It was an intriguing day at Quail Hollow, with scoring proving particularly tough. As it stands after round one, Kevin Kisner and Thorbjorn Olesen lead the way, firing rounds of 67 on a day where plenty struggled to break 70.
Just behind the leaders sit a quintet of Americans at three-under-par. U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka was joined by Chris Stroud, Gary Woodland, Grayson Murray and D.A. Points as the day drew to a close.
Red-hot favourite Rory McIlroy laboured to a one-over-par 72 which is a lot better than it could have been as the two-time winner of this event started to unravel after the 12th hole. He was two-under-par at this point and seemingly ready to mount an effort at the first-round lead before things started to go south. Playing partners Jon Rahm and Rickie Fowler, both worthy contenders in their own right shot rounds of 70 and 69 respectively and all three players remain well in the hunt.
Fowler of course is looking for his second win at Quail Hollow, which was the site of Fowler’s first PGA Tour victory back in 2012. A triple-bogey 7 at the par-4 5th wasn’t enough to derail the World No.10 in his quest for first major championship, but it is this sort of blow-up hole that has cost Fowler the chances of winning a major in the past and he will hope this hole doesn’t come back to haunt him come Sunday.
Jordan Spieth didn’t match his lofty expectations but remains in the running to win the Grand Slam, sitting alongside fellow favourite, McIlroy at one-over-par. By a matter of months Spieth will break Tiger Woods’ record as the youngest player to win the Grand Slam if he does manage to secure victory this week.
The World’s No.1 Dustin Johnson is joined by last week’s winner Hideki Matsuyama and 2015 US PGA Champion, Jason Day at -1 and all three will also hope to be a factor come the weekend.
It wasn’t plain sailing for the rest of the World’s top-10 though, with Swedish pair Alex Noren and Henrik Stenson both finishing on three-over-par and Masters champion, Sergio Garcia ending the day on four-over-par, after dropping five shots on the Green Mile.
Paul Casey impressed again and is the leading Brit after day one, at two-under-par as he also looks for his first major championship and his first win since the 2014 KLM Open. English pair, Tommy Fleetwood and Jordan Smith are both sitting at -1, with the latter making his first major championship start, thanks to his win at the Porsche European Open. Elsewhere, Justin Rose’s struggles continued, dropping five shots over the last six holes to finish the day on fiver-over-par whilst his compatriot Lee Westwood shot a two-over-par 73.
There were two withdrawals after round one with England’s Andrew Johnston (Shoulder) and Players Champion, Si-Woo Kim (Back) both calling it a week.
Here are the rest of those players in the top-10 after day one.
T8 Bud Cauley (-2)
T8 Tony Finau (-2)
T8 Brian Harman (-2)
T8 Jim Herman (-2)
T8 Patrick Reed (-2)
Below is also a list of notable players who struggled during the first round.
T108 Branden Grace (+6)
T108 Tyrell Hatton (+6)
T108 Bubba Watson (+6)
T108 Russell Knox (+6)
T127 Phil Mickelson (+8)
T127 Thomas Pieters (+8)
T144 Jimmy Walker (+10)
Things are nicely poised for an exciting weekend at what should remain a very tough golf course. With a number of the world’s top players chasing down Olesen and Kisner it will be interesting to see how the pair cope with the pressure during round two and beyond, should they remain a factor over the weekend.