Watson, Molinari take early control

Watson, Molinari take early control

Watson, Molinari take early control

 Italy’s Francesco Molinari watches his shot during the first round of the US PGA Championship on Thursday. AFP

On a tough and breezy Whistling Straits layout demanding precision off the tee and plenty of patience, left-hander Watson and Molinari carded matching four-under-par 68s to set the pace in the year's final major. American Ryan Moore briefly got to five under but bogeyed two of his last three holes playing into the wind for a 69 to finish level with compatriot Charles Howell III and Australian Jason Day.

Woods, whose world number one ranking is under threat following the worst PGA Tour performance of his career last week, appeared to be back on track as he opened with a 71. Seventy-eight players in the field were yet to complete their rounds when play was suspended for the day in fading light after fog delayed the start of the tournament by more than three hours. Among those still out on the course, South African Ernie Els and Americans Matt Kuchar and Nick Watney were at four under. Els and Kuchar, who holed out with a wedge to eagle the 13th, had completed 14 holes and Watney 11.

Although Woods lost ground after racing into a tie for the lead with three birdies in his first four holes, he was delighted to record only his third sub-par score in his last 17 rounds on the PGA Tour.

"It would have been very disappointing and frustrating to end up at even par as well as I played today," four-times champion Woods told reporters after mixing four birdies with three bogeys. "Everything was better.” While Woods erased the memories of his joint second-last finish and 18-over total at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday, Watson putted superbly and Molinari avoided trouble to take joint control. "It was a great day," the long-hitting Watson said after a round featuring six birdies, two bogeys and several recoveries to save par. "My mental focus was really good and I just putted really well. I kept it going by making some putts.”

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)