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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 3 June, 2020

Koepka grabs command of PGA Championship as Bethpage hurts McIlroy and Woods

Koepka holds a one-shot lead over New Zealand’s Danny Lee.

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

Updated May 17th 2019, 12:07 AM

BROOKS KOEPKA MADE a mockery of the ‘extremely difficult’ warning signs around Bethpage Black as he blitzed his way to an early four-shot lead with a sublime 63 on day one of this year’s PGA Championship.

The holder of the Wanamaker Trophy went bogey-free, never looking back after birdying his first (the 1oth hole) with a sensational 40-foot putt.  He birdied either side of the turn and by the time he was through 18 holes he had posted a target of -7, with Tommy Fleetwood his closest challenger on -3 at the time.

As one of the day’s later starters, Danny Lee charged up the leaderboard with eight birdies and two bogeys to sit just one shot further back on -6.

Koepka’s display, though, drew the spotlight away from Tiger Woods. The Masters winner suffered a nightmare opening hole as he double-bogeyed the 10th and then notched a second +2 on 17 before finding a rhythm after the turn.

Woods followed up back-to-back birdies with an eagle on the fourth that brought him brilliantly under par. However, it was short-lived as he slipped back to +2 at the finish after three bogeys in his final four holes.

Rory McIlroy failed to find any sort of rhythm, while his playing partners Jason Day and Phil Mickelson picked up the pace alongside him.

The Northern Irishman finished his round on +2, managing just a single birdie on the 18th hole, as well as three bogeys along the way.

Despite having chances to get moving with his Australian and American counterparts, the 30-year-old will have to give himself every chance tomorrow to make it to the weekend eat into Koepka’s nine-stroke advantage over him.

Padraig Harrington also had an afternoon to forget. Two bogeys and a birdie from his opening nine holes seemed a respectable return for a course of this magnitude.

However, four bogeys around the turn – including consecutive dropped shots on 15 and 16 – saw his opening round collapse before him.

Graeme McDowell is safely in the clubhouse with par to his name. G-Mac made the turn after an excellent opening nine left him -1, before an up-and-down back nine brought four pars, three bogeys and two birdies.

PGA: PGA Championship - Practice Round Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

For Shane Lowry, the foreboding signs were more than credible  on a tough Thursday. The Offaly man was one under through five holes, but slipped back to +2 by the turn and his second nine brought four more bogeys split by just a birdie at the sixth.

See the full, up to date leaderboard here.

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Sean Farrell

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