TULSA, Okla. ( Associated Press) — Tiger Woods hinted that Rory McIlroy had played a new kind of golf in the first round of the PGA Championship.
McIlroy looked released Thursday. He made it all look easy and took advantage of his opportunities at Southern Hills.
The Northern Irishman sent his driver over the trees and into the fairways, paving the way for his seven birdies and an outstanding card of 65 shots, five under par, which allowed him to take the preliminary advantage by an impact in the round.
Woods tried to choose the place where he would place the ball but it never seemed very successful. He showed problems with a right leg that he said hurts more than it did last month at the Masters.
“I just can’t support her,” Woods said. “If I do it, it hurts, if I press too and even when walking and turning it.”
His performance fell apart in the middle of the day. In the end, with two bogeys, he signed a 74.
Instead, McIlroy got what he needed as he seeks to end a nearly eight-year major drought. Many of those failures have followed bad starts.
Now, he has his best score since a 5-under 66 in 2014, when he won the PGA Championship at Valhalla, the last of his four majors.
McIlroy was asked to say whether or not this had been the start he had hoped for.
“Yes or no? No, I would rather have thrown a 74 and try to make the cut tomorrow,” she quipped. “Yeah, look, it’s been a great start. I’ve had some good form. I think when your game feels this good, it’s all about going out there, sticking to your game plan, executing to the best of your ability and staying in your own little world.”
Woods suggested that McIlroy’s round is evidence of how much golf has changed.
“The game is different. He is more aggressive now and I know it,” she commented. But I looked for my goals. If I had hit the ball solidly and put it on the fairway, everything would have been fine.”
Will Zalatoris and Tom Hoge each opened with rounds of 66, to fall one shot behind McIlroy.
Justin Thomas, who had to endure sinusitis, made one of just four birdies on the 18th hole, for a 67 card in the afternoon, when the greens suffered from traffic and, hardened, made good shots difficult.
Matt Kuchar and Mexican Abraham Ancer on that same rung, with 67.