KEEP THAT CARD
Tommy Fleetwood: It took him a little while to warm up starting on the back nine — he was 1 over through five holes — before the English golfer who learned the game by sneaking onto the Royal Birkdale course at night to practice with his father carded back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16. He got as low as 4 under before finishing with a 3-under 67, four shots behind leader Brooks Koepka and three behind Danny Lee.
TOSS THAT CARD
Brian Gay: His 81 wasn’t the worst score of the day — Andrew Filbert claims that distinction with a birdie-free, 14-over 84 — but Gay won’t have a second round. He withdrew from the tournament because of a knee injury.
ON THE COURSE WITH …
Tiger Woods: The Masters champion hit his first competitive shot since that momentous April victory, and he hit it far right into some wet, shaggy grass. The tee shot was a sampling of Woods’ play during a 2-over 72. “It wasn’t as clean as I’d like to have it, for sure,” he said. “Got it back under par for the day, and let a couple slip away with a couple bad putts and a couple mistakes at the end.”
John Daly: The 53-year-old 1991 PGA champion was allowed to use a cart because of an arthritic right knee, but he saw no advantage in it. “It’s very awkward,” he said. “It’s to a point where it’s almost embarrassing. But I love the PGA, and I’m a past champion. There’s no way I could walk it.” Daly shot a 5-over 75, sporting some Yankees-themed golf pants for the New York crowd.
• Sixteen players broke par, the fewest after the opening round of the PGA Championship since 2008 at Oakland Hills.
• Nine players have opened a major with a 63, and only two of them went on to win — Jack Nicklaus at Baltusrol in the 1980 U.S. Open and Raymond Floyd at Southern Hills in the 1982 PGA Championship.
Par-4, 502-yard No. 10: Only seven players birdied the hole Thursday. Of course, Koepka — playing it as his first hole of the day by starting on the back nine — was one of them.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I never had that kind of injury before, so I was freaking out and was telling my wife, ‘OK, are we going to open up a Korean barbecue restaurant now?’ And she’s like, ‘Hell no!’ ”
— Danny Lee, who came back from last year’s neck injury to shoot 64 in the first round.
TWEET OF THE DAY
“Good job I wasn’t allowed to play in a buggy today else I’d have driven in at some point.”
— English golfer Eddie Pepperell (@PepperellEddie), commenting on his difficulties at Bethpage Black during a first-round 76.
Koepka called the course “brutal,” but he was one of the few to tame it and impress Woods, his playing partner, in the process. He continues his quest for back-to-back PGA Championship titles with a 12:49 p.m. tee time, joined by Woods and Francesco Molinari. Coverage is from noon-6:30 p.m. on TNT.