Stroud goes from 1st tour victory to 68 in PGAThe Associated Press — By DOUG FERGUSON - AP Golf Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Chris Stroud opened with a 68 in the PGA Championship, not bad for someone still walking around in a fog.
Four days ago, Stroud was in Nevada playing the final round of the Barracuda Championship and looking forward to a week at home in Houston with his family. Then he hit a 5-wood to 5 feet on the final hole and made eagle, got into a playoff and made birdie on the second extra hole to win for the first time on the PGA Tour.
That put him into the PGA Championship for the first time in three years, and he kept right on rolling.
"Now I've got a two-year exemption. I'm in Kapalua. Just working my way up," Stroud said. "Just going to keep living this foggy dream I'm in right now and ride it as long as I can."
Just getting to Quail Hollow was a rush.
He drove two hours to Sacramento, California, for an overnight flight to Atlanta, and then on to Charlotte. He was so tired he didn't wake up until late morning on Tuesday. His wife brought extra clothes from their home in Houston.
Stroud still found time to reply to what he estimated at 1,400 text messages, 55 voicemails and 100 emails.
If all that wasn't enough, Stroud's parents came to the PGA Championship to surprise him. They all had dinner Wednesday to celebrate his first PGA Tour victory.
And then he shot 68. In three previous appearances in the PGA, his best score was a 70.
RORY'S REGRET: Rory McIlroy is a two-time winner at Quail Hollow with only one finish outside the top 10 in seven appearances.
He wasn't playing quite the same course in the PGA Championship.
The new holes the club built — Nos. 1, 4 and 5 — were not the issue. It was the Bermuda grass lining the fairways and around the greens that made it far more difficult, not to mention putting surfaces that were firm and fast.
"Once you get yourself out of position, it's very difficult," he said. "It's tricky around the greens."
He found that out the hard way when his chip just left of the green at the par-3 13th raced some 15 feet by the hole, leading to a bogey. On the next hole, after hitting his 3-wood into the water on the reachable par 4, McIlroy still had a reasonable chance of saving par until he caught the chip heavy. When he missed a short putt, he walked off with a double bogey.
Then, he failed to birdie the par-5 15th from just short of the green after gouging a 5-wood out of the rough. He played that stretch in 3 over; he would have hoped to have played it in 1 or 2 under.
"If I just could have had that three-hole stretch back," he said. "But I think other than that, I played nicely. Did what I needed to do. Birdied the par 5s, birdied the holes that you should birdie. I'm just disappointed with that three-hole stretch, but I'm right in it. It wasn't very easy. It was tough to hole putts this afternoon."
TAKING HIS LUMPS: The Green Mile was tough on everyone — including a course marshal.
Brooks Koepka's drive on No. 16 sailed to the right and hit a marshal in the head in the morning session, leaving his face bloodied. Video posted on the PGA of America's Twitter feed showed Koepka checking on the marshal and signing a glove for him as he lay on the ground.
The man left the course for the remainder of the day, but PGA officials said he was fine.
"He just got drilled in the head," Koepka said. "I felt terrible about it. I mean, that's never fun to walk up and see somebody, you just drilled them. I drilled him in the head, which is probably the worst part. To be honest with you, I felt like crap."
Koepka said the marshal was laughing and joking about the ball bouncing off his head and back into the fairway.
"He kept telling me, "You got a good break." Koepka said. "I was like, well, still feel like crap. But yeah, I got his information so I'll probably reach out to him tonight and see how he's doing. I'm sure he's going to have quite a big headache."
ACE IN THE HOLE: The first hole-in-one at the PGA Championship belonged to Joost Luiten.
He aced the par-3 fourth on Thursday during the opening round. Luiten's tee shot on the 184-yard hole bounced once on the green before plunking into the cup.
ALL IN A NAME: Thorbjorn Olesen is tied for the first-round lead after a 4-under 67 at the PGA Championship. Or is he?
It turns out Thorbjorn isn't actually his first name. It's Jacob.
Olesen says that when he started school in Demark, there were three boys named Jacob in his class, so everyone started calling him by his middle name, Thorbjorn, to avoid confusion. The name stuck, and he's been known to the golf world as Thorbjorn Olesen ever since.
"I thought, why not, I'll still use it as a professional golfer," said Olesen, who has won four times in the European Tour but never on American soil. "I think it's only really my mom that calls me Jacob. But everybody else calls me Thorbjorn."
DUSTIN'S START: Dustin Johnson opened with a 70 and was three shots behind, which doesn't sound extraordinary for the No. 1 player in the world.
But it was a lot better than it had been for Johnson in the majors.
This was his best start in a major since the U.S. Open last year at Oakmont, which he went on to win for his first major. That was also the last time he broke par in the opening round. He had a 71 at Royal Troon, 77 at Baltusrol, 75 at Erin Hills and a 71 at Royal Birkdale.
"I felt like I played solid today," Johnson said. "Only a few shots back. In a major, a few shots can be one hole."
Not many know that better than Johnson.
DIVOTS: Andrew Johnston and Si Woo Kim withdrew after the opening round because of injury. Johnston shot a 78, while Kim had a 79. ... Only two players drove the green at the 354-yard 14th hole — Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka. Both made par. ... Sergio Garcia got a taste of Quail Hollow's "Green Mile," the toughest three-hole closing stretch in golf. The Masters champion made double bogeys on a pair of par-4 holes — Nos. 16 and 18 — sandwiched around a bogey on the par-3 17th. ... The hopes of a club pro making the cut might lie with Omar Uresti, a former PGA Tour player. He shot 74.
AP Sports Writer Steve Reed contributed to this report.