PGA Championship 2012: Carl Pettersson seizes early lead with 66

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — The breakthrough moment Thursday wasn’t just the sun shining over Kiawah Island. It was Carl Pettersson breaking 70 for the first time in 21 tries at the PGA Championship to take the lead, Rory McIlroy flashing that boyish smile and bashing tee shots.

And yes, even John Daly showing there might be another cycle left in that up-and-down career.

Pettersson, a winner earlier this year in South Carolina down the coast at Hilton Head, got the best of the weather on a steamy day on the Ocean Course and didn’t waste the opportunity. He made three birdies in four holes, never dropped a shot and wound up with a 6-under 66.

“There really wasn’t much wind on the front nine, so I knew I had to keep going low because I figured the wind would get up,” Pettersson said. “The wind started blowing a little bit on the back nine, and I carried on solid play. So it was a great day for me.”

It was a good day for Tiger Woods, nothing more.

Despite having to get up-and-down for bogey on three holes, he made enough birdie putts for a 69, a reasonable start as he tries to end the longest drought of his career in the majors. This is his 14th major since he won his last one in 2008.

“Anything in the 60s is going to be a good start in a major championship,” Woods said. “And I’m right there.”

He had plenty of company on Thursday. Some players had not been heard from in a while, but others were plenty familiar.

Gary Woodland, who started the season with a new coach (Butch Harmon) and injured himself working too hard on the changes, is feeling better and hitting it longer than ever. He opened with a 67, as did McIlroy and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.

“I drove the ball the best I’ve driven it all year,” said Woodland, one of the most powerful players in the game. “And when I drive it like that, I’m playing a game that most guys can’t play out here.”

Daly made an eagle on the par-5 11th hole and was in the group at 68 that included former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy and defending PGA champion Keegan Bradley, who had a birdie-eagle start before he settled in.

Adam Scott, in his first major since throwing away the British Open with four bogeys on his last four holes, quickly got back into the mix with a 68, one of the better scores from the late starters.

The flags started to ripple in the afternoon, though not enough to make Kiawah as frightening as it can be. With so much rain over the last week, including storms that limited practice time before the championship began, the greens were soft and fairways slow.

Those were the kind of conditions McIlroy had when he shattered the scoring record at the U.S. Open last summer at Congressional.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player