KIAWAH ISLAND, US: Rory McIlroy battled back after an opening bogey while Cameron Tringale and Louis Oosthuizen seized the early lead as the 103rd PGA Championship began at windswept Kiawah Island.
Four-time major winner McIlroy, the 2012 PGA winner at Kiawah, bounced his drive off the 10th tee into water way right to open with a bogey, but birdied the par-5 11th and par-4 12th to stand on 1-under.
American Tringale, out in the opening group at the Ocean course, birdied the par-5 second and added back-to-back birdies at the par-4 sixth and par-5 seventh to make the turn at 3-under 33.
World No. 66 Tringale, whose lone victory in 301 US PGA events was in a 2014 pairs event with Australian Jason Day, sank a birdie putt from just inside eight feet at the second, then holed a 20-foot birdie putt at six and chipped to four feet to set up a birdie at the seventh before a birdie lip-out at the ninth.
South Africa’s Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, matched him atop the leaderboard with an eagle at the 11th and birdie at 13.
Sharing third on 2-under were Australian Matt Jones, England’s Paul Casey and Americans Adam Long, Tom Hoge, Rickie Fowler and two-time major winner Zach Johnson.
Masters champion Hideki Matusyama of Japan, reigning US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and defending PGA champion Collin Morikawa all opened with pars at 10 and birdies at 11.
DeChambeau hooked his first tee shot left into spectators and his second tee shot onto a dirt path, but recovered after both miscues.
A field of 156 seeks a $1.98 million (€1.6 million) top prize on the longest layout in major golf history at 7,876 yards.
Second-ranked Justin Thomas, who could overtake Dustin Johnson for world number one with a victory, opened with three pars.
Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka opened with a double bogey after needing two tries to escape the sand.
McIlroy’s opening driver shot off the 10th tee soared right and bounced into a water hazard. He estimated a drop position and blasted his third over the green into sand, then got up and down for bogey.
Seventh-ranked McIlroy, who won the 2012 PGA at Kiawah Island by a record eight strokes, comes into the tournament off a victory two weeks ago at Quail Hollow that snapped an 18-month win drought.
The 32-year-old from Northern Ireland has not won a major since the 2014 PGA but he could match Tiger Woods as the only players to win a PGA twice at the same venue. Woods won at Medinah in 1999 and 2006.
Johnson, who says he feels 100 per cent after withdrawing from last week’s US PGA event with left knee issues, tees off on the opening hole at 2:09 p.m. (1809 GMT) alongside 2019 British Open winner Shane Lowry of Ireland and Spain’s Sergio Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion.
Johnson, the 2016 US Open and 2020 Masters champion, yearns for one of the golf prizes that has eluded him and would love to claim it in his home state of South Carolina.
“I’ve got a lot of support,” Johnson said. “Definitely it would mean a lot.”
Jordan Spieth, who can complete a career Grand Slam with a victory this week, snapped a four-year win drought last month with a victory at the US PGA Texas Open.
He begins off the first tee at 1:58 p.m. alongside fellow Americans Will Zalatoris, a runner-up at last month’s Masters, and Webb Simpson, the 2012 US Open champion.