Golf

Kisner and Olesen lead as Spieth struggles

Thorbjorn Olesen and Kevin Kisner matched each other with long, curling birdies at the final hole to share a one-stroke lead, as Jordan Spieth slipped five strokes off the pace after the first round of the US PGA Championship yesterday morning (Singapore time).

On a day when many of the favourites started well, Dane Olesen and American Kisner carded four-under 67, one better than a group including US Open champion Brooks Koepka on a Quail Hollow course that bared its teeth despite a mere zephyr of a breeze.

Spieth, at 24, seeking to become the youngest man to complete the career Grand Slam after winning last month's British Open, struggled on the newly-grassed greens and needed two late birdies to salvage a 72.

Pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy also laboured to a 72 after finding water with his tee shot at the driveable par-four 14th.

CAN'T PUTT ANY WORSE

Soft fairways and rock-hard, ultra-fast greens yielded some major casualties, none more so than five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson, whose 79 was his highest score in 95 rounds at the PGA Championship.

Spieth said he could only improve on his slow start.

"I can't putt any worse than I did today," he said.

"I don't think I missed any short putts today. I just had really poor speed on my long ones."

Co-leader Olesen offered a pretty good formula to explain his sizzling start.

"The first 15 holes, especially, I was driving the ball very, very well and that made it a bit easier," said the world No. 78, a four-time European Tour winner.

Among the big names who hit the ground running were American Dustin Johnson, Japanese Hideki Matsuyama, Spaniard Jon Rahm and Australian Jason Day, who all carded 70.

"This is a really good start," said world No. 3 Matsuyama, who birdied his final three holes. - REUTERS

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