Lee Westwood led the British challenge at the US PGA championship with an opening 66 to close on four under par, one off the lead held by Jim Furyk and Adam Scott.
On the front page of a leaderboard flush with British talent, a resurgent Paul Casey shot a 67, Justin Rose a 68 and Rory McIlroy began the defence of his title with a 69. McIlroy raced out of the blocks in the afternoon with three birdies in the opening four holes to reach the turn at three under but successive bogeys to start the back nine stalled momentum.
Westwood, also among the afternoon starters, was three under at the turn and after a 70-minute weather suspension returned to claim a fourth birdie at the penultimate hole. Westwood attributed his fine start to the work he has done with long game coach Sean Foley. “I'm hitting the ball better. I've been working with Sean a little bit more. We're working on getting the ball positioned forward and widening my stance on the driver a bit and taking the spin off it. It's going pretty straight and quite long. So I'm pleased with that and I'm pleased with my distance control.”
McIlroy was not too unhappy, either. “I got off to a fast start and it felt like it should have been a low one. But then I bogeyed 10 and 11. Came back after the delay to birdie 12, which was pleasing. That four-hole stretch at the end is pretty tough and I didn’t play them as I would have liked. All in all I’m in decent shape. Of all the majors this is the one I seem to do the best in, so coming back here that gave me some confidence.”