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Luke Donald must be hearing footsteps, as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy try to overtake the Englishman and climb into first place in the world golf rankings.
The first round of the 2012 PGA Championship is in the books and a number of big names are near the top of the leaderboard.
Adam Scott had a strong first round, shooting a 4-under 68 to finish in a tie for sixth place. He is two strokes behind the lead. Scott trails Rory McIlroy, who is currently in second place, by one stroke. McIlroy shot a 5-under 67 Thursday and finds himself in a four-way tie for second. Tiger Woods is also lurking near the top of the leaderboard, three strokes behind at 3-under.
While those three played well in the first round, a few other notable players will need strong second rounds to avoid missing the weekend. Luke Donald, the current No. 1 player in the world, is 2-over after one round and currently one stroke below the projected cut line of 1-over. Webb Simpson, who won the 2012 U.S. Open, will have even more work to do Friday as he will try to makeup ground after shooting a 7-over 79 on Thursday.
For a live leaderboard, visit Golf.com.
The wind has picked up a bit for the Thursday afternoon wave at Kiawah Island, but good scoring conditions remain as the second half of the field tries to chase down the low numbers posted during the morning. Adam Scott is one of those players in red figures as he makes his way through the back nine.
Scott is, of course, trying to rebound from that devastating collapse down the stretch at Lytham. He's tried to put a positive spin on it all week, saying that those first 68 holes at the Open Championship were probably the best golf he's played in his life. It seems to be working, and his solid form has held at The Ocean Course. Scott is 3-under through 14 holes, carding birdies at the holes you have to get on this Pete Dye classic -- the (relatively) easier first two holes and the par-5s.
Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano is also making a charge in the afternoon, posting a 67 to open his week along the Atlantic Ocean to sit at 5-under, one shot back of leader Carl Pettersson. He had a birdie putt stop just short of the hole on No. 18 to remain one shot off the pace. For many, Fernandez-Castano is only known as the player who mildly called out Tiger Woods in advance of their match at the WGC-Accenture Match Play event. But he's still one of the best players in the world, capable of winning the season's final major.
Phil Mickelson's struggles persist, as the lefty has had yet another up-and-down round. Mickelson went on a few expeditions through the dunes and waste areas that line the fairways. At one point, it even appeared like he may have injured his hand trying to chop one out and get back on the paspalum. He has carded three bogeys and three birdies so far to stand at even-par through 13 holes. The toughest stretch of the course awaits, however, and Mickelson will have to avoid big numbers on the 13th and 14th to try and keep his round together.
For a live leaderboard, visit Golf.com.
John Daly has been a fan favorite since he won the PGA Championship in 1991. Count Tiger Woods among the many admirers of Long John, who posted a 4-under 68 in Thursday’s opening round of this year's version of the PGA Tour's final major of the season.
“When I came on Tour, he was great,” Woods told reporters after scoring a 69 in his up-and-down first round. “We had lunch, we played practice rounds. He's always been great to me over the years. I have always rooted for him. I have always been a John Daly fan and a friend.”
Woods recalled that the friendship between the two began 23 years ago in Texarkana, Arkansas. Indeed, Tiger, who has an eidetic memory when it comes to all things golf, remembered Daly using a Ping 4- or 5-iron to blast a ProMax golf ball out of bounds on uphill, down-grain par-5.
“He hit it solid right in the middle of the green. I've never seen anybody hit the ball that hard,” Woods said. “A flush shot, granted, it's a little balata base, but still, not too often you hit a 4‑iron or 5‑iron and [he] went right in the middle of the green and took it out of play, roped.”
As for his most recent round, Daly said he had been building up to a strong performance for much of the season.
“I played solid in Canada except for one hole,” Daly said of his T48 finish at last month’s Canadian Open. “Qatar [at February’s Qatar Masters] I finished in fourth, just gave me a little bit of confidence.
“Like I said, when I get on a run, six, seven, eight weeks in a row, I feel like I have a better chance at playing well,” he added. “It's starting to pay off a little bit, but that's if you're making cuts. I always believe when you're making cuts, it gives you a chance to get some confidence in your game. So I'm getting a lot of confidence, but I'm just hitting the ball solid.”
Daly, who plays frequently on the European Tour but hoped to get his PGA Tour card back, started the week at No. 149 on the money list. He must jump to within the top 125 to achieve his objective.
“My goal would be to be back on our tour, no doubt,” said Daly.
In case you tuned in late and can’t believe you witnessed Tiger Woods, Keegan Bradley, and many other contestants in this week’s PGA Championship taking practice swings, picking up pieces of lint, and grounding their clubs in the sand, the PGA Tour implores you: put down the phone!
Much has been made of the fact that the PGA has eliminated the possibility of another Dustin Johnson-like brain cramp on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island by adopting a local rule that defines all “sandy areas” as waste bunkers. Had that been the case in 2010, when DJ rested his club on what he assumed was a trampled down patch of dirt on the PGA Championship’s final hole at Whistling Straits, he would have qualified for a spot in a three-hole playoff with Bubba Watson and eventual winner Martin Kaymer.
Despite his mishap, the determination to play the Pete Dye course this week without any sand hazards was not a knee-jerk reaction to Johnson’s costly error. In fact, it was in keeping with other tournaments that Kiawah Island has hosted, including the 1991 Ryder Cup matches, the 2005 PGA Club Pro, and the 2007 Senior PGA Championship.
The PGA even trotted TNT analyst Billy Kratzert out to the course to offer a primer on the rules in hopes of forestalling any twitchy Twitterati from blasting out tweets and jamming the phone lines. Kratzert’s message, essentially, was that players may remove shells, practice swings, and touch their clubs behind their balls without punishment.
“So when you see players in the bunker...grounding their club,” Kratzert intoned, “do not pick up that phone and call in; it’s not an infraction.”
As the afternoon tee-times at the 2012 PGA Championship are just about completely on the course, impressive golf enthusiast Graeme McDowell has already reached red numbers and is slowly climbing the leaderboard of another major championship.
McDowell currently sits at 2-under par early in his opening round and four shots behind current leader Carl Pettersson (6-under). McDowell started his round by recording a birdie on his opening hole, followed by another at no. 3 at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course.
Golf fans will note that McDowell has played in the final Sunday pairing of the last two major championships this season, first at the US Open at Olympic Club in June and again at the British Open held at Royal Lytham & St. Annes last month. Despite his consistent play in both tournaments, McDowell is still searching for his second career major after winning the 2010 US Open.
Tiger Woods, noted for his enthusiasm for the sport of golf, took a while to get going at the 2012 PGA Championship in his first round on Thursday. But when he did, Woods put himself in the middle of a pack of golfers not far off the lead.
Woods shot a 3-under 69 at the Kiawah Island Ocean Course, good for a tie for ninth after his first round. He's a fair bit off the pace being set by Joost Luiten, but that's because it's a record-setting pace: Luiten is at 8-under through 14 holes.
Woods began his day on the 10th tee, and had three birdies and two bogeys in his first nine holes. But the third birdie came on the 18th hole, and Woods followed it with two straight birdies on the first and second holes, getting him to 3-under. He added both another birdie and another bogey before his round was done.
Woods' playing partners, Keegan Bradley and Martin Kaymer, had slightly more exciting days: Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion, shot a 4-under 68, while Kaymer, the 2010 PGA champion, misfired for a 7-over 79.
You can visit SI.com for a full leaderboard.
Rory McIlroy has had a forgettable 2012 to date, but he is already on the road to turning that around as the first round of the 2012 PGA Championship in South Carolina is underway. After McIlroy's first 18 holes, he is sitting pretty, in a tie for second place at 5-under and just one stroke off the current lead.
McIlroy sank five birdies in his first 16 holes and didn't bogey once in his round. The current leader is Joost Luithen, who sits at 6-under through 12 holes. Joining McIlroy in second place are Gary Woodland -- who has also finished his round -- and Carl Pettersson, who is through 14.
There are still plenty of top players yet to tee off on Thursday, including Masters champion Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson, who has had an even worse year than has McIlroy. Tiger Woods is currently at 2-under through 16 holes.
You can visit SI.com for a full leaderboard.
At 149th on the money list, John Daly has a way to go to get into the top 125 and reclaim his PGA Tour card -- but an eagle on the par-5 11th and a share of second place early in the first round at Kiawah Island won’t hurt. Fresh from a T5 finish at last week’s Reno-Tahoe Open, the 1991 PGA champ made his presence felt early after carding two birdies on his front nine and making the turn at 2-under.
The eagle put Long John at 4-under along with Rory McIlroy and Carl Petterrson, just one shot off the early lead of Joost Luiten.
Daly has missed only one PGA Championship (1999) since his win, but his best start since that victory was a share of 29th in 1997 and he has compiled two missed cuts and two withdrawals after the first round in his previous four PGA starts. With two additional top-20 finishes in 10 tour appearances this season, Daly, who has made it his mission to earn back his playing privileges, has had a decent 2012.
Tiger Woods is currently 1-under after the first nine holes of the 2012 PGA Championship, just four shots off leader Joost Luiten. Woods began the back nine with two pars on the first two holes, then was able to pick up a birdie on the par-four No. 12 hole.
Unfortunately for Woods, it looked like he was going to dig himself a deep hole when he managed to bogey the subsequent next two holes and push his score to 1-over early on in the tournament. Woods managed to settle down however, birdying two of the final four holes on the front nine.
Just four shots back of the leader though the front nine, Woods can still find his way close to the top of the leaderboard by the end of the day with some solid play.
See the full leaderboard.
The leaderboard at the first round of the 2012 PGA Championship continues to shuffle around as Ken Duke has taken over the tournament lead after his opening nine holes at 4-under par.
Defending champion Keegan Bradley is now two-shots back from Duke after dropping a shot on his fourth hole. Tiger Woods has also fallen off the pace a bit and remains at even-par for the championship while still playing his opening nine holes.
Rory McIlory has moved up the leaderboard, however, and is now in a tie for second place at 3-under par. McIlory could use a strong finish this week to put pressure on the Official World Golf Ranking leader Luke Donald for the top spot on that list.
Gary Woodland and Carl "Don't Call Me Peterson" Pettersson are also one shot back from Duke. The morning groups will be finishing their front nine momentarily.
Check out the complete leaderboard.
The 2012 PGA Championship is underway at Kiawah Island and defending champion Keegan Bradley is tied for the tournament lead early on in his first round.
Currently at 3-under par, Bradley eagled his second hole of the day to climb within one shot of then-leader Greg Chalmers, who eventually dropped a shot on his sixth hole to fall even with Bradley. The 2011 PGA Champion - and winner of last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational - is currently playing No. 4 on the Ocean Course.
Paired with Bradley is three-time PGA Champion Tiger Woods, who birdied No. 3 to reach red-numbers on his round and is currently two shots behind Bradley. Woods looks to continue his strong play throughout 2012 this week in the hope of capturing career major number 15.
See the full leaderboard.
Golf won't be a part of the Olympics until 2016, but the fourth major of the year in the sport will steal a little bit of the 2012 Olympics shine from Thursday until Sunday, during which the 2012 PGA Championship will be contested at Kiawah Island.
Tiger Woods will look for his first major since 2008 after near-misses at The Masters and the British Open. He'll be paired with up-and-comers Keegan Bradley and Martin Kaymer, the 2011 and 2010 winners of the PGA Championship, respectively, over the first two days.
The event's traditional threesome of the year's first three major winners produces the high-wattage grouping of 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson, 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson and 2012 British Open winner Ernie Els for the first two rounds.
And in the group tailor-made for golf sadists, Hunter Mahan, Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia will play as a threesome for the first 36 holes.
Here's the full list of tee times for Thursday's first round of the 2012 PGA Championship. All times are Eastern.
7:20 a.m.: Kelly Mitchum, D.A. Points, Marcel Siem
7:30 a.m.: John Senden, Ken Duke, Michael Frye
7:40 a.m.: Greg Chalmers, Spencer Levin, Michael Thompson
7:50 a.m.: Thomas Bjorn, Robert Garrigus, Charley Hoffman
8:00 a.m.: Lucas Glover, Ben Curtis, Trevor Immelman
8:10 a.m.: Scott Stallings, Jeev Milkha Singh, Johnson Wagner
8:20 a.m.: Shaun Micheel, David Toms, John Daly
8:30 a.m.: Bernd Wiesberger, Ryan Palmer, Robert Karlsson
8:40 a.m.: Alvaro Quiros, Cameron Tringale, Ryan Moore
8:50 a.m.: Tommy Gainey, Jason Day, Carl Pettersson
9:00 a.m.: Mike Small, Brian Davis, John Huh
9:10 a.m.: Sean O'Hair, Brian Cairns, Seung-Yul Noh
9:20 a.m.: Chris Stroud, Marty Jertson, Thongchai Jaidee
12:30 p.m.: Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, George McNeill, Frank Bensel
12:40 p.m.: Brendon de Jonge, Danny Balin, Hiroyuki Fujita
12:50 p.m.: John Rollins, Kyle Stanley, Francesco Molinari
1:00 p.m.: Charl Schwartzel, Rickie Fowler, Nicolas Colsaerts
1:10 p.m.: Hunter Mahan, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia
1:20 p.m.: Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els
1:30 p.m.: Luke Donald, Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson
1:40 p.m.: Padraig Harrington, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III
1:50 p.m.: Scott Piercy, Graeme McDowell, Matt Kuchar
2:00 p.m.: Justin Rose, Paul Lawrie, Nick Watney
2:10 p.m.: K.J. Choi, Simon Dyson, Scott Verplank
2:20 p.m.: Mitch Lowe, Jeff Overton, Blake Adams
2:30 p.m.: William McGirt, Paul Scaletta, Robert Allenby
7:20 a.m.: Matteo Manassero, Charles Howell III, Mark Brown
7:30 a.m.: Pat Perez, Corey Prugh, Martin Laird
7:40 a.m.: Toru Taniguchi, Rory Sabbatini, Rafael Cabrera-Bello
7:50 a.m.: Jose Maria Olazabal, Branden Grace, Matt Dobyns
8:00 a.m.: Darren Clarke, Ryo Ishikawa, Gary Woodland
8:10 a.m.: Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jim Furyk
8:20 a.m.: Jason Dufner, Paul Casey, Geoff Ogilvy
8:30 a.m.: Keegan Bradley, Martin Kaymer, Tiger Woods
8:40 a.m.: Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter, Steve Stricker
8:50 a.m.: Lee Westwood, Bill Haas, Angel Cabrera
9:00 a.m.: Stewart Cink, Peter Hanson, Tim Clark
9:10 a.m.: Jeff Coston, Bud Cauley, Robert Rock
9:20 a.m.: Joost Luiten, Alan Morin, Thomas Aiken
12:30 p.m.: Bryce Molder, Matt Every, Bob Sowards
12:40 p.m.: Sang Moon Bae, Darrell Kestner, David Lynn
12:50 p.m.: Marcus Fraser, Jamie Donaldson, Doug Wade
1:00 p.m.: Jonathan Byrd, Anders Hansen, Aaron Baddeley
1:10 p.m.: Thorbjorn Olesen, Fredrik Jacobson, Jimmy Walker
1:20 p.m.: Miguel Angel Jimenez, K.T. Kim, Bo Van Pelt
1:30 p.m.: Y.E. Yang, Rich Beem, Vijay Singh
1:40 p.m.: Charlie Wi, Pablo Larrazabal, Chez Reavie
1:50 p.m.: Retief Goosen, Mark Brooks, Roger Chapman
2:00 p.m.: Alex Noren, Mark Wilson, George Coetzee
2:10 p.m.: Marc Leishman, Ted Potter, Jr., Brian Gaffney
2:20 p.m.: Michael Hoey, Kevin Na, Rod Perry
2:30 p.m.: Brendan Jones, Bill Murchison, J.J. Henry
For more on the 2012 PGA Championship, keep it locked to SB Nation's golf hub.
Golf's final major tournament, the PGA Championship, tees off Thursday at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C.
Defending champion Keegan Bradely will not only look to defend the Wanamaker Trophy, but also win his second tournament in as many weeks after defeating Jim Furyk in dramatic fashion at last wekend's Bridgestone Invitational.
Thursday's first round begins at exactly 7:20 a.m. ET as Kelly Mitchum, D.A. Points, and Marcel Siem will show the rest of the golfers the way.
TNT will have live coverage from 1-7 p.m. ET and beginning at 8:30 a.m. you can stream coverage of marquee groups and par 3 holes at The Ocean Course by visiting PGA.com.
A course that looks like a links-style golf but doesn't quite play like one, golfers will be tested from start to finish of this tournament, which could provide U.S. Open-type scoring depending on weather conditions.
With 10 holes running right alongside the beautiful Atlantic Ocean coastline, windy and damp conditions are likely to cause problems for golfers, but elevated greens and paspalum grass means golfers will still have to hit high trajectory shots to stay in contention.