The impressive play of Steve Stricker has succeeded in opening a little daylight at the top of the PGA Championship’s first round leaderboard. After beginning his round on the tenth hole, the American immediately set about stringing together a hat-trick of birdies. Since then, he’s only added to that tally, with additional birdies coming on the fifteenth, eighteenth and first.
Six-under-par through twelve holes, he currently enjoys a three-shot lead over the relatively unheralded Jerry Kelly and in-form Swede Alex Noren.
An international quartet consisting of jovial Zimbabwean Brendon de Jonge, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, Australian John Senden and Italian teenager Matteo Manassero lies a shot further adrift.
Last week’s winner, Adam Scott, carded a one-under-par 69, currently enough for a tie of eighth place. Two more pre-tournament favourites, Nick Watney and Luke Donald, currently sit a shot further back, on level-par.
Predictably, the big news this morning has been the form of fourteen-time major champion Tiger Woods. Though an early run of birdies saw him ride a wave of spectator-driven hyteria to the top of the field, his game disintegrated around the turn, leading to a run of eight dropped shots in the same number of holes. His second double bogey of the day, coming on the sixth hole (his fifteenth) leaves him six-over-par for the day.
Woods’ playing partner Padraig Harrington hasn’t fared much better. Clearly struggling with his ball-striking, the Dubliner’s three-over par.
The big shock of the day has been the performance of Ryo Ishikawa. After what was heralded by many as a break-out performance at last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the Japanese star this morning navigated the Athletic Club’s 7,500 yards in a scarcely believable 85 shots. His round included five double bogeys and a triple.
Norther Ireland’s major-winning trio of Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell have yet to tee off.