Rory McIlroy vowed not to get ahead of himself as he headed into the second round of the US PGA Championship in pole position to end his major drought.
Since winning the last of his four majors in the 2014 US PGA, McIlroy had been a combined 35 over par in the first round of golf’s four biggest tournaments, his most recent effort being a one-over-par 73 in April’s Masters.
But it was a completely different story on a sweltering opening day at Southern Hills as McIlroy carded seven birdies and two bogeys in an opening 65 to record his lowest round in a major since the 2011 US Open.
McIlroy went on to win his first major title by eight shots at Congressional, and said on Thursday: “It is a great start but I’m not getting ahead of myself. I did pretty much everything you need to do out there and I’m going to have to keep doing the same the next three days.”
McIlroy held a one-shot lead over Will Zalatoris and Tom Hoge, while playing partners Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth were facing battles to make the cut after rounds of 74 and 72 respectively.
Woods was two under par for his first five holes but struggled from then on and admitted his right leg – which he feared could have to be amputated following last year’s car crash – was not “feeling as good as I would like”.
Spieth needs to lift the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday evening to become only the sixth player to complete a career grand slam.
Round of the day
McIlroy made four birdies in a row on his front nine and rallied with a birdie on the ninth, his final hole, after dropping two shots in the previous three holes.
Shot of the day
Scottie Scheffler produced a shot worthy of his status as world number one and Masters champion to set up an eagle on the 665-yard fifth hole.
Tweet of the day
Tiger Woods may have struggled to an opening 74, but he proved to be adept at multi-tasking during a wait on the 14th tee.
Key tee times (all BST)
1411 Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler
1925 Viktor Hovland, Will Zalatoris, Cameron Smith
1936 Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods
Strong winds are likely on Friday morning before gradually decreasing for the afternoon. Scattered showers and thunderstorms will develop towards the evening as a cold front approaches from the north. Storms could be severe on Friday night with large hail, strong winds and heavy rainfall expected.