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US PGA Championship

Kevin Kisner and Thorbjorn Olesen lead by one at PGA Championship as Jordan Spieth laments putting woes

Duo open with first rounds of four-under 67 at Quail Hollow, with US Open champion Brooks Koepka in a group leading the chase at the year’s final major

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 10:15am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 10:29am

Thorbjorn Olesen and Kevin Kisner matched each other with long, curling birdies at the final hole to share a one-stroke lead as Jordan Spieth slipped five strokes off the pace after the first round of the PGA Championship.

On a day when many of the favourites started well, Dane Olesen and American Kisner carded rounds of four-under 67, one better than a group including US Open champion Brooks Koepka on a Quail Hollow course that bared its teeth despite a mere zephyr of a breeze.

“The first 15 holes, especially, I was driving the ball very, very well, and that made it a bit easier,” said world number 78 Olesen, who is a four-time European Tour winner.

“Coming in with some short irons into these greens was definitely the key to the round. I felt like I gave myself a lot of opportunities, and it was a very, very nice way to finish with that long putt.”

Spieth, at 24, seeking to become the youngest man to complete the career grand slam after winning the British Open last month, struggled on the newly-grassed greens and needed two late birdies to salvage a 72.

“I can’t putt any worse than I did today,“ said the Texan. “I don’t think I missed any short putts today. I just had really poor speed on my long ones.”

Pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy also laboured to a 72 after finding water with his tee shot at the driveable par-four 14th.

Soft fairways and rock-hard, ultra-fast greens yielded some major casualties, none more so than five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, whose 79 was his highest ever score in 95 rounds at the PGA Championship.

Olesen’s 25-footer at the par-four 18th was no less impressive than the closing birdie by Kisner, whose sharply-breaking 20-footer tracked in dead centre.

“There are about four or five holes I have to birdie to compete and I birdied them all today,” said South Carolinian Kisner.

Among the big names who hit the ground running, American Dustin Johnson, Japanese Hideki Matsuyama, Spaniard Jon Rahm and Australian Jason Day all carded opening rounds of 70.

“This is a really good start,” said world number three Matsuyama, who birdied his final three holes, including a 50-footer at the last that he called a ‘bonus’.

McIlroy lamented his poor tee shot that led to the double-bogey, but was even more disappointed to duff his chip.

“I still could have made a par ... I just didn’t execute it properly,” said the Northern Irishman.