Rory McIlroy faces anxious wait to make US PGA Championship cut

Ross Houston
May 18, 2019

Tiger Woods endured a hard start at the US PGA Championship, carding a double bogey at his opening hole, but defending champion Brooks Koepka began in promising fashion.

Tiger Woods, in his first competitive round since winning the Masters a month ago, putted poorly for a 72 in the company of Koepka.

And this time, Tiger Woods was along for the ride.

"That was one of the best rounds I've played probably as a professional", Koepka said.

"My putter was hot today". "This was a insane day, seven-under, it's not going to happen every day".

On Thursday at the 7459-yard Bethpage, Koepka made no mistakes as he rattled off seven birdies and zero bogeys to equal his lowest round in relation to par at the majors. "That's a huge bonus for me. I'm actually interested, myself, in what I can do out there this week".

Danny Lee (64) and Tommy Fleetwood (66) were the only players within four shots of Koepka going into Friday's second round.

A pack of eight on 69 included major winners Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and top-ranked Dustin Johnson.

Should the 25-year-old prevail at the US PGA, he would become only the sixth golfer to complete a career Grand Slam of all four majors. He'll also be tasked with holding off a star-studded field that includes reigning champion Brooks Koepka as well as two-time victor Rory McIlroy.

The 43-year-old United States superstar opened with a double bogey at 10, added another at the par-3 17th and despite a 30-foot eagle putt at the par-5 fourth was unable to challenge Koepka after bogeys on three of the next four holes. "It could have been a hell of a round".

He was two over after nine holes, not yet certain of advancing to the weekend as the cut looms at three over par, or four over at most.

He is not exactly in a good spot after the opening round. He left a few out there. If you don't have a good day, you can very easily shoot 5, 6 over. His 63 was the 17th in PGA Championship history, and he is the first player to post a 63 in consecutive years at major championships.

Koepka was impossible to ignore in the opening round of the PGA Championship, partly because he was playing with Tiger Woods, mainly because of his 7-under 63 that broke the course record at Bethpage Black.

The first day was a roller coaster ride for Woods as his score fluctuated throughout the morning. TV ratings for the final round of this year's Masters were up more than 41 percent over last year's tournament - a fact not lost on veterans like Steve Stricker, one of Woods' closest friends on tour.

"Pride. Just pride", McIlory said as rain began falling at Bethpage Black.

While Woods hit his share of fairways, his bogeys on the fifth, seventh and eighth exposed some putter troubles that could be the product of rust. Only five others managed to break par. But he lipped the right edge on his bogey putt to make double bogey.

Johnson could be overtaken atop the rankings by four rivals this week - Koepka, Woods, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy.

Watch the PGA Championship throughout the week live on Sky Sports.

It only helped so much.

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