ST. LOUIS: Leader Gary Woodland and many of his closest pursuers were set to tee off early as today’s second round of the 100th PGA Championship began while Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy make afternoon starts.
Woodland, who has never finished better than 12th in 27 major starts, fired a six-under-par 64 Thursday to seize a one-stroke lead over fellow American Rickie Fowler at Bellerive Country Club.
“I’ve started to feel pretty comfortable this week and it was nice to see results,” 44th-ranked Woodland said.
“I’ve been hitting the ball very well. Now when I get out of position I have the short game to give myself a chance. And to see putts go in was very, very cool.”
Woodland sank a career-high 153 feet of putts in round one and begins round two in the seventh group off the 10th tee with Spain’s Sergio Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion, and Kevin Kisner, among a pack of 11 golfers sharing fifth on 67.
Two-time major winner Zach Johnson and South African Brandon Stone, who share third on 66, will be in hot pursuit quickly. Stone was in the first group to begin on the back nine while Johnson is two groups behind Woodland.
World number one Dustin Johnson, Britain’s Justin Rose and Belgium’s Thomas Pieters are also early starters in the pack on 67.
Woods, a 14-time major champion in his comeback season after spinal fusion surgery, drew the largest crowds in a supergroup with McIlroy and second-ranked defending champion Justin Thomas. But Woods and McIlroy grinded out par 70s to share 48th place with Thomas little better on 69.
“Just hung in there. I was able to grind out a score,” Woods said. “It kept me in the golf tournament.”
They figure to command attention again as the fifth-to-last group off the first tee but moving their way up the leaderboard will be the bigger challenge on greens that were iffy even before absorbing two days of tournament punishment.
“They’re bumpy, for sure,” Woods said. “The shorter putts are a little more interesting because they’re a little chewed up.”
World number nine Fowler, this year’s Masters runner-up, has eight top-five major finishes without a victory but matched the low major round of his career with a 65.
He starts in the fifth afternoon group off the first tee with Britain’s Ian Poulter, in the group on 67, and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, another shot back.
“It was fun to feed off each other,” Fowler said of his trio’s success. “Hopefully we can do that again.” Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, ranked eighth, can complete a Career Grand Slam with a victory this week. But the 25-year-old American opened with a double bogey and shot 71 Thursday to share 62nd.
Relevant piece: American Gary Woodland, who has never cracked the top-10 in 27 major starts, fired a six-under-par 64 Thursday to grab a one-stroke lead over Rickie Fowler late in the opening round of the 100th PGA Championship.
On a day when Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy ground out level par, unlikely Woodland – who snapped a five-year PGA win drought by winning in February at Phoenix – unleashed the best-putting round of his career at Bellerive Country Club.
“When I see putts go in, that just gets me going,” Woodland said. “It’s really starting to click. I thought I was putting well. It was nice to see them go in.”
World number 44 Woodland, whose best major finishes have been shares of 12th at the 2011 PGA and 2016 British Open, sank seven birdie putts in 10 holes to pass Fowler, who matched the best major round of his career with a 65.
Ninth-ranked Fowler, twice a top-five finisher in every major, is without a win to show for it, having finished second at the Masters in April.
“I always have hope. It’s not something I necessarily worry about,” Fowler said. “Keep putting ourselves in position, get in contention. We’ll just keep beating down that door.”
Woodland, 34, opened with a bogey but closed the front nine with back-to-back birdies then sank a 44-foot birdie putt at the par-4 11th and added 23-foot birdie putts at 12 and the par-3 16th.
At the par-5 17th, Woodland dropped his approach three feet from the cup and tapped in for a birdie to seize the lead, then closed with a par.
“It was nice to get the jitters over early,” Woodland said. “I really settled in. I played great all day.”
Woods, a 14-time major champion making a comeback after spinal fusion surgery, battled back all day to overcome a bogey-double bogey start.
“It kept me in the golf tournament,” Woods said. “I could have easily gone the other way, but I hung in there and turned it around.”
The 42-year-old American battled back with birdie putts from four feet at 18, nine feet at the first and eight feet at the par-5 eighth.
“Just hung in there. I was trying to chip away at it, pick away at it,” Woods said. “I was able to grind out a score today.”
Four-time major champion McIlroy found a bunker at 10 and made bogey, then sank birdie putts at 11 13, but made bogey at 18 and parred in from there.
“It wasn’t that easy out there,” said McIlroy. “I gave myself a few chances. I finished off with nine pars. It could have been a little better.”
Fowler, a back-nine starter, found 11 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in regulation. He birdied 14 but landed in a bunker at the par-3 16th and made bogey, then bounced back with a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-5 17th, a 14-footer at the first and six-footer at the third.
Fowler followed with a 31-foot birdie putt at the par-4 seventh hole and blasted from a bunker to eight feet to birdie the par-5 eighth.
“I’m definitely happy about the start and we’ll see if we can keep that rolling,” Fowler said. “I kept it very stress-free. Just play within me.”
South African Brandon Stone, who won July’s Scottish Open, shot 66 to share third with US two-time major winner Zach Johnson.
“The game felt really good,” Stone said. “Just tried to stay calm and I made a few great putts.”
Johnson saved par at 17 from a bunker and dropped his 155-yard approach two feet from the cup to set up a closing birdie.
“That was big at 17 and then I had the right distance at 18,” Johnson said.
Among those in a pack on 67 was Britain’s Ian Poulter, who birdied three of his first six holes in quest of his first major title.
“I got off to a flying start,” Poulter said. “It was a good day. I feel pretty comfortable.”
Also on 67 was Australian Jason Day, the 2015 PGA winner who birdied two of the last three holes.
“I’m very happy with how things progressed out there,” Day said. “It’s always nice to get a round in like this, start your week knowing that you’re in the right direction.”
Wasim Akram to establish a cricket academy
KARACHI: Wasim Akram today announced the establishment of Wasim Akram Cricket Academy in DHA Multan.
Addressing a presser at a local hotel here, he said that the state-of-the-art Wasim Akram Cricket Academy will be equipped with all requisite facilities including a multipurpose building, pavilion/seating area, outdoor practice nets (6-8 pitches), administrative facilities including grounds men workshop and other sports facilities like squash courts, swimming pool etc.
“My purpose is to train and nurture the young talent and this academy will be breeding ground for Pakistan’s National team. I intend turning this academy into our national team’s camp before proceeding abroad for matches. We will lay the top of the lines pitches like Perth, Melbourne etc to train them,” said Wasim Akram.
Sharing details of the country’s first Championship Signature 18 holes golf course, he said “Currently Pakistan has been unable to register its presence on International standard golf courses and coaching facilities for talented young golfers. I am very happy after knowing that DHA Multan aims to address both shortcomings.” He expressed the hope that Rumanza Golf Course will be an avenue to flourish the game by nurturing the young talent of the country to be able to compete at international levels.
Wasim Akram apprised that the ground breaking ceremony of Rumanza was held on 22nd November 2018 in DHA Multan where golf course architect Sir Nick Faldo, number of foreign consultants engaged for the golf course and representatives of Desert Group UAE responsible for the construction of the course were present. He said that Rumanza would be managed and operated by Troon Golf, which is managing over 300 golf courses across the globe.
60-million-to-one shot! Club golfer bags two holes-in-one
MELBOURNE: An Australian club golfer has defied odds of more than 60-million-to-one to shoot two holes-in-one in a single round on a course in Melbourne, local media reported today.
Jim Grant said he missed seeing his first ace go in on the 11th at the Green Acres Golf Club in the suburb of Kew because he was chatting with playing partners, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
“I hit a lovely 8-iron up and I thought the ball was getting close and I turned to the fellas to say ‘I think this is going to go close’ and they were all jumping up and down,” he told the ABC. “I kind of missed it going in.”
But he had another bite of the cherry just six holes later at the 17th, a 180-meter (196-yard) par three with a bunker guarding the front left of the green.
“We jumped for joy and whooped a bit. It was quite amazing,” he said, adding that he had used a 5-iron. The odds of an amateur golfer carding a hole-in-one are around 12,500-1, according to insurance companies. And the odds of two holes-in-one in the same round are quoted at roughly 67-million-to-one, though mathematicians can disagree on the exact figure because of the variables involved.
It is not clear whether Grant bought two rounds of drinks for everyone at the clubhouse afterward – one for each of his aces.
Ronaldo denies attack accusation, calls rape ‘abominable crime’
LAS VEGAS: Cristiano Ronaldo today categorically denied accusations by a former model who says the soccer star raped her in a Las Vegas hotel penthouse suite in 2009.
“I firmly deny the accusations being issued against me,” tweeted the 33-year-old, who plays for Juventus in Italy’s Serie A. “Rape is an abominable crime that goes against everything that I am and believe in.”
“My clear conscious (sic) will thereby allow me to wait with tranquility the results of any and all investigations,” he added.
Las Vegas police reopen investigation into Kathryn Mayorga's 2009 rape accusation against Cristiano Ronaldo, who has now issued a formal statement.
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 3, 2018