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Conditions give assist to leaders

Conditions give assist to leaders

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2012 7:01 pm

AP Sports Writer
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Tiger Woods made three bogeys and still shot 69. Rory McIlroy was even better, breezing through the first round with barely a misstep.
At one point, a 26-year-old from the Netherlands named Joost Luiten looked poised to challenge the major championship scoring record of 63. That didn’t happen, but on the first day of the PGA Championship, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island was in a forgiving mood.
“It’s a little bit softer so that makes the fairways wider, and the wind really hasn’t blown, and the greens are still a little bit soft,” first-round leader Carl Pettersson said. “Under the right conditions, if it got really firm and fast and you had the wind, it would be very difficult. I think we’ve seen it about as easy as it can get today this morning.”
Pettersson shot a 6-under 66 to take a one-shot lead, but he was just one of several players who took advantage of the favorable terrain on a steamy day. McIlroy was one of four players at 5 under, and even John Daly worked his way into the mix, part of a big group at 68.
Conditions were windy when second round play began this morning.
In all, there were 44 rounds under par, the most in the opening round since there were 60 at Medinah in 2006.
Woods was three strokes back after a satisfactory day. He’s trying to end the longest drought of his career in the majors. This is his 14th major since he won his last one in 2008.
“Anything in the 60s is going to be a good start in a major championship,” Woods said.
McIlroy, Gary Woodland, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain and Alex Noren of Sweden each had 67. Fernandez-Castano and Noren played in the afternoon but weren’t too hindered by the elements.
“It was quite breezy this afternoon,” Fernandez-Castano said. “I don’t think it’s so much about how much. Maybe it’s the direction. The wind was kind of helping on the last few holes.”
Pettersson, a winner earlier this year in South Carolina down the coast at Hilton Head, broke 70 for the first time in 21 tries at the PGA Championship to take the lead. McIlroy, meanwhile, looked ready to contend after lackluster finishes at the year’s first three majors.
Luiten was at 8 under before bogeying his last four holes to finish at 68. Daly was even with him after round one — the 1991 champion made an eagle on the par-5 11th hole.
“I just want to play,” Daly said. “As long as I walk out of here knowing I played and did the best I can, that’s all that matters.”
Daly was in the group at 4 under that included former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy and defending PGA champion Keegan Bradley, who had a birdie-eagle start before he settled into his round.
Adam Scott, in his first major since throwing away the British Open with four bogeys on his last four holes, quickly got back into contention with a 68.
The group with Woods at 69 included Ben Curtis, Ryo Ishikawa of Japan and Pat Perez, playing his first major this year.
“On the windiest course in the world, you’d expect a little more wind than this,” Perez said.
The flags started to ripple in the afternoon, though not enough to make Kiawah as frightening as it can be. With so much rain over the past week, including storms that limited practice time before the championship began, the greens were soft and fairways slow.
Phil Mickelson, holding down the eighth and final spot in the Ryder Cup standings, was all over Kiawah Island and did a remarkable job scrambling to salvage a 73.
He was already eyeing Friday morning as a chance to make up some ground.
“I’m going to actually start going after it,” he said. “I figured it would be a little bit more difficult in the afternoon and to not worry about the score, to fight hard, and then the opportunity is (Friday) morning. … There will be an opportunity (Friday) to shoot something in the mid-60s.”
McIlroy was bogey-free, and while he failed to make birdie on a couple of the par 5s, he picked up a shot on the field at the 249-yard 14th hole, which features severe slopes off every corner of the green. Leave it to the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland to hit a towering 3-iron that settled 12 feet from the flag, one of only six birdies on the par 3 in the first round.
There was little doubt that Thursday might have been the best chance to post a good score. More storms are in the forecast for later in the week, and just enough wind could make it more difficult to find birdies.
“You have to have the right attitude going out there,” McIlroy said. “You have to realize that to give yourself a chance going into the final day of a major, there’s still 54 holes to play, and especially on this golf course, middles of greens are totally OK.”

Published in The Messenger 8.10.12

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