May 20, 2021
By Andrew Both
KIAWAH ISLAND, South Carolina (Reuters) – Golfers were preparing for a long, tough day as the PGA Championship got under way on Thursday at a Ocean Course which will provide the stage for the longest layout in major history.
With the wind already blowing as the sun rose on Kiawah Island early starters may have still gotten the best of the conditions with 156 golfers, including 99 of the top 100 lined up to challenge the 7,876 yards seaside monster.
Italy’s Francesco Molinari will not be among them with the 2018 British Open champion withdrawing from the tournament just before teeing off with a back injury.
Molinari’s place in the field was taken by American Brandon Hagy.
Early starter American Cameron Tringale was having few problems easing top the leaderboard at three-under through seven holes as some of big hitters were teeing off.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, fresh off his win at the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte two weeks ago, headlined a marquee threesome of Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka.
McIlroy, winner of the 2012 PGA Championship who also played at Kiawah Island, got his day off to a stumbling start with a bogey on his opening hole the 10th.
They were followed out by defending champion by Colin Morikawa, the newest major winner Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and Bryson Dechambeau, who all had pars to start their days.
Australian Masters champion Adam Scott, also playing the more difficult back nine first, had a triple bogey at the 10th while compatriot Marc Leishman was also finding the early going tough with three bogeys over his opening five holes.
(Reporting by Andrew Both, writing by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Christian Radnedge)