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Golf

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Leader board
PGA Championship
Valhalla Golf Club
Louisville, Ky.
Yards: 7,458 Par: 71
First round
Score Par
Lee Westwood 32-33–65 -6
Kevin Chappell 32-33–65 -6
Ryan Palmer 34-31–65 -6
Jim Furyk 31-35–66 -5
Edoardo Molinari 31-35–66 -5
Henrik Stenson 32-34–66 -5
Rory McIlroy 32-34–66 -5
Chris Wood 32-34–66 -5
Associated Press
Tiger Woods reacts to a poor tee shot on the seventh hole during the first round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on Thursday.

PGA 1st day all about keeping up momentum

Associated Press
Co-leader Lee Westwood shakes hands with his caddie after firing a 6-under-par 65.

– Rory McIlroy showed no sign of letting up. Lee Westwood might just be getting started. Momentum was a big theme Thursday in the opening round of the PGA Championship, and it even applied to Tiger Woods.

Except that Woods kept going the wrong direction.

Westwood followed up a season-best 63 four days ago at Firestone by matching his best score in a major championship. He made nine birdies at Valhalla for a 6-under 65, giving him a share of the lead with Ryan Palmer and Kevin Chappell.

One shot behind was McIlroy, the No. 1 player and overwhelming favorite in the final major of the year. McIlroy, coming off back-to-back wins at the British Open and a World Golf Championship, overcame a wild double bogey on the par-5 10th hole by running off four straight birdies. His eagle attempt on the 18th hole narrowly missed. He settled for a 66, a solid start in his bid to become only the seventh player to win the last two majors of the year.

Woods achieved that feat twice, including at Valhalla in 2000.

On a day when nearly half the field shot par or better, Woods opened with a 3-over 74. He hit two tee shots that missed the fairway by 30 yards, hooked a 3-wood into a creek and hit a spectator with his tee shot on a par 3. His two best putts were for par and bogey.

“It wasn’t very good,” Woods said.

In his last competitive round, Woods withdrew after eight holes at Firestone on Sunday because of another back injury. He said his trainer was able to pop a joint back into place above the sacrum, eliminating the pain. But it apparently did little for the rust.

Woods wasn’t the only player who hit a few wild ones.

Right when McIlroy was building momentum, he hooked his second shot on the par-5 10th hole out of bounds, leading to a double bogey. He was more upset about a three-putt bogey on the next hole, but then he bounced back with four straight birdies to get right back into the mix.

“Whenever you are confident and you have some momentum on your side, it’s easier to do what I did today rather if everything is sort of going against you, and you’re struggling for form and you have a patch like that,” he said.

Everything is very much going his way right now. It was his 11th straight round under par, and his third straight round of 66.

Westwood also had a double bogey on his 10th hole that kept his score from being even better. He played the back nine first, and hit his tee shot right down the middle at No. 1, and right at the edge of a divot that wasn’t entirely filled with sand.

“It was like caught or plugged,” Westwood said. “So it would have been a perfect 9-iron from the fairway, and just unlucky. Caught it a bit heavy.”

He flubbed a chip trying to be too perfect and missed a 4-foot bogey putt. Much like McIlroy, he responded in splendid fashion by closing out his round with four straight birdies, finishing with a 30-footer on the ninth hole.

Westwood also had a 65 in the third round at Congressional in the 2011 U.S. Open.

“I’ve played better rounds of golf, but I was really pleased today,” he said.

Phil Mickelson played alongside Woods and rallied for a 69.

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