TULSA, OKLAHOMA – Rory McIlroy opened with a 5-under 65 and will take a one-shot lead into Friday’s second round of the 2022 PGA Championship.
The 33-year-old Northern Irishman, who started his round on the 10th hole at Southern Hills, got off to a hot start, reeling off four-straight birdies on Nos. 12-15, to turn on 4 under par. On his homeward nine, McIlroy mixed two bogeys with three birdies including a final-hole gain to reach 5-under par.
“I think just happy with when you get off to a good start like that, sometimes you can maybe start to be a little careful or start to give yourself a little more margin for error, but I stuck to my game plan,” said McIlroy.
“I stayed aggressive, hit that driver up 4, took an aggressive line on 5. Yeah, I stuck to what I was trying to do out there, which I was pleased with.
“Then if anything obviously the two bogeys on the par-3s on the front nine, but it’s very easy to make bogeys out here. You get yourself just a little bit out of position, you catch a little bit of grain around the green, it’s tricky.
“I didn’t encounter too many of those tricky scenarios today, but it can certainly be tricky. You get yourself out of position here, you just try to make a 4 or a par and run to the next.”
One shot back was Will Zalatoris, who signed for a scorecard featuring two bogeys against six birdies, including two gains on his final three holes to reach 4 under par.
“It’s super fun whenever you have days like that,” said Zalatoris.
“I think I either made four or five 25-footers. It was kind of a bizarre day. I didn’t drive it great early and then drove it nicely at the end, but I think all six of my birdies came from the rough today, which is just very bizarre.
“I’m very pleased with today, obviously. Anytime you can put up a 66 in a major, you’re obviously happy.”
The Texan was tied for the second spot with Tom Hoge.
A group of three players were one further back on 3 under 67, including 2017 PGA champion Justin Thomas, whose day was highlighted by a bogey-free closing nine punctuated by a birdie on the final hole.
“Yeah, I’d call any birdie on 18 a steal,” said Thomas. “It’s a hole that you would beginning of the week gladly take four pars on and probably lap the field quite a bit.
“To finish the day with a 3 there was a great bonus and a nice end to a solid fight out there.”
Matt Kuchar and Abraham Ancer were the others in the T4 group alongside Thomas.
Joaquin Niemann, Xander Schauffele and Cameron Smith headlined a group of nine more players one further back on 2-under 68.
Eleven more players were one further back on 1 under 69, including Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson and Tony Finau.
Major winners Shane Lowry, Francesco Molinari and Gary Woodland were joined by Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton and Max Homa as headliners in a logjam at even-par 70.
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler was among another logjam of 17 players at 1-over par 71, one clear of fellow Texan Jordan Spieth, who opened with a 2-over 72.
Tiger Woods struggled to a 4-over par 74.
2022 PGA Championship
Top-10 Leaders: Round One
Pos-Player-To Par (Score)
1. Rory McIlroy -5 (65)
2. Will Zalatoris -4 (66)
2. Tom Hoge -4 (66)
4. Justin Thomas -3 (67)
4. Matt Kuchar -3 (67)
4. Abraham Ancer -3 (67)
7. Matt Fitzpatrick -2 (68)
7. Lucas Herbert -2 (68)
7. Joaquin Niemann -2 (68)
7. Chris Kirk -2 (68)
7. Mito Pereira -2 (68)
7. Xander Schauffele -2 (68)
7. Cameron Smith -2 (68)
7. Kevin Na -2 (68)
7. Davis Riley -2 (68)