Rory McIlroy struggles to make gains in US PGA Championship first round

Rory McIlroy struggles to make gains in US PGA Championship first round

Rory McIlroy was unable to hide his frustration after making a slow start to the 105th US PGA Championship.

Following a delay of almost two hours due to overnight frost, Oak Hill member McIlroy failed to register a birdie as he covered his opening nine holes in three over par.

Starting from the 10th, McIlroy began his bid for a first major title since the 2014 US PGA with five straight pars before badly mishitting his tee shot on the par-three 15th to find a bunker 30 yards short of the pin.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the 12th hole during the first round of the US PGA Championship (Eric Gay/AP)

McIlroy hit a good bunker shot to nine feet but was unable to convert the par putt and also failed to get up and down from sand on the 17th, before taking a swipe at the tee marker on the 18th following another errant drive.

A third bogey of the day dropped McIlroy six shots off the early lead shared by 2011 US PGA champion Keegan Bradley, Sahith Theegala and Japan’s Kazuki Higa, who had earlier carded four birdies in a row from the 11th.

Play had been scheduled to get under way at 7am local time (1200 BST), but predictions of cold conditions overnight were accurate.

Tournament organisers released a statement early on Thursday morning which read: “Due to frost, all Oak Hill Country Club practice facilities and the golf course are currently closed.

“To protect playing surfaces, everyone on-site must stay off any grass and gates will not open until the frost clears.”

With the temperature slowly rising, officials announced the first group would tee off at 0850 from the first and five minutes later from the 10th, a total delay of one hour and 50 minutes.

The possibility of weather delays had been on the cards since the US PGA was moved from August to May in 2019, with Oak Hill having already been selected as this year’s venue.

Justin Suh
Justin Suh hits from the fairway on the second hole during a practice round for the PGA Championship at Oak Hill (Abbie Parr/AP)

Speaking on Tuesday, the PGA of America’s chief championships officer Kerry Haigh said: “Wherever the championship is (in May) appears as though it will bring some more variety to the weather than we’re used to having when we played in August.

“There is the possibility of a frost again on Thursday morning. We had a frost Tuesday morning. We had a couple of frosts last week. That may delay the start. Hopefully it won’t. But if it does, we’ll adapt.

“We’ve got the chance of rain on Saturday and hopefully clear on Sunday. That’s sort of the fun of golf. It’s an outdoor game and we can’t wait to see what Mother Nature brings as well.”