PGA Championship: Pettersson on top at 1st round midpoint; McIlroy, Tiger lurking
Scoring conditions were good early in the first round of the PGA Tour's final major of the year, being played at Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
Kiawah Island, South Carolina
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He wasn't the only one.
On a course softened by rain earlier in the week, McIlroy shot a 5-under 67 and was a stroke behind leader Carl Pettersson after finishing his first round. Tiger Woods looked sharp while making three straight birdies but finished with a 69 following an uneven round.
"I really felt like we had to take advantage of the conditions," McIlroy said. "I'm expecting this to be the best day of the week."
Thunderstorms were possible later Thursday and throughout the tournament, but skies were mostly clear when the first groups teed off. McIlroy, who won the U.S. Open last year, is trying to break an unusual pattern in which the last 16 majors have been won by 16 different players. He tied for 40th at this year's Masters, missed the cut at the U.S. Open and tied for 60th at the British Open.
McIlroy will be a contender on Kiawah Island's Ocean Course if he can build on the steady, bogey-free first round. McIlroy looked like golf's next big star after his U.S. Open win at Congressional in 2011, but expectations were tamer when he arrived at the PGA Championship for this year's final major. He finished tied for fifth last weekend at Firestone, perhaps a sign his game was coming around.
"I was working very hard on technical stuff for the last few weeks, and then a slight mental adjustment, as well," McIlroy said. "I felt like I was maybe hitting too many balls on the range. I just needed to go out there and play a bit more on the course and see shots."