After bogeying No. 17, Rory McIlroy slipped in a six-foot putt to save par on the 18th that led to the Northern Irishman giving a small fist pump for a grinding one-under-par 69, a round that could have been worse and that leaves him with a realistic chance at winning. A second straight bogey might have taken the fight out of the struggling McIlroy.
“Obviously got off to fast start,” McIlroy said. “Three birdies in five holes but that last four-hole stretch is pretty tough. All things considered, one under isn’t a bad score.”
The final hole treated Phil Mickelson cruelly. Mickelson's tee shot was in trees, he hit trees, had to chip out to the fairway and ended up with a double-bogey six on the 497-yard par-four 18th hole. He missed a 15-foot putt for bogey and gave him a round of one-over 71 for the day.
Earlier in the day, Tiger Woods also finished with a double bogey for a 71, although it was on No. 9. Woods and Mickelson are ranked first and second in the world.
Adam Scott, ranked No. 5 in the world, had five consecutive birdies on the front nine. The 33-year-old Australian who won the Masters this year said, “I managed to get on a bit of a roll on the front nine. I didn’t even have much putting to do and you have to take advantage when that happens.”
Scott admitted a mid-round weather delay slowed his momentum a bit but said, “There’s nothing to complain about with a 65.”
Mickelson declined to speak to TNT, choosing to head straight to the practice range even as the light disappeared at about 8 p.m. in Rochester, N.Y.
His playing partner, Scott, who briefly held a one-shot lead earlier, needed to make a 12-foot par putt to be tied with Jim Furyk for the first-round lead.
No one left on the course was likely to threaten the leaders.Some notables who will have to play well Friday to make the cut include Shaun Micheel, who won the PGA Championship in 2003 at Oak Hill but who shot six-over 76 Thursday; Ernie Els, the South African with four major titles in his career who had a four-over 74; and Irishman Padraig Harrington, who also had a 76 and who is a two-time British Open winner and the PGA Championship winner in 2008.
Adam Scott take lead, Lee Westwood one back | 4:25 p.m.
Adam Scott just missed a birdie try at the par-three No. 15 to take a two-shot lead. Phil Mickelson saved par on the same hole with a five-footer to stay at one-under.
Lee Westwood, the Englishman once ranked No. 1 in the world but who has yet to win a major title (he’s finished second at the Masters and British Open and third at the U.S. Open and PGA), finished with a 66.
“I’ve been playing well,” Westwood said. “I pay little attention to the talk about not winning a major yet. I’m driving the ball well. I’m taking the spin off the golf ball. With a golf course like this if you can set the hole up with a good drive, it’s good,” Westwood didn’t have a bogey in his first round.
That left him a shot behind behind Scott, who bogeyed his first hole of the day on the 16th, and Jim Furyk.
Meanwhile, on the 16th, Mickelson’s drive was in the rough and he was heard to say, “It came left?” on his second shot. Could this hole be a bad adventure for Phil? Or a good adventure? It was an OK adventure. He saved par to stay at one-under, four shots behind Scott and Furyk.
Rory McIlroy bogeyed the par-four 17th to fall to one-under par, same as Mickelson. Right now that puts the two of them in a large group tied for 24th.
Adam Scott takes the lead | 3:55 p.m.
Phil Mickelson birdies the par-four 12th to get to even par at the PGA Championship. Yes, that sound you heard in Santa Monica was the cheering from Rochester, N.Y.
He seemed to end his brief bit of momentum with a tee shot at the par-five 13th that barely stayed out of water and off the rocks but he somehow, without hurting himself or others, got the ball back in the fairway. And, most miraculously of all, kept his light-colored pants spotless.
And there was almost three-way tie at the top. Miguel Angel Jimenez, with his unnaturally straight back, normal-guy belly and signature ponytail, could have grabbed a share of the lead, joining Jim Furyk and Australian Adam Scott at five under par. But Jimenez, a 49-year-old Spaniard, just missed a 10-footer for birdie on the 14th.