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US PGA Championship 2013: Woods suffers a fumble as Scott and Furyk take first round lead

Adam Scott of Australia hits his tee shot on the 17th hole during the first round of the 95th PGA Championship on August 8, 2013 in Rochester, New York.  (Getty Images)
Anand Datla

Adam Scott of Australia hits his tee shot on the 17th hole during the first round of the 95th PGA Championship on August 8, 2013 in Rochester, New York. (Getty Images)

The golfers must be a relieved lot. After dealing with courses that would not offer a blade of grass, they are biting sumptuous chunks off the course at the Oak Hill Country Club. There was rain during the night and the air was thick with moisture, softening up the course to a state of mute agreement.

The final major of the season is underway, with the scribes wondering if Tiger Woods might break his duck. But it was Adam Scott and Jim Furyk, who surged to the first round lead with some consummate golf, signing off with a 65.

Hanging to their tails were Lee Westwood and David Hearn, who carded 66 to provide for an engaging start to the PGA Championship in Rochester, New York.

Woods is coming off a runaway eight stroke victory at the World Golf Championship in Bridgestone; expectations were naturally high. The world number one managed only a couple of birdies before his round unravelled after the turn.

Woods made bogey at the par-5 fourth and then added to the damage with a double at the final hole. He made the turn in 33 but took 38 to return home, leaving himself with plenty of work on Friday to catch up with the men in front.

The Masters champion had no such worries. Scott, playing in the afternoon with Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose, reeled away five straight birdies from the fourth to leap up the leader board. Scott seemed set to emulate or better the best championship round at Oak Hill when he took one more off the card at the par-3 15th.

But he needed three strokes on the green at the 16th, to offer one back to the course and settle for a 65. “Just got on a bit of a roll and hit a few shots close,” said the Aussie. “I didn’t have too much putting to do. You’ve got to take advantage when it happens, because it doesn’t happen too much in the majors. Nothing to complain about in 65.”

At 43, Furyk is a veteran with some vintage in his bag. His only major came ten years ago at the US Open. Just last year, Furyk was in a share of the lead at the US Open again with only three holes left to play. He frittered away the advantage to finish in a tie for fourth. For a man with memories and miles under his belt, Furyk did a fine job on Thursday, before spilling one on the ninth, which was his final hole for the day.

Tiger Woods of the United States walks off the fifth green during the first round of the 95th PGA Championship on August 8, 2013 in Rochester, New York.  (Getty Images)

Tiger Woods of the United States walks off the fifth green during the first round of the 95th PGA Championship on August 8, 2013 in Rochester, New York. (Getty Images)

The man from West Chester, Pennsylvania approached the final hole with six birdies to his name. He drove into the rough on the right, from where the trees prevented him from anything but a chip back to the fairway. He swung his nine-iron well enough to reach within 20 feet of the flag. Furyk needed two from there to end the day with a 65.

“You’ve got to take your lumps,” said a philosophical Furyk. “You’re going to have your good moments and your bad ones. I’ve always been very good at looking at the situation and figuring out how I could have made it better.” He will know that the last man to win the PGA after leading on Thursday was Tiger Woods in 2000. Only nine men have managed the feat since 1958 and Furyk admitted as much, when he said, “right now we are jockeying for position.”

The world of professional sport is remorseless – would you remember that Paul Casey was ranked third in the world for a while, before a slippery slope of snow sent him tumbling into oblivion? The Englishman is now ranked a lowly 169th, still searching for the form that took him near the very top. It was a snowboarding accident during the Christmas of 2011 that dislocated his shoulder and disoriented his existence as a golfer.

Casey finally made a mark again on Thursday. The man, who lives is sunny Arizona, reached the clubhouse smiling like a child after making a fine 67, stealing glances at the board even as he made his way. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen my name up there,” Casey said justifying his enthusiasm. “I couldn’t help it. I just wanted to check it out. I appreciate being back on the big stage.”

There are two men sandwiched between Casey and the first round leaders. Westwood showed he was done dealing with the meltdown at Muirfield, with an assured 66 that earns him another go at a major title, immediately after letting the Open slip away. Joining him is a man from Canada, who was no more than an alternate for the event until last week.

The defending champion, Rory McIlroy enjoyed a rare 69 and the Open champion Mickelson did a Tiger to settle for a 71. McIlroy shot three birdies in the first four holes, but back-to-back bogeys after the turn set him back slightly toward the end. Leftie would be happy with one over par, considering that he survived a pair of double bogeys.

Scores:-5: J Furyk (US), A Scott (Aus)-4: L Westwood (Eng), D Hearn (Can)-3: P Casey (Eng), R Garrigus (US), M Kuchar (US), S Piercy (US), M Fraser (Aus), J Day (Aus)

Edited by Staff Editor

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