TULSA, Okla. ( Associated Press) – LATEST on the PGA Championship (all time local):
Rory McIlroy’s chase of his first major win since 2014 is off to a big start in the opening hole of the PGA Championship in Southern Hills.
The Northern Irishman had four consecutive birdies that put him at the top of the leaderboard at 4 under after nine holes. Playing alongside Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth in the select group of the first round, McIlroy birdied in hole number 12-15. The group debuted at number 10.
McIlroy is seeking his fifth major championship. He won the PGA in 2012 and 2014. He hasn’t led the rounds of a major championship since his 2014 victory.
Woods, playing in his second competitive tournament on his return from a car accident 15 months earlier that nearly amputated his right leg, was tied in 20th place.
Spieth, a three-time major winner, was 2 overs in search of a win that would fetch him a career Grand Slam.
The PGA Championship began with a stacked field in Southern Hills that included Tiger Woods in one of the morning specials, but there was no defending champion after Phil Mickelson withdrew last week amid scrutiny.
Woods was supposed to go in a group with Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, which is sure to pack huge crowds into every corner of the compact, recently restored Perry Maxwell Layout near Downtown Tulsa.
That trio has won 22 major championships together.
As for Mickelson, the defending PGA champion decided to extend his hiatus from competitive golf following incendiary comments about the Saudi-funded rival league, which is due to hold its first event in London next month.
Bryson DeChambeau is also missing after withdrawing on Wednesday to allow more time for his injured wrist to heal.
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