PGA fans thrilled by the 'Rory and Jordan' show

Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:21pm EDT
 
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

KOHLER, Wisconsin (Reuters) - The 'Rory and Jordan' show did not retain top billing by the end of the opening round of the PGA Championship on Thursday but the fans certainly got what they wanted from the marquee grouping at Whistling Straits.

World number one Rory McIlroy, second-ranked Jordan Spieth and British Open champion Zach Johnson drew the biggest crowds of the day for their afternoon rounds and did not disappoint with a blend of the brilliant, unexpected and unfortunate.

McIlroy, returning from an ankle injury and more than five weeks out to defend his PGA Championship crown, looked very comfortable walking around the course as he mixed four birdies with three bogeys for an opening 71.

Masters and U.S. Open champion Spieth, seeking a rare third major victory in the same year, matched McIlroy's 71 after parring his first 10 holes before bogeying the 11th and then following up with birdies at the 12th and 16th.

Only Johnson struggled, never feeling comfortable on the tees as strengthening winds buffeted the stunning links-style layout on his way to an opening 75.

"The atmosphere? It was fantastic," said Spieth, whose round was highlighted by a chip-in for birdie at the par-three 12th that sparked a thunderous ovation from the fans.

"Huge crowds today rooting for all of us. The roar when the chip shot went in was louder than I expected it to be, which was pretty cool. You want to feed off the crowd. Everyone was respectful and knowledgeable."

Much of the focus this week was always going to be on the remarkable Spieth as he seeks to join fellow Americans Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods as the only players in the modern era to have won three majors in a single year.   Continued...

 
Aug 13, 2015; Sheboygan, WI, USA;  Rory McIlroy and  Jordan Spieth line up their putts on the 16th green during the first round of the 2015 PGA Championship golf tournament at Whistling Straits. Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports