KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – The self-proclaimed Swedish Redneck is leading the PGA Championship in the south. Seems like a scenario that would have the locals excited.
Instead, they’re thrilled with Carl Pettersson’s pursuers.
Pettersson shot 6-under 66 Thursday to lead after the first round, but Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and John Daly – yes, John Daly – are all closely chasing after a relatively windless, humid day at the Ocean Course.
“Long way to go, but I’m thrilled with the start,” Pettersson said of his bogey-free round.
McIlroy also collected a bogey-free round and shot 67 to stand a shot behind Pettersson. He hit driver 10 times and often hit them as long as playing partner Dustin Johnson, known as one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour.
“When you’re hitting it in the fairway and you’re hitting it long, it gives you a big advantage over a good percentage of the field,” McIlroy said.
Woods did not hit as many drivers as McIlroy, but he hit way more than he did last month at Royal Lytham & St. Annes during the British Open and it resulted in a six birdie, three bogey round of 69.
He hit 9-of-14 fairways and hit 10-of-18 greens but it was Woods' putting that flourished on these smooth paspalum greens. Woods only needed 22 putts Thursday, which tied for first in the field.
“I putted well on the weekend, made a few adjustments Friday night last week and felt like I hit a lot of good putts,” Woods said about the final 36 holes of the WGC-Bridgestone last week. “Came here with the same thoughts, same feels, and I made a few today.”
Daly, who tied for fifth place last week at the Reno-Tahoe Open, made a slick up and down for par on the final hole to shoot 68 and is tied for sixth place.
World No. 1 Luke Donald opened with 74. Lee Westwood shot 75, Phil Mickelson shot 73, British Open champion Ernie Els shot 72 and British runner-up Adam Scott recorded 68.