McIlroy Shoots 65, Leads Hoge, Zalatoris by 1 in 104th PGA

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland seems to have his major mojo back.

McIlroy, who claimed the last of his four major championship titles in 2014, shot 5-under-par 65 to take a one-stroke lead over Will Zalatoris and Tom Hoge after the first round of the 104th PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.

The 65 is his lowest first-round score of his career in any major.

“It was a great start to the tournament,” said McIlroy, who captured the PGA in 2012 and 2014, the Open Championship in 2014 and the U.S. Open in 2011. “I have been playing well coming in here and took a lot from that last round (64) at Augusta (in the Masters last month).

“I feel like this course lets you be aggressive if you want to be, so I hit a lot of drivers to take advantage of my length and hit a lot of good iron shots. I did pretty much everything you need to do out there and I’m going to have to keep doing the same the next three days. I’m not getting ahead of myself.”

McIlroy started at No. 10 and took the lead by making four straight birdies through No. 15, and stayed in front despite making two late bogeys by adding four birdies on the front nine including a 19-foot putt on his final hole.

Zalatoris, the 2020-21 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, birdied three of his first four holes after also starting at No. 10, made three more birdies on the front and two bogeys in his 66, while Hoge equaled with three birdies on the front, two on the back and only one bogey.

“It was kind of a bizarre day,” said Zalatoris, who won the 2020 TPC Colorado Championship on the Korn Ferry Four but is winless on the PGA Tour. “I didn’t drive it great early, and then drove it nicely at the end, but I think all six of my birdies came from the rough today, which is just very bizarre.

“I thought being the ball-striker I am, obviously it’s shown in the first six or so majors of my career, but on top of that, I think it’s the attitude of this is what I’ve wanted to achieve basically since I was a little kid, and it’s kind of freeing in a way.”

Ninth-ranked Justin Thomas sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the last hole to shoot 67 and is tied for fourth with Matt Kuchar, who made three birdies down the stretch, and Abraham Ancer of Mexico, who carded a bogey-free round.

Tenth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, the 2021 Olympic Gold Medalist shot 68 and is in a big tie for seventh with Kevin Na of Diamond Bar, Mito Pereira of Chile, Chris Kirk, Cameron Smith of Australia, Davis Riley, Joaquin Niemann of Chile, Lucas Herbert and Matt Fitzpatrick of England.

Sixth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway is tied for 27th after a 70, top-ranked Scottie Scheffler shot 71 and is tied for 38th, third-ranked Collin Morikawa La totaled 72 and is in a tie for 56th that includes eighth-ranked Jordan Spieth, and second-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain is tied for 79th after a 73.

Tiger Woods, who has captured 15 major titles including the PGA tour times but is playing in only his second event since sustaining serious right leg injury in a rollover SUV accident a years ago, made two early birdies but only one the rest of the way and is tied for 99th after struggling to a 74.

“My leg is not feeling as a good as I’d like it to be,” said Woods, who won the 2007 PGA at Southern Hills. “Walking hurts, everything hurts.”

Woods said he would have treatment tonight and tomorrow morning before playing the second round in the afternoon wave.

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