Charlotte: Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri repaired a shaky start with a composed finish to card a modest one-over 72 for a share of the 33rd spot on the opening day of the 99th PGA Championships here.
He struck two birdies in the last three holes on a golf course that was not playing easy by any means. Lahiri was at one stage, three-over after eight holes yesterday.
That he managed to hang in and finish at one-over 72 gave him ample confidence that he was in for better things in the second round when he plays in the morning.
Dane Thorbjorn Olesen shot a four-under 67 in the morning to take the lead and in the afternoon wave, Kevin Kisner holed three birdies in last five holes to join him in shared lead.
Kisner finished with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole. Jordan Spieth, seeking a career Grand Slam, struggled on the greens during his 72 and Rory McIlroy ended with the same score after being one-under at the turn.
McIlroy was done in by a bogey and double bogey at 13th and 14th and both were T-33rd.
Lahiri said, “Frankly I played solid but it was only in the second nine that I got going. I had a shaky start but as the round progressed things became better.”
“The greens were a lot slower than what I expected, but they were firmer as they had dried up. I ended up leaving a lot of putts short. I really struggled with the speed of the greens.
Speaking of his misses, Lahiri explained, “On the second nine (the front side of the course) I missed two makeable putts from short distances like from six feet on fifth (for par) and from five feet on eighth (for birdie).”
While Olesen and Kisner shared the lead with 67 each, there were five players at three-under 68 in Tied-3rd.
The five included rookie Grayson Murray, whose win at Barbasol two weeks ago in the same week as the British Open, earned him a PGA spot.
He was tied third alongside US Open champion Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, DA Points and Chris Stroud, whose win last week at Barracuda forced him to change plans as he qualified for the PGA Championships.
Hideki Matsuyama rode a roller-coaster as he opened with two birdies, but turned in one-under. On the back nine, he had three bogeys in a row from third to fifth, before stemming the rot with a par and then closed the day with three straight birdies for a card of one-under 70 and was Tied-15th.
Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els had a miserable start to their 100th Major as they shot 79 and 80 respectively.
Mickelson’s record of not having missed a PGA cut since 1995 is now in danger.