American needs victory to capture the career Grand Slam but last 17 Major champs all under par after round one
RORY McILROY and Jordan Spieth will have to re-write the Major championship form book if either is to take the USPGA title.
The last 17 Major winners have all been under par after the first round — and following stuttering starts, the star attractions at Quail Hollow are both ONE OVER.
This event was meant to be all about Spieth’s bid for a record-breaking Grand Slam, with McIlroy rated the most likely party-pooper over a course he has made mincemeat of in the past.
McIlroy has won twice here, holds the course record as well as the lowest 72-hole score.
He also boasts the best scoring average and the best return for birdies and eagles.
It was easy to see why as he shrugged off bogeys at both par-threes to move to within two shots of the lead at two under par with six to play.
But the short holes continued to plague the world No 4. Another dropped shot on the 13th was followed by a disaster at the next, a driveable par four — but not if you yank your tee shot into the lake.
That splashdown led to a double bogey and when McIlroy failed to birdie the 15th, the easiest hole on the course, he had to scramble through the Green Mile to avoid further damage.
-4 (67) Thorbjorn Olesen, Kevin Kisner
-3 Grayson Murray, Gary Woodland, Brooks Koepka, Chris Stroud, DA Points
-2 Paul Casey, Rickie Fowler, Bud Cauley, Brian Harman, Patrick Reed, Jim Herman, Tony Finau
-1 Hideki Matsuyama, Tommy Fleetwood, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Jon Rahm
E Adam Scott
+1 Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth
+2 Danny Willett, Lee Westwood
+3 Ian Poulter
+4 Sergio Garcia
Spieth followed a very different path to his 72. With three to play he could see his hopes of becoming the youngest player to win all four Majors disappearing down the plughole.
Having started on the back nine, the Open champ was three over par and seemed to be unravelling after three-putting the holes five and six for bogeys.
But he showed the resilience that marked his stupendous late scoring burst at Royal Birkdale by following up with successive birdies.
He said: “After those two bogeys we had a bit of a wait on the seventh tee, and I told myself the next two were some of the easiest holes on the course, and I had to take advantage.
“They may be easier holes but they are still not giving away birdies.
“You have to go out and earn them. If you finish with three pars you could throw yourself out of the tournament.
“I hit great tee shots at both of them, and equally good approach shots to set up stress-free birdies.
“I needed them to be from short range because I’d burned the hole with so many putts. It looked at times like the lid was on the hole.
“But that sort of finish allows you to come off the course feeling a lot more positive about things.
“At three over, I was looking down the barrel.
“At one over you think it was a frustrating kind of day but one you can overcome with three days of solid golf.”
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