The 93rd PGA Championship began in style mid-week at Atlanta Athletic Club, Georgia. In the final major of the season shocks were aplenty as favourites Adam Scott and Darren Clarke both endured poor starts.
Steve Stricker’s success reflected the glorious weather the Championships were played in; equalling the lowest round in Major history with 63, leading by two at seven-under. Starting at the tenth, Stricker opened with three birdies in succession and continued this streak at the 260-yard par-three fifteenth and par-four eighteenth.
New Zealander Adam Scott emerged as a favourite for the golf Championship following his four-shot win at the WGC Invitational, beating England’s World Number one, Luke Donald. Along with Tiger Woods, however, Scott disappointed at par-70 with a score of 69 while Woods dropped to a seven-over 77 after three double bogeys and five bogeys. Commenting on the surprising slump after opening up with a 14-foot birdie putt on the tenth, Woods said: “I’m not down, I’m really angry.” Woods was the last player to pick up a 63 in a US PGA back in 2007.
Rory McIlroy’s dream to win a second major championship faded after a risqué shot off a tree root caused a suspected wrist sprain on the Northern Ireland favourite.
Ross Fisher redeemed his absence the week prior with an eight-footer, which was followed by a 457-yard 11th birdie. England representative and Ryder Cup player Fisher moved to two under-par, joining Americans Gary Woodland, Stewart Cink and Nick Watney who all peaked as leaders.
Current World number one Luke Donald was alongside Brian Davis ending level par on one-under, also grabbing a three at the eleventh after saving par on the previous hole. Donald pulled his drive into a bunker, coming up twenty yards short of the green, but chipped to six-feet. Just under Donald as World number two, Lee Westwood ended one-over.
American Scott Verplank finished in fourth at three-under whilst England’s Simon Dyson joined seven other players on two-under which included Italian youngster, Matteo Manassero.
Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, who finished third in the Irish Open, was the first of the European group to tee off and parred the first four holes of the back nine.