Tiger Woods returns to major action with a first-round 77 at the Atlanta Athletic Club, while Rory McIlroy plays through the pain of an injured wrist and Steve Stricker shoots 63.
2050: Here’s some more Tiger Woods reaction, on how he struggles when he stops concentrating on his swing thoughts: “I can’t just go out there and play and let it go and just play by feel and see the shot, hit the shot, feel it and I’m not at that point yet. It’s frustrating, because my shots don’t shape like they used to. It’s hard for me right now to aim closer to flags or closer to where I want the ball to end up. I thought I was beyond that.”
2045: McIlroy grimaces after his drive on the eighth. Looks like he’s still in pain, but the ball lands nicely in the fairway.
2040: England’s Simon Dyson has been in good form of late, winning the Irish Open, and is one under after five following a birdie on the 10th, his first hole.
2030: McIlroy birdies the sixth to get back to one under, despite his wrist problems. Aussie hotshot Jason Day picks up a second birdie in five holes to go to two under. The 23-year-old was second at both the Masters and US Open, of course. Also fourth at the WGC last week and certainly one to watch in Atlanta. Westwood back to level par with a birdie at the fifth, while his mate Darren Clarke, playing with McIlroy, is one over.
2021: Another physio turns up to see McIlroy. He does some more strenous pulling and stretching of the McIlroy right wrist. The Northern Irishman swallows some pills and carries on. In golf news, former champion Shaun Micheel and ex Masters winner Trevor Immelman climb to three under after seven and four holes respectively.
2015: Chat over, McIlroy steps into the bunker and splashes his ball out to about a foot. Would suggest the physio reckons it’s not too serious. He taps in for birdie and that’s back to level par. So the US Open champion still fighting for now.
2010: A physio has joined up with McIlroy and they are testing his range of movement and trying to ascertain exactly where the pain is.
2005: McIlroy hits his second on the fifth and takes his hand off the club again. He finds a bunker but walks after it. Seems to be carrying on for now. Lee Westwood, meanwhile, dropped a shot at the third with a poor putt – despite his work with mind guru Bob Rotella – but steadies the ship with a par at the fourth
1957: McIlroy tries to get his tee in with his right hand but swaps to his left. He swings ok, but takes his right hand off at the end and grimaces. The ball goes up the middle, mind. He picks the tee up with his left hand, too.
1955: Rory McIlroy pars the short fourth but is chatting to partner Darren Clarke on the green with the ice pack clamped back on his right wrist. The drive down the fifth could be decisive. Muted calls from the crowd of “hang in there, Rory” are met with a strangled “thank you” from McIlroy.
1953: Here’s Tiger Woods’s thoughts on that dreadful opening 77: “I’m not down, I’m really angry. There are a lot of words I could use beyond that.” Apparently, over the opening stretch he had focused on swing thoughts, but had then abandoned that to “let it go” and could not regroup.
1950: McIlroy in discussion with rules officials about whether he can get his nine iron repaired after he dinged it on the root. But more serious matters for young Rory – on his follow-through on the fourth tee he drops the club and winces in pain, shaking his wrist. Walking up to the green he wraps his arm up again in the ice pack and seems to be carrying on. For now.
1945: Evening all. I’ll take you through the next stint in Atlanta. If you refresh your page you’ll see my name at the top. And the first action to bring you is the news that Jerry Kelly is home in 65, two off the lead of Steve Stricker.
By Ben Dirs
1939: McIlroy was given the option of taking a 10-minute break but has decided to have a go at it… tree about five feet ahead, maybe he should just bunt it out, but he’s going to try to bend it in… good contact, but more importantly there doesn’t seem to be a reaction to that wrist injury. Ice pack on it as he strolls down the fairway, he needs to get up and down for bogey.
1935: Looks like McIlroy’s rubbered his wrist playing off the top of that root – rolling his wrist around before calling for ice. Suggestions here that he might not be out there for much longer. As if it couldn’t get any worse, it transpires a kid picked his ball up… we’ll see how bad that wrist is after this next shot…
1931: Dustin’s birdie putt refuses to drop at the fourth and he stays level par. Fowler taps in for par at four to stay two over. McIlroy’s in all sorts of bother, trying to skim one off the top of some dusty stuff and through the trees at the third… the ball ricochets way up in the ear, his club goes flying and he could have done some serious mischief there. Perhaps he should have taken his medicine and played out sideways…
1925: Westwood with his second at the second and he’s right into the guts of the green. Fowler bends his second into the heart of the green at four, he’s made a stuttering start to be +2 after three.
1918: Casey can’t get anything going on the greens, another chance goes at the ninth and he’s in with a two-over 72. Stricker for a record-breaking round of 62 from 15 feet at nine… misses by a couple of inches to the right, he becomes the 23rd man to card a 63 in a major, there have been 26 63s in all. Clarke with a pokey little effort at two and that’s a shot gone. Yang for birdie from eight feet at four and he drains it to get to -1. Schwartzel make his birdie putt at two to get to -1, McIlroy’s kicked off with two straight pars.
1911: Ernie Els is level after two, as is playing partner Anthony Kim. Tiger Woods, by the way, is tied for 100th now, out of 111 men who have been out on the course. Charley Hoffman nails an eagle at 12 to get to two under, Garcia looking handy with the long clubs today, everything arrow-like so far and he’s safely on in two at the third. Jason Day, the Aussie who looks like he could be ‘a next great thing’, rattles in a birdie at the first. Clarke from bang centre at the second and he’s into the heart with a seven iron. Schwartzel to within a few feet with an eight… Westwood with a great saver at the first after a ropey old tee shot, that will settle the old nerves…
1859: Schwartzel played a crackerjack seven iron out of the sand at one but he only makes par. Triple for Noren at 15, back to -1 goes the Swede. Clarke’s birdie attempt lips out at one – he’s sweating so much, I’m surprised he hasn’t got a frothy head on him. McIlroy’s makeable birdie attempt does too much but that’s a handy saver coming back. Stricker on tee at nine, his 18th – easy, willowy swing, misses the fairway just left.
1856: Kaymer bends in his birdie putt at two to get into the red, Jerry Kelly makes birdies at five and six to get to -5 and two off the lead. England’s Paul Casey is having a real old ding-dong with the Atlanta Athletic – two birdies, a bogey and a double coming home, he’s +2 after 16. McIlroy with his second at the first – stiffs it to within a few feet, between him and his playing partners, they’ve got the pin surrounded. The wheels have come off Noren’s juggernaut – bogey at 14 and he’s found drink at the par-three 15th. Looks like a triple coming up… Stricker for birdie at seven, his 16th… shaves it right…
1848: Jimenez lets one go at the par-four sixth and drops back to -1. Davis of London drops just one shot at 18 and is in with a very commendable 69. We have our three major champions on tee – Masters champion Charl Schwartzel finds sand with a three wood; Rory McIlroy finds the short stuff; Darren Clarke – who has already changed his shirt – yanks his tee shot into some trees. I’ll bet anyone a tenner he doesn’t make the cut this week…
1840: Dustin’s recovery at the first lips out, he should make par. Correction – Woods has gone higher in a first round of a major, he carded an 81 at Muirfield in 2001. Garcia with a total mis-read at the first… here’s Stricker from the back of the green at seven – good speed, he should make par. Kaymer made par at the first but he’s in some cabbage off the tee at two – what a shot, bending one in to within eight feet.
1837: Stricker rattles in his par putt at the sixth to stay on target for the lowest round in major history – it currently stands at 63. Conversely, that was Tiger’s highest ever first round at a major. Jim Furyk has slipped down the rankings this year but he’s grinding things out today, the 2003 US Open champion is +1 through 16. Garcia right over the stick with his second at the first, Johnson overcooks his. The final four holes at the Atlanta Athletic Club is like negotiating a house of horrors – Davis finds the wet stuff with his second at 18.
1830: Donaldson has come out swinging after being broadsided by a double and a triple at 12 and 13 – birdie at 14, back to +4. Woods was in two lakes and 11 bunkers today, which is all you need to know. Dustin Johnson, who knows all about contending in majors, is safely away at the first; fellow American Rickie Fowler finds the white stuff; Sergio Garcia, who first came to the world’s attention with his duel with Tiger at the 1999 PGA, rips his drive down there. Davis Love in with a 68, Kaymer goes close with a sand escape at the first…
1826: No fairytales this week for ‘Long’ John Daly – the 1991 winner, when he was ninth and final alternate – has made five bogeys and a double to be +7 with three to play. Stockport’s David Horsey, playing in his second PGA (he tied for 28th last year), has kicked off with two bogeys. Darren Clarke is leaking like a sieve and he hasn’t played a shot yet – it’s seriously hot out there in Atlanta. Stricker from miles out at five and he should pop in for par. Woods lets another one go at the last, his par effort missing by an inch, and he’s in with a very ordinary 77. Tiger was making a lot of positive sounds ahead of this event, wouldn’t want to be the person asking questions after that round…
1819: Stricker isn’t playing the same course as the rest, certainly not Tiger Woods – Stricker rolls in a five-footer at five to get to seven under before wrestling his drive down the sixth. Here’s Kaymer, the defending champion. on the first tee – through some branches but it ends up on the short stuff. Yang with the big stick and he muscles one down there. Here’s Alex Noren with a long-ranger for birdie at 13 – just short, but he stays -5 and two off the lead.
1814: Here’s Steve Stricker from sand at the par-five fifth – stiffs it to within a few feet. England’s Brian Davis birdies 16 to get into a tie for fourth. Defending champion Martin Kaymer of Germany off in a couple of minutes, with previous year’s winner YE Yang and 2003 champion Shaun Micheel. Donald in with a handy level-par 70, not bad at all round this course, it’s a brute.
1808: England’s Casey has gone bogey, double-bogey at three and four to drop back to +3. There are elephant traps all over this course – Welshman Jamie Donaldson looked to be going along very nicely indeed and has just made double, triple at 12 and 13 to disappear down the leaderboard on five over. Noren of Sweden has just made eagle at the par-five 12th and is now just one behind leader Stricker.
1803: Former Open champion Stewart Cink, the man who killed Bambi at Turnberry a few years back, is in with a one-under 69. Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge has gone one better, while Englishman Ross Fisher has carded a 71. He’ll think that could have been better after birdieing four of the first five holes. World number one Donald has birdied six and eight and is now level with one to play.
1757: Only two Scots in the field this week – Martin Laird is +1 after 15, Stephen Gallacher is in with a 74. Young Ishikawa – oft-tipped for major glory in the future – will have to put this one down to experience. He’s in with a 15-over 85, a score that included five doubles, two bogeys and one triple. Judging by the other scores, I’m not sure this course is that difficult, although it doesn’t strike me as being easy either. Then again, I can’t really comment, I haven’t seen any pictures yet.
1748: Australia’s Adam Scott, coming off that win in Ohio last week, finished bogey-bogey but is still in with a one-under round of 69. Gary Woodland, the longest hitter on tour and a man who could probably out-launch you or I with a stick of rhubarb, is in with a 70. Jimenez is chiselling out his traditional solid start to a major, the 47-year-old is two under after 12. Tiger had birdied the fifth – and followed up with a double at six. The extremely former number one is six over with three to play and tied for 68th.
1740: Manassero of Italy is our clubhouse leader, the 18-year-old is in with a 68 – which, given the travails of Woods (+5) and Ishikawa (+15) looks like a pretty handy marker to me. England’s world number one Luke Donald lets a shot go at six, but he remains under par with three to play. Jamie Donaldson , the only Welshman in the field, is grinding out a solid round – a late alternate, the 35-year-old is level through 11.
1731: Tiger Woods very much a thoroughbred struck lame at the moment – he came out of the stalls as slick as catsick on linoleum but is currently in freefall. Another bogey at four, he’s five over after 13, which makes him tied for 65th out of 78 players on the course. Another birdie at 10 for Stricker, he’s now six under and leads Sweden’s Alex Noren and American Jerry Kelly by three.
1723: Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez is putting together a copper-bottomed round – so far. Jimenez, the only man in golf who works out while tugging on a Havana, is one under after 10. English pair Poulter and Casey are one under after 11 and nine respectively – not a lot of chat about them going into this tournament, which might be a good thing.
1718: Londoner Brian Davis birdies 12 to move to two under – he knows all about playing on classic American set-ups, he’s been plying his trade on the PGA Tour for a few years now. Bubba Watson was four under at one point but the wheels have come off round the turn – four bogeys on the spin between 18 and three and he’s back to level.
1713: World number six Phil Mickelson, a former PGA champion, has two birdies and two bogeys on his card and is level par after 14. South Korea’s KJ Choi is two under par after 10 courtesy of birdies at 13, 16 and one. Stricker out in five under, he now leads Scott, Haas and Kelly by two.
1701: Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa nearly won the WGC event in Ohio last week – he won’t be in the running in Georgia. The world number 40 has had five double bogeys, a bogey and a triple bogey and is 15 over after 15. Let’s hope he makes a birdie at the last or he might think about packing it all in. It’s not getting much better for three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, the Irishman is three over through 11.
1654: Matteo Manassero, the 18-year-old Italian, is one under with three holes to play. English pair Ross Fisher and Brian Davis are one under after 13 and 11 respectively, Northern Irish major-winning pair Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke are due out at 1845 BST. Oh, and Tiger Woods, the world number 30, who was three under through five, is now four over through 11 – a run of double bogey, bogey, par, double bogey, bogey, bogey between 15 and two. This boy ain’t want he used to be…
1641: The Sphynx-like Steve Stricker is our early leader – the world number five, who started out on the 10th, is four under through eight. In fact, the top of the leaderboard has a classically-PGA look about it, with fellow Americans Bubba Watson, Jerry Kelly and Bill Haas joint second on three under. England’s world number one Luke Donald is two under through 11, while Australia’s Adam Scott, winner of last week’s WGC event in Ohio, also two under through 14.
1630: Afternoon, or whatever it is where you are, and welcome to our coverage of the year’s final major – the US PGA Championship from the Atlanta Athletic Club, Georgia. I’m working from a leaderboard for the first 90 minutes, so be very gentle with me. Or I could just make a load of stuff up? News filtering through that Tiger Woods and Steve Williams have agreed to an arm-wrestle in the clubhouse after their rounds in an attempt to sort everything out…