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PGA Championship: Rory McIlroy impresses as Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth struggle at Southern Hills

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Rory McIlroy set the pace in Tulsa after a five-under 65 while Jordan Spieth started his bid for the career Grand Slam with a two-over 72; Tiger Woods sits nine behind after an opening-round 74 – Watch the PGA Championship throughout the week live on Sky Sports Golf

Last Updated: 19/05/22 8:01pm

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Rory McIlroy made four birdies in a row to take the tournament lead during the first round of the PGA Championship

Rory McIlroy made four birdies in a row to take the tournament lead during the first round of the PGA Championship

Rory McIlroy ended his torrid first-round record in majors to race into the early lead on the opening day of the 104th PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

McIlroy had posted a combined 35 over par in the first round of majors since his most recent victory at the 2014 PGA Championship, including a one-over 73 at The Masters last month, only to improve that statistic by dominating his star-studded group on the opening day in Tulsa.

Rory McIlroy is chasing a fifth major victory and first since 2014

Rory McIlroy is chasing a fifth major victory and first since 2014

Playing alongside Jordan Spieth – chasing the career Grand Slam – and Tiger Woods, who won the 13th of his 15 majors when this venue last hosted the event in 2007, McIlroy pulled clear of the field and set a commanding clubhouse target with an impressive five-under 65.

Beginning on the back nine, McIlroy opened with back-to-back pars before a brilliant approach into the par-four 12th left him inches from the flag and marked the start of a run of four consecutive birdies.

Rory McIlroy made four birdies in a row to take the tournament lead during the first round of the PGA Championship

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Rory McIlroy made four birdies in a row to take the tournament lead during the first round of the PGA Championship

Rory McIlroy made four birdies in a row to take the tournament lead during the first round of the PGA Championship

McIlroy got up and down from a greenside bunker to take advantage of the par-five 13th and rolled in from 25 feet at the next, with a 10-foot birdie at the 15th lifting him into the solo lead and helping him reach the turn in 31.

The Northern Irishman holed a 15-footer at the second but missed a birdie opportunity from half the distance at the fourth, only to convert from 12 feet at the 665-yard par-five next to temporarily go three ahead.

Rory McIlroy moved to six under par with an impressive up and down for birdie on the par-5 fifth hole.

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Rory McIlroy moved to six under par with an impressive up and down for birdie on the par-5 fifth hole.

Rory McIlroy moved to six under par with an impressive up and down for birdie on the par-5 fifth hole.

McIlroy’s hopes of a ’61 round’ and the lowest in major history were ended when he missed from nine feet to save par at the sixth, before losing his outright advantage after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker on his penultimate hole.

The 32-year-old responded by nailing a 20-footer at the ninth to register a seventh birdie of the day, giving McIlroy a one-shot advantage after the morning wave over American duo Will Zalatoris – who birdied two of his last three holes – and Tom Hoge.

Rory McIlroy birdied his final hole of the day to take the lead during round one of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

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Rory McIlroy birdied his final hole of the day to take the lead during round one of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

Rory McIlroy birdied his final hole of the day to take the lead during round one of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

Matt Kuchar and Abraham Ancer both sit two off the lead and Cameron Smith recovered from a slow start to join Xander Schauffele in posting a two-under 68, while Woods and Spieth were unable to match their playing partner on the opening day after failing to build on their impressive starts.

Woods, making his first start since his long-awaited comeback at The Masters, had followed a close-range birdie on the tenth by holing from 15 feet at the 14th, only to drop a shot at the next after a poor tee shot and then post three consecutive bogeys from the 18th.

Tiger Woods birdied the 10th hole, his first, during the opening round of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

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Tiger Woods birdied the 10th hole, his first, during the opening round of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

Tiger Woods birdied the 10th hole, his first, during the opening round of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

The former world No 1 briefly stopped the rot by birdieing the third but bogeyed the next to slip further behind, before following a bogey at the 17th by taking two shots out of the rough on his way to a final-hole blemish that left him signing for a four-over 74.

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Spieth had also started strongly with a 10-foot birdie at the 12th although quickly saw his round derailed with three bogeys in a four-hole stretch from the 15th, with the three-time major champion dropping another shot when he missed from four feet at the sixth.

A 12-foot birdie at the next and clutch save from the rough at the last salvaged an opening-round 72, although Spieth has work to do if he’s to keep his hopes alive of becoming just the sixth golfer in history to complete the career Grand Slam.

Watch the PGA Championship throughout the week live on Sky Sports Golf. Live coverage continues on Friday from 1pm on Sky Sports Golf.

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