CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) – Thorbjorn Olesen and Kevin Kisner matched each other with long, curling birdies at the final hole to share a one-stroke lead as Jordan Spieth slipped five strokes off the pace after the first round of the PGA Championship on Thursday.
On a day when many of the favourites started well, Dane Olesen and American Kisner carded four-under 67, one better than a group including U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka on a Quail Hollow course that bared its teeth despite a mere zephyr of a breeze.
Spieth, at 24, seeking to become the youngest man to complete the career grand slam after winning the British Open last month, struggled on the newly-grassed greens and needed two late birdies to salvage a 72.
Pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy also laboured to a 72 after finding water with his tee shot at the drivable par-four 14th.
Soft fairways and rock-hard, ultra-fast greens yielded some major casualties, none more so than five-times major winner Phil Mickelson, whose 79 was his highest ever score in 95 rounds at the PGA Championship.
Among the big names who hit the ground running, American Dustin Johnson, Japanese Hideki Matsuyama, Spaniard Jon Rahm and Australian Jason Day all carded 70.