LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Rory McIlroy showed no sign of letting up. Lee Westwood might just be getting started. Momentum was a big theme Thursday in 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 first-round lead with Ryan Palmer and Kevin Chappell.
One shot behind was McIlroy, the No. 1 player and 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 the seventh player to win the last two majors of the year.
Woods achieved that feat twice, including at Valhalla in 2000. That seems even longer than 14 years ago.
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 some 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.
He didn’t look very sharp. In his last competitive round, Woods withdrew after eight holes at Firestone 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.
MEIJER LPGA CLASSIC
BELMONT, Mich. (AP) – Sandra Gal made six straight birdies on her back nine to take the first-round lead in the Meijer LPGA Classic, while Michelle Wie withdrew because of a wrist injury.
Gal, the 29-year-old German who won her lone LPGA Tour title in 2011, birdied Nos. 3-8 and finished with a par on No. 9 for a 6-under 65 at Blythefield Country Club.
Wie was 5 over after nine holes when she pulled out. She fought injuries to both wrists in 2007.
The U.S. Women’s Open winner in June for her second victory of the year, Wie said she hoped to be able to play next week in the LPGA Championship – the fourth major championship of the season.
South Korea’s Inbee Park was a stroke behind Gal.
Australia’s Katherine Kirk opened with a 67, and Azahara Munoz was another stroke back along with IIhee Lee, Katy Harris, Gerina Piller, Amy Young and Line Vedel.
Second-ranked Lydia Ko, the 17-year-old star coming off a victory in the Marathon Classic in Sylvania, Ohio, matched Paula Creamer with a 69, and top-ranked Stacy Lewis shot 70.
U.S. WOMEN’S AMATEUR
GLEN COVE, N.Y. (AP) – Canadian teen Brooke Mackenzie Henderson advanced to the U.S. Women’s Amateur quarterfinals, winning two matches at Nassau Country Club.
The 16-year-old Henderson, the low amateur in the U.S. Women’s Open, beat Ember Schuldt of Sterling, Illinois 4 and 3 in the morning, and topped Dylan Kim of Plano, Texas, 3 and 2 in the third round.
Henderson will face Alison Lee of Valencia, California, on Friday. Lee edged Eimi Koga of Honolulu in 20 holes in the third round.
In the other upper-bracket quarterfinal, Hannah O’Sullivan of Paradise Valley, Arizona, will play Grace Na of Alameda, California. In the third round, O’Sullivan edged Canada’s Augusta James in 20 holes, and Na beat Lauren Kim of Los Altos, California, 2 up.
In the lower bracket, Australia’s Su-Hyun Oh will play Kristen Gillman of Austin, Texas; and Andrea Lee of Hermosa Beach, California, will face South Korea’s 14-year-old Eunjeong Seong.
In the third round, Oh routed defending champion Emma Talley of Princeton, Kentucky, 9 and 8; Gillman beat Casey Danielson of Osceola, Wisconsin, 5 and 3; Andrea Lee topped Jessica Porvasnik of Hinckley, Ohio, 4 and 2; and Seong beat New Zealand’s Liv Cheng in 19 holes.