Golf’s second Major of the year got underway on Thursday.
It was a mixed day for the Irish as Canada’s Corey Conners took the lead on five-under, two shots cleared of a bunched leaderboard below him.
US PGA Irish challenge – Padraig Harrington.
Harrington seemed to enjoy the links-style golf course and tough conditions, having won the World Cup at the course with Paul McGinley in 1997.
The three-time Major winner had won this event in 2008 and got himself to two-under heading into the final few holes of his round.
With a notorious tough finish in Thursday’s wind direction, the 49-year-old did well to get up and down from the bunker on 14 and 15 before a disappointing bogey on 16.
Nevertheless, it was a solid round of 71, and puts the European Ryder Cup captain in contention heading into Friday.
US PGA Irish challenge – Shane Lowry.
Lowry had a mixed round, catching some bad breaks coming in to shoot 73 and one-over for his round, leaving him still in contention, albeit a couple of more shots back than he would have liked.
He saved his worst luck for the Par 3 17th where his tee shot finished plugged in a sandy area. As the sandy areas are not officially bunkers this week, they do not have to be raked and can lead to player’s catching unfortunate lies.
A rules official was called in as the Offaly man figured out whether he could rake the bunker he wanted to hit his ball into.
Having initially said yes, after a long discussion the official decided he couldn’t and the 2019 Open champion went on to chip the ball into the bunker below, hoping not to be in a footprint.
His lie was fine and he hit his following shot on the green but about 30-feet from the hole, and would subsequently make a double bogey which put him on two-over.
The 34-year-old finished with an incredible birdie on 18 to keep himself within touching distance of the lead.
🗣 "Goodness me, that's not ideal!" 😱
— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) May 20, 2021
US PGA Irish challenge – Rory McIlroy.
McIlroy disappointed most out of the Irish challenge, shooting three-over for his round.
The four-time Major winner inexplicably hit his first tee shot on 10 into the water, opening with a bogey.
While he hung on throughout his round, it always seemed he was fighting his game and a level par first nine was followed by three-over coming in.
The former world number one bogeyed three of the four Par 5s to shoot a 75 and leave himself eight shots off the lead.
However, he is still six back from second place and cannot be ruled out heading into Friday.
Leaderboard after Round 1 at the #PGAChamp:
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 21, 2021