Skinner

86 – Frank Bensel

88 – Tyler collet

Sam Burns W / D

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Source: www.thesouthafrican.com
This notice was published: 2021-05-21 07:18:08

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