Rory McIlroy Leads After Hot Start at 2022 PGA Championship
Rory McIlroy got off to a magical start Thursday at Southern Hills Country Club.
The two-time PGA Championship winner finished with a 5-under 65 and grabbed the opening-round lead. His round was highlighted by four birdies in a row on No’s 12-15. He started his day on No. 10.
“It was a great start to the tournament,” said McIlroy. “I think when your game is feeling like that it’s just a matter of going out there and really sticking to your game plan, executing as well as you possibly can, and just sort of staying in your own little world.”
This marked the first time McIlroy broke 70 in the first round of the PGA Championship since his winning effort in 2014.
McIlroy was dialed in through the early part of his round. His first birdie on the par-4 12th came after he hit his approach shot to just 22 inches. He two-putted for birdie on 13, rolled in a 26-footer on 14, and threw a dart to 9 feet on 15.
He nearly added another on 17, but his birdie attempt kissed the edge of the hole and he flipped his putter in disbelief.
McIlroy added birdies on No’s 2 and 5 before making bogeys on two of his next three holes. But he knocked his approach on the par-4 9th to 18 feet and calmly rolled in a closing birdie.
“I think I was just happy with... when you get off to a good start like that, sometimes you can maybe start to be a little careful or start to give yourself a little more margin for error, but I stuck to my game plan,” said McIlroy.
McIlroy came into this week’s PGA Championship after shooting an 8-under 64 in the final round of the Masters. He spoke on Tuesday about how he liked the Gil Hanse effort. “It’s a really good track,” said McIlroy. “I really enjoyed playing it (on Monday), and I think it’s going to be a wonderful test this week.”
Southern Hills Country Club is a second-shot golf course and McIlroy put on a ball-striking clinic to open his championship. He was in the top five in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and Tee to Green, plus Driving Distance. He also had an excellent morning on the greens.
McIlroy has struggled in the opening round of major championships over the last 18 months. He hasn’t broken 70 in any of his last six major openers and has gone 75-76-75 in his last three. But this was as complete a start as McIlroy, who also won the PGA Championship in 2012, could have asked for. “I stayed aggressive,” said McIlroy. “I stuck to what I was trying to do out there, which I was pleased with.”
McIlroy finished runner-up at the Masters and was 5th at the Wells Fargo Championship – his last start on the PGA Tour.
If McIlroy were to go on to win, he’d become just the fourth golfer in history to win the Wanamaker Trophy three times.