Some outrageous nonsense from Brooks Koepka on 11. Having sent his tee shot into the gallery, he whistles his wedge through the green and just over the other side. He’s left with a delicate little bump out from thick oomska near a bunker … and of course clips it out, sending it on an inevitable journey into the cup for par. One of those shots that looked in from the moment it left the face of the club. He remains level par.
Pars for Scheffler, Koepka and Woodland at 10. Koepka follows that up by pulling an awful long iron at the 245-yard par-three 11th into the gallery. Following behind, Justin Thomas starts the defence of his title by sending his second from rough safely into the heart of the green, then draining a 30-footer for birdie. Par for Rory. Meanwhile on the subject of fast starts, here’s Kazuki Higa with yet another birdie, this time at the short par-four 14th. For the record, Higa has missed the cut in his last five starts. Now look!
-4: Higa (4*)
-2: Stallings (3*)
Kazuki Higa snatches the lead for himself outright. A fuss-free perambulation down the 13th, one of the two par-fives at Oak Hill, and a textbook birdie. The 28-year-old hasn’t won in Europe or the USA yet, but has six victories in Japan to his name, four of those coming in the last 13 months. He looks totally in control of his game, and that’s three birdies in a row.
-3: Higa (4*)
-2: Stallings (2*)
-1: Fox (3), Lee (3), Holmes (1*), Riley (1*)
Back on the 10th tee, the 2012 and 2014 winner Rory McIlroy tees it up … to the biggest cheer of the morning, it has to be said. He’s not in the greatest form at the moment – missing the cut at Augusta hit hard – but he’s always box office and the gallery has his back. He doesn’t find the fairway. Neither does the 2016 and reigning champion Justin Thomas. The 2020 champ Collin Morikawa makes it three misses out of three, spraying his out to the right. “Slept good last night, did everything I was supposed to do,” Rory tells JT as the pair set off down the hole, hands in pockets, both smiling in the relaxed fashion.
Koepka, the only member of the group to have found the fairway, ends up furthest from the flag after an extremely average wedge in. Scheffler, the wildest from the tee, sets up the best birdie chance, gouging out from the thick, wet rough to 12 feet. Pin high. Golf, eh.
The world number two Scottie Scheffler tees it up … and finds the long rough down the left of 10. Then the 2018 and 2019 champion Brooks Koepka unsheathes the driver and launches one down the right-hand side of the fairway. The final member of the group, the 2019 US Open winner Gary Woodland, follows Scheffler into the long stuff. The course is going to fill up quickly with some very big names during the next 30 minutes or so.
Kazuki Higa responds by raking a straight 35-foot birdie putt in on 12! For a second, it looks like his effort is only going to roll 35 feet minus the width of one blade of grass, stopping momentarily on the edge of the cup, but after a crowd-teasing split second, the ball starts turning again and drops. A look of high amusement spreads across Higa’s face. Less than an hour in, and the 105th PGA Championship has already dished up some top-quality entertainment.
-2: Higa (3*), Stallings (1*)
-1: Grillo (2*), Lee (1)
The first birdie of this year’s Championship has been made by Kazuki Higa. The 28-year-old from Japan is making his PGA Championship debut this week, and isn’t hanging around. He fires his tee shot at the long par-three 11th to 12 feet and rolls in the putt. But he’s not leading the tournament, because the first eagle of the week has been made by Scott Stallings, who holes out from 128 yards on the 10th – two little bounces by the hole then a quick spin to the left and in! The 38-year-old from Massachusetts has no major-championship record to speak of at all – his best finish was a tie for 26th in last month’s Masters – but he’s leading one now. Just another 71 holes to go.
-2: Stallings (1*)
-1: Higa (2*), Grillo (1*), Lee (1)
Micheel is going round this morning with Braden Shattuck, one of the 20 PGA club professionals in this week’s field. Shattuck sliced his opening drive into bother down the left, but recovered well to scramble his par. An opening par four for Micheel as well. Most welcome on a hole regarded by the great Ben Hogan as the hardest opening hole in golf. Anyway, while we wait for the first of this morning’s big-name starters – Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka will be teeing it up at 2.50pm BST, soon to be followed by the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Matt Fitzpatrick and Cam Smith – allow our man at Oak Hill, Ewan Murray, to set the scene.
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the 105th PGA Championship. This is the 8.50am starting time. On the tee, from Tennessee, the 2003 PGA Champion, please welcome Shaun Micheel.” And so, one hour and 50 minutes after schedule, Micheel hits the first shot of this year’s Championship. A 3-wood creamed down the middle. Hey, any old excuse to revisit the 7-iron that won him the title 20 years ago, right?
Yes, it may be mid-May but this is upstate New York – and an overnight frost has set us back by a couple of hours. The first group will now tee off at 8.50am (1.50pm BST), with revised tee times to follow. More from PA:
Play had been scheduled to get under way at 7am local time (12pm BST), but predictions of an overnight frost proved accurate. Tournament organisers released a statement early on Thursday morning which read: “Due to frost, all Oak Hill Country Club practice facilities and the golf course are currently closed.
“To protect playing surfaces, everyone on-site must stay off any grass and gates will not open until the frost clears,” the statement added. “Starting times for round one will begin approximately 1hr and 15 minutes after practice facilities open.”
There are two players defending the Wanamaker Trophy at Oak Hill this week. Well, kind of.
There’s the reigning champion Justin Thomas, of course. JT won his second PGA Championship in record fashion last year at Southern Hills, coming from seven shots back on the final day to pip Will Zalatoris in a play-off, after 71-hole leader Mito Pereira blew it by driving into the drink at the 72nd. If this week’s Sunday shenanigans are even halfway as dramatic as that, we’ll be doing pretty well for ourselves.
But there’s also Phil Mickelson. Lefty won at Kiawah Island in 2021, beating Brooks Koepka down the stretch to become the oldest major champion in history. He didn’t get to officially defend that title last year, withdrawing from the field after some injudicious LIV-inspired chat, and now that he’s back … well, of course he’s not actually defending this week, but you know how elite-level sportspeople think, and in his mind he’ll have relinquished nothing. His age (53 next month) and form on the LIV tour suggest he’s got no chance; his outrageous second-place finish at last month’s Masters argues differently.
Other golfers are available! The world number one and new Masters champion Jon Rahm; the in-form world number two Scottie Scheffler; Jordan Spieth, trying to complete the career slam; the Cams Smith and Young; the reigning US Open and recent Heritage champion Matt Fitzpatrick; the fast-shooting Brooks Koepka and his glacial-paced nemesis Patrick Cantlay (preferably in the final pairing on Sunday for some comedy fireworks, come on golfing gods, make it so); the resurgent Jason Day; a European charge by Viktor Hovland, Shane Lowry or Tyrrell Hatton; some home heroics from Xander Schauffele, Max Homa, Tony Finau or Collin Morikawa; a possible Korean coup courtesy of Tom Kim, Im Sung-jae or Kim Si-woo. Oh, and taking up the role of lovable but teeth-grindingly frustrating underachiever in Sergio Garcia’s absence, Rory McIlroy.
Even more golfers are available! Apologies if I’ve missed the obvious, or your favourite, but there are 156 players in the field, we’d be here all day. Instead, let’s simply be about our business. Our coverage begins at 1pm BST (8am local), the original tee times are below. The delay for the first group is just under two hours.
Starting from the 1st (all times BST) …
12pm: Shaun Micheel, Braden Shattuck, Steven Alker
12.11pm: Ben Griffin, Chris French, Joel Dahmen
12.22pm: Wyatt Worthington II, Nico Echavarria, Wyndham Clark
12.33pm: Tom Hoge, Ryan Fox, KH Lee
12.44pm: Paul Casey, Adam Svensson, Beau Hossler
12.55pm: Zach Johnson, Kurt Kitayama, Sahith Theegala
1.06pm: Corey Conners, Ockie Strydom, Joaquin Niemann
1.17pm: Kevin Kisner, Jimmy Walker, Padraig Harrington
1.28pm: Alex Noren, JT Poston, Mackenzie Hughes
1.39pm: Lee Hodges, Callum Tarren, David Lingmerth
1.50pm: Taylor Moore, Denny McCarthy, Brendan Steele
2.01pm: Jeremy Wells, Justin Suh, Adri Arnaus
2.12pm: Anthony Cordes, Mark Hubbard, Dean Burmester
5.30pm: Matt Cahill, Taylor Montgomery, Cam Davis
5.41pm: Michael Block, Hayden Buckley, Taylor Pendrith
5.52pm: Alex Beach, Brendon Todd, Sihwan Kim
6.03pm: Patrick Reed, Rasmus Hojgaard, Nick Taylor
6.14pm: Christiaan Bezuidenhout, John Somers, Chez Reavie
6.25pm: Tommy Fleetwood, Cameron Young, Hideki Matsuyama
6.36pm: Adam Scott, Max Homa, Tony Finau
6.47pm: Xander Schauffele, Tyrrell Hatton, Dustin Johnson
6.58pm: Patrick Cantlay, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson
7.09pm: Alex Smalley, Russell Henley, Mito Pereira
7.20pm: Adam Hadwin, Matt Kuchar, Talor Gooch
7.31pm: Justin Rose, Billy Horschel, Francesco Molinari
7.42pm: Russell Grove, Patrick Rodgers, Ben Taylor
… and from the 10th …
12.05pm: Trey Mullinax, Josh Speight, Kazuki Higa
12.16pm: Adam Schenk, Colin Inglis, Thriston Lawrence
12.27pm: Min Woo Lee, Andrew Putnam, Emiliano Grillo
12.38pm: Harold Varner III, Scott Stallings, Nicolai Hojgaard
12.49pm: Steve Holmes, Adrian Otaegui, Davis Riley
1pm: Scottie Scheffler, Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland
1.11pm: Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa
1.22pm: Jordan Spieth, Shane Lowry, Viktor Hovland
1.33pm: Jon Rahm, Matt Fitzpatrick, Cameron Smith
1.44pm: Luke Donald, Adrian Meronk, Yannik Paul
1.55pm: Kenny Pigman, Davis Thompson, Maverick McNealy
2.06pm: Keegan Bradley, Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau
2.17pm: Jesse Droemer, Matt NeSmith, Rikuya Hoshino
5.25pm: Sam Ryder, Gabe Reynolds, Brandon Wu
5.36pm: Sadom Kaewkanjana, Ben Kern, Thorbjorn Olesen
5.47pm: Webb Simpson, YE Yang, Danny Willett
5.58pm: Sepp Straka, Harris English, Robert MacIntyre
6.09pm: Thomas Pieters, Keith Mitchell, Pablo Larrazabal
6.20pm: Lucas Herbert, Brian Harman, Callum Shinkwin
6.31pm: Tom Kim, Sam Burns, Abraham Ancer
6.42pm: Im Sung-jae, Chris Kirk, Seamus Power
6.53pm: Kim Si-woo, Stephan Jaeger, Anirban Lahiri
7.04pm: Victor Perez, Aaron Wise, Jordan Smith
7.15pm: Chris Sanger, JJ Spaun, David Micheluzzi
7.26pm: Thomas Detry, JJ Killeen, Matt Wallace
7.37pm: Nick Hardy, Gary Koch, Eric Cole