Brooks Koepka shot a round of 63 to lead the US PGA field after day one in his defence of the second golfing major of the year at Bethpage
Brooks Koepka is not the individual anyone would want to encounter when seeking a cure from illness at a major championship. Just ask Tiger Woods. As Koepkas love affair with golfs big four continued, a struggling Woods could only look on with admiration. It could easily have been a couple better, said Woods of Koepkas 63, as he seized the lead at the 101st US PGA Championship. Koepka will begin day two with a one-stroke advantage over Danny Lee.
Woods, making his first start since claiming the Masters in April, produced one of his more unorthodox rounds before signing for a 72, two over par and, crucially, nine adrift of his imperious playing partner. The 15-times major champion made a double bogey at his opening hole and did likewise at the 17th, his 8th. A requirement to shake off rust was obvious; Woods had skipped his planned practice session on Wednesday, with an explanation for that arriving during round one media duties. I wasnt feeling that good yesterday so I decided to stay home and rest, Woods said. I got a little bit sick.
Woods denied recurring allergies were at the root of his problem he was not of a mind to deliver further description at all, in fact but insisted he felt in rude health by the time of his opening tee shot. To his credit, he did not cite illness or a 32-day competitive break as responsible for the messy elements of his Bethpage start. It defied logic that Woods would ordinarily play only nine buildup holes during US PGA week, as proved the case. Even during his pre-tournament press conference on Tuesday Woods had looked out of sorts.
Having made an eagle at his 13th courtesy of a curling 30ft putt, Woods had produced four threes in succession. At that juncture he tied fifth on the leaderboard. Optimism among vast New York galleries proved misplaced as the 43-year-old tossed three shots back to the course over his closing stretch.
I felt good today, Woods added. It wasnt as clean as Id like to have it.I didnt get off to a very good start. I then found my way back around, got it back under par for the day, then let a couple slip away with a couple of bad putts and a couple mistakes at the end.