ST. LOUIS – Gary Woodland of the United States finished on Thursday the first day of the US PGA Championship, held this week at Bellerive Country Club, on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri, with six under par.
Woodland, who scored no less than seven birdies in the last 11 holes, snatched the lead from his compatriot Rickie Fowler (-5), one of the local fans’ favorites.
Meanwhile, Tiger Woods, winner of 14 majors, four of them PGA championships, has returned to the big four tournaments of the year after an absence of two years due to injuries, with a good start that has been hampered by a succession of bogeys in the middle of the round, finishing with an even par 70.
The top of the standings, after the first matchday, is occupied by a dozen Americans, including two Johnson, Zack (-4), winner of the 2015 British Open, and Dustin (-3), world number one.
The 25-year-old South African Brandon Stone (-4), who is enjoying a great season, has slipped between the Americans and finished tied 3rd, while Englishman Ian Poulter (-3) and Australian Jason Day (-3), winner of the 2015 PGA Championship, are among the tied 5th.
The winners of this year’s three previous big majors had mixed results. American Patrick Reed, winner of the Augusta Masters, finished with two over par, and his compatriot Brooks Koepka, winner of the US Open for the second consecutive year finished with -1.
For his part, Italian Francesco Molinari, the winner of the British Open in Carnoustie, recovered from two bad holes with a succession of birdies to finish with two under par and tied 16th.
“It’s a course that rewards good hits. I am surprised that the results were not better,” said Molinari about the lower than expected scores in the soft conditions at Bellerive.
The Italian golfer said that the rest of the week will be different as the greens and course surface are expected to harden in the next three days.