McIlroy makes hay in the morning calm as 'Mild Thing' Daly rolls back the years

Ulsterman opens US PGA campaign with flawless five-under round but Tiger toils in the heat

Kiawah Island

"It was hot. Damn hot," as Robin Williams yelled in Good Morning Vietnam. And so, once again, was Rory McIlroy's game. Crisis? What crisis? Well, McIlroy did say he liked the grass at the Ocean Course. And he smoked it in the first round of the 94th US PGA Championship here yesterday, shooting a five-under-par 67. He had graded his form on the eve of the tournament as a B. On this performance, an A may yet appear on his end-of-term report.

The 23-year-old world No 3's mood this week has been upbeat, as he has sensed a return of the scintillating shot-making form that sent him soaring away to win the US Open last year by eight shots. The monsoon that has soaked the course was perfect for his attacking style, as the greens were as receptive as dartboards. It did not take McIlroy long to hit the bull's eye: bash with the driver, whack with the wedge, birdie at the 10th (his first hole). The perfect start.

McIlroy set off among the dunes shortly after breakfast time. The setting was serene, with the Atlantic's white horses lapping on to the beach. Colossal colonial-style Addams Family houses, tucked away in the shade of giant trees, line the course with their verandahs and rocking chairs and Southern belles sweeping down spiral staircases to beg Rhett not to leave.

In fact no one was gone with the wind yesterday. There wasn't any. It was the calm after the storms that poured six inches of rain on to Kiawah Island. "There was completely no wind," McIlroy said. "It was flat calm and I really thought that I had to take advantage of the conditions.

"I got off to a great start, was three under through seven holes and just took it on from there. It's a great score to build on. We know there's wind and bad weather coming. It won't be like that again."

We have been here before with McIlroy. There have been good starts out of the grid this season followed by stalled engines. He admitted it, too, and will be hoping this time it won't be a case of déjà vu all over again. He was wise to be cautious. "It's tough for guys to follow up a good round with another," he said. "You see it all the time. Someone shoots 66 and then they will do well to break 70 the next day. It's just the way golf is."

His mantra to avoid another slide is "middle of the greens". It worked in round one. He hit 15 out of 18 in the regulation in a rare bogey-free round. Even more rare is the sight of John Daly on a major championship leaderboard. A four-under-par 68 for the golfer formerly known as the "Wild Thing" saw him tucked in behind McIlroy and the early front-runner, Sweden's Carl Pettersson at six under. In the chasing pack were defending champion Keegan Bradley and Geoff Ogilvy at four under, and Ian Poulter and Thomas Bjorn at two under.

The last time Daly finished in the top 10 of one of golf's stellar four-pack was in 1995 when he won the Open at St Andrews. The 46-year-old, more "Mild Thing" these days, and more notorious for his loud trousers than a loud lifestyle, won the US PGA Championship, too, in 1991. McIlroy was two years old then. The crowds still love Daly and the feeling is mutual. "They're amazing," he said. "They just keep you going. They were getting good and loud on the back nine. I love it. I'm just kind of loosey-goosey out there – and it feels good."

While McIlroy looked cool in his cherry-red shirt, others were less fortunate as the temperature hit 90F with 75 per cent humidity. Many players looked like they had stepped out of the shower and straight on to the course. Others had embarrassing sweat patches. Tiger Woods looked like he had soaking wet pants. He recovered from bogeys at the 13th and 14th (his fourth and fifth holes) to sign for a three-under-par 69. "I played well," he said. "Anything in the 60s is going to be a good start in a major."

But it was the usual hot-potch of genius and frustration from the world No 2. Genius: his flop-shot wedge that parachuted down to four feet to help save par at the 9th, his last hole. "Open up with a 60 [degree wedge] and put a bit of fuel on it," heexplained. Frustration: channeling John McEnroe at the 15th when his approach zipped away from the hole. "You cannot be serious," he muttered, just loud enough for everyone to hear.

"I probably lost a bit of weight today," Woods said after his round. "Just have to hydrate and recover from the heat."

 



News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam