It seems the first day of the 98th PGA Championship has proven a real struggle for some of golf’s biggest names.
Jimmy Walker currently tops the leader board shooting 65, leaving him on -5 under par. Walkers best finish in a major championship – and arguably his best year overall – came in 2014 when he finished tied 7th.
Despite being leader he is still largely an outsider to win the tournament with odds of 16/1, with Sky Bet.
Dustin Johnson, a man who has been in hot form over the past few months appeared to completely disintegrate during this tournament.
He finished his round +7 over par, not making the cut for day 2 and in tied 143rd position. This was surely one of the worst rounds for the American.
There is no doubt this was just a blip and he will bounce back to his fine form. Only last week he finished Tied 2nd, shooting -11 under par at the RBC Canadian Open – taking home winnings of $440,533.
Then there was Rory McIlroy who had 3 bogeys in his first 7 holes on the back 9. He finished the round without carding anything lower than par, suffering from his inability to hold a putt.
The Northern Irishman will be disappointed with his first round and he has a mountain to climb if he has any realistic chances of clawing back up the leader board.
Meanwhile, world number 1 Jason Day managed to finish his round -2 under par despite suffering illness prior to the competition and struggling with the putter. If Day is consistent in the next round I can see him being in amongst the top 3, despite his putting woes.
Other notables such as Speith, Garcia, Mickeleson, Z. Johnson, Bubba Watson and Willett all had struggles and finished their round on +1 over par – a score which can easily be improved on in round 2. I expect to see at least one or two of these guys in the mix on the final day.
Looking at the leader board I feel a strong round from the 2016 UK Open winner, Henrik Stenson will see him challenging from top spot. Englishman Andy Sullivan is also playing some nice golf and whilst I can’t see him getting top 3, I wouldn’t be surprised if he walked away from Baltusrol with some decent prize money.
My picks for winner would be:
Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler.
To finish in the top 4 I would say:
Emiliano Grillo, Jason Day, Andy Sullivan