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Solid start for Lowry with 68 as Day the early leader at PGA Championship

The first round is ongoing at TPC Harding Park.

SHANE LOWRY IS three shots off the early clubhouse lead held by Australia Jason Day in the opening round of the PGA Championship.

pga-championship-golf Shane Lowry hits his tee shot on the 10th hole at TPC Harding Park. Source: Charlie Riedel

The 2019 Open Champion fired a two-under 68 as he picked up shots on his back nine with birdies on the 1st and 7th holes. Lowry only had one bogey in his round, on the 14th, and is tied for 19th after his first round.

Rory McIlroy finished level par with 70 after a mixed bag that featured three bogeys in a row on his front nine but he bounced back to be one-under after his 10th hole.

The former winner Day had five birdies and no bogeys for a one-shot lead at the TPC Harding Park course in San Francisco.

pga-championship-golf Jason Day in action at the PGA Championship. Source: Jeff Chiu

He was just in front of another former PGA champ Martin Kaymer of Germany and American Scottie Scheffler, who both shot four-under 66s.

Kaymer, who started on No. 10, got hot on his back nine making two birdies on No. 1 and No. 3 and delivering an eagle on the par-five No. 4.

Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka was also in the mix at four under in the first major championship to be held in more than a year because of the global pandemic.

The first PGA Championship on the west coast since 19888 is also being contested without spectators after the season was shutdown for three months due to the coronavirus.

Koepka, who is chasing history by trying to become the first three-peat PGA major winner in almost a century, got off to a rousing start with four birdies in the final six holes of his front nine.

He started his round on No. 10 with a bogey but rebounded quickly by making back-to-back birdies on holes 13 and 14.

He also birdied the picturesque par-four No. 18.

On 13, Koepka hit a 175-yard approach shot to six feet and then hit another 165-yard shot to just three feet on the next hole. He drained a nine foot putt on 16 for another birdie.

Tiger Woods teed off with Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas as the marquee trio all began their round with birdies on No. 10.

Thomas is competing as the No. 1 player in the world and former number one McIlroy is trying to win a major for the first time since 2014, while Woods is looking for his fifth PGA Championship title.

Woods’ 295-yard opening drive on No. 10 landed in the left rough. He wasn’t pleased with his second shot which sailed wide and left him muttering out loud to himself. But Woods was able to regroup with his third shot which stopped just six feet from the cup and made the putt for a birdie.

The trio, all either current or former world No. 1s, walked side by side down the first fairway chatting as they went. There were no spectators allowed inside the PGA bubble but a few fans could be seen pressing against the chain link fence next to a busy road cheering on the golfers. Others found rooftops to watch and take pictures from.

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Woods hit a brilliant tee shot on the par-three 11th, leaving himself with a 15 footer for birdie. His putt went just left of the pin and he tapped in for par.

On the 12th Woods had another chance at a birdie after hitting his approach shot to six feet but his putt missed right and he settled for a par.

Woods went to two under through four holes on 13 by draining a 32-foot birdie putt. He set the stage with a 284-foot tee shot down the middle.

He bogeyed the par-four 14th hole when he found the front left green side bunker.

Thomas got an early taste of Harding Park’s treacherous rough on the 12th when his tee shot missed the narrow fairway and landed in the deep grass on the right, 210 yards away.

He then bungled his approach shot, failing to reach the green and leaving it 81 yards short of the flag stick. He eventually settled for a bogey on the hole.

- Additional reporting by AFP

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