India’s Shubhankar Sharma shot his first sub-par round at a Major as he compiled a one-under 69 to lie tied 33rd after the first round of the 100th PGA Championship in St Louis. While Sharma, playing his fourth Major of the year, had three birdies against two bogeys in his 69, his senior colleague Anirban Lahiri shot even par 70, despite five birdies, to lie tied 48th. Lahiri had just two pars in his first nine, which was the back stretch of the Bellerive Country Club.
In all he had five birdies and five bogeys. Four of the five birdies came in his first nine, while he had three bogeys on back nine and two on front nine. The long 38-foot putt for birdie on the ninth, his closing hole, was a big consolation as Lahiri finished at even par 70 to lie alongside Tiger Woods (70).
Woods, a four-time winner of the PGA Championship, got off to a slow start with a bogey and double bogey on his first two holes, but he recovered to shoot a 70 and is tied for 48th. Gary Woodland (64) and Rickie Fowler (65) — looking for their first win in a major championship — took a big first step in that direction after setting the early pace.
“It feels great when you start with an under par round and overall I was happy with my play,” Sharma said. On him being 2-under and finishing with a bogey, he added, “You are never happy finishing with a bogey, but a 69 did please me.” On the year as a whole so far, Sharma said, “It is my first PGA and it has been a very, very special year. I played Masters in my first year and all the Majors.
“I just want to finish strong in the last Major of the year and I am happy with the start. I now need to build on that. Anything is possible on a course like this and the match is quite open. “This course suits my eye, not only design, but also weather, hot and sticky, like we have back home. The grass is also like that. All in all it suits me and that’s why I played well.”
Lahiri had the consolation of long birdie putt on the last hole. “That last putt (for a birdie) was something like 30-35 feet. I felt the golf course owed me some putts. I missed something like four putts inside sox feet and all up the hill, mainly because I couldn’t get it to the hole,” he said. “I am looking forward to going out early and get the first use of the greens. Today, being the second last group was tough. There was a lot of wear and tear on the greens, but that was expected.”
Fowler, 29, has finished second in each of the four major championships, most recently the Masters this spring. South African Brandon Stone and two-time major winner Zach Johnson are in third place at 4-under 66. There was a big logjam at three-under 67 and it included World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Austin Cook, Ian Poulter, Pat Perez, Brian Gay, Stewart Cink, Ollie Schniederjans, Kevin Kisner, Justin Rose, Thomas Pieters and 2016 PGA Championship winner Jason Day.
Defending champion Justin Thomas, who won last week at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone, shot 69 and is tied for 32nd. This season’s three major champions were paired together. Francesco Molinari, who won The Open Championship, was three-over through seven holes but finished with five birdies to shoot 68.
US Open champion Brooks Koepka was two-over on the front and finished with a 69 while the Masters champion Patrick Reed didn’t putt well and shot a 72.
Two-time PGA winner Mickelson had three bogeys and two double bogeys on his card and settled for a 73.