The Latest: Early featured PGA group off to blah start
Brandon Stone, of South Africa, hits from the rough on the 18th hole during a practice round for the PGA Championship golf tournament at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., Wednesday, July 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (AP) The Latest on the PGA Championship (all times EDT):
The PGA Championships featured morning group of Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day didn't get off to a great start at Baltusrol Golf Club. Through their first four holes – they started on the back nine – Day, the defending champion, had the group's only birdie on the par-4 11th. Mickelson, who won the PGA Championship the last time it was played here, and McIlroy, a two-time PGA champion, both had a bogey in the opening holes.
Players starting on the back nine were attacking the 11th hole at Baltusrol. Of the first seven groups to play the 431-yard, par-4 hole, six golfers posted birdies. That included Rickie Fowler, who is playing with Ernie Els and Zach Johnson. Fowler's playing partners parred the hole.
No one had ever finished a major championship at 20-under par until Jason Day last year in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. And then it happened three majors later when Henrik Stenson matched him at Royal Troon two weeks ago at the British Open.
What will Baltusrol serve up this week at the PGA Championship?
Kerry Haigh, the PGA's managing director of championships, says score is no concern at the PGA Championship, which has a history of good scoring. But that leads to a curious aspect about Baltusrol that this week might solve.
The 1967 U.S. Open was at Baltusrol, and Jack Nicklaus broke the scoring record with 275. When it returned to Baltusrol in 1980, Nicklaus set another U.S. Open record at 272. The U.S. Open was at Baltusrol again in 1993, and Lee Janzen tied the record at 272.
But when the PGA Championship was played here in 2005, Phil Mickelson won at 4-under 276.
The final major of the year began Thursday when New York club pro Mark Brown hit the opening tee shot in the PGA Championship.
The PGA of America has a tradition of letting one of its 20 club pros in the field hit the first shot. The 49-year-old Brown is the head pro at Tam O'Shanter Golf Club in Brookville. He was a runner-up at the PGA Professional Championship in June.
The sun was baking Baltusrol in the morning, and it was expected to be steamy in the afternoon when the other traditional group of major champions teed off. Masters champion Danny Willett, U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson and British Open champion Henrik Stenson tee off at 1:45 p.m.
Defending champion Jason Day plays in the morning.