Both Jim Furyk and Adam Scott moved all the way to 6 under before settling for 5-under 65s to share the 18-hole lead at the PGA Championship on Thursday at Oak Hill.
Here are 5 Things to take away from the first round in Rochester, N.Y.:
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1. GREAT SCOTT: With five consecutive birdies – which Adam Scott called “probably the best run I’ve ever had” – it seemed as though the 2013 Masters champion was going to challenge the all-time major record of a 62. But, after pars at Nos. 9 and 10, Mother Nature had other plans. She sent the field back to the locker room with a good bit of rain and thunderstorms. Play was halted at 4:24 p.m. EDT and didn’t resume until 5:35 p.m.
Scott lost a bit of momentum, picking up a single birdie on No. 14 and a bogey on No. 16 to stall in his quest for a major record.
“I was hot when the rain came,” Scott said, then needing “to go and do the whole settling down thing again like teeing off at the first.
“I was scrambling and not quite in the same rhythm as I was in. I was going along nicely, I still felt. It’s always tough with a rain delay like that when you’re playing really well.”
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2. FURYK’S FLATSTICK: While crediting a new driver for his recent back-to-back top-10s on the PGA Tour, it was a different club that proved to be the difference for Jim Furyk on Thursday.
It was his putter that proved to be the biggest difference in the first round – a club he had struggled with since the Masters. He hit 15 greens, leading to six birdies and the best first round of a major in his career with his 65. He did bogey his final hole, the par-4 9th, one that saw Tiger Woods drop out of red numbers with a double-bogey to end his round.
“I had some testy, 4‑, 5‑, 6‑footers to start the day and I was able to knock a bunch of those in and get some rhythm with my putter, and I think that eased some tension with the rest of my game, as well,” said Furyk. (Check out Furyk’s equipment he used on Thursday.)
“I feel like putting, even at your most hopeless point, even when you’re out there on the course and you’re really struggling, we’ve all been there before – every player has been in that position before. And sometimes it takes a day; sometimes it takes a week; sometimes it takes a month, but eventually you get the putter in your hand and it feels great one day. Felt great today. Doesn’t mean it’s going to feel great tomorrow, and whatever.”
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3. CREAM RISES: Lee Westwood, only 19 days removed from losing the 54-hole lead at the Open Championship, showed off an incredible short-term memory by firing a 4-under 66 to sit one shot off the lead, T-3 with Canadian David Hearn.
“After the Open I could have looked upon it as disappointing, but as a golfer you try to take the positives out of it and carry on,” Westwood said. (Read more about his round here.)
Westwood wasn’t the only big-name star within striking distance of the lead, as Jason Day, Matt Kuchar and Paul Casey are among six players two shots off the lead, while Steve Stricker, Justin Rose and Jason Dufner are in a 11-way tie at 2 under.
“It was pretty easy for us out here today,” Dufner said. (Read more about his round here.)
“The conditions kinda got soft on the greens out there. It made it scoreable, so if you hit it in the fairway you could be aggressive.”
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4. BACK-NINE BLUES: Oak Hill, with its high rough and sloping greens, won’t play much easier than on PGA Championship opening day, for the turf was softened by overnight rain and wind nowhere to be felt. So it appeared Tiger Woods might be off and running when he faced that 3 1/2-foot, downhill-sidehill birdie attempt on his 11th hole, No. 2, on the brink of reaching 3 under.
But then his momentum reversed. Feeling hurried because his threesome had been put on the clock a hole earlier, he didn’t commit to the line and blocked the ball to the right. Then he missed a 14-foot birdie putt left at the par-3 third. Then he bogeyed the par-5 fourth after three substandard shots. Then, facing a poor lie, he flubbed a short-side pitch into a bunker and doubled the last.
A potential cruise turned into uncharacteristic rapid rewind for a man who just last week won by seven strokes against an all-star field.
“The round realistically could have been under par easily,” he said.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Defending champion Rory McIlroy had five birdies and four bogeys in carding a 1-under 69. . . . Bo Van Pelt withdrew after the first round due to a hip injury. He fired a 10-over 80 on Thursday. . . . 35 of the 156-player field finished under par. . . . Kohki Idoki got all the way to 4 under through his first five holes, but was 6 over the rest of the way and is currently outside the top 70, which is the PGA’s cut line. . . . 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, making his first PGA Championship start, fired a 4-over 74. . . . Angel Cabrera likely won’t be sticking around for the weekend after a 10-over 80. . . . Robert Garrigus held the lead for much of the morning before settling for a 3-under 67. Read all about his round here.