10 Notes to Know: PGA Championship, Round 1

May 17, 2019
Justin Ray
  1. Brooks Koepka continued his evisceration of major championship golf courses, posting 63 to lead the PGA Championship after round one. It was the second time Koepka shot 63 in the PGA Championship, having done it in the second round last year. Brooks is the third man to shoot 63 twice in majors, but the first ever to record multiple rounds of 63 in the same major, and the first to shoot 63 in a major in consecutive years.
  1. Koepka is just the second reigning PGA Champion to lead after the first round, joining Tiger Woods in 2000. Woods went on to win that week. Koepka’s 63 is far and away the lowest opening round ever shot by a PGA Champion defending his title – the old mark was 66, shot by Woods in 2000 and Lee Trevino in 1985.
  1. Koepka beat the field scoring average in round one by 10.06 strokes. It’s the first time a player has beat a major championship field by ten strokes during a given round since Steve Stricker did it in round one of the 2011 PGA Championship. Stricker gained 10.11 shots on the field that day, but followed with a second round 74 and finished tied twelfth.
  1. Koepka is a combined 62-under in major championships since the 2016 PGA Championship began. That is 21 strokes better than any other player during that stretch: Rickie Fowler is second at 41-under.
  1. Danny Lee opened with 64, his lowest career major championship round by four strokes. Lee led the field in strokes gained approach, hitting six approach shots inside ten feet. He also led the field in strokes gained putting – Lee’s 21 putts in round one are the fewest in any single round in his PGA Tour career.
  1. In his attempt to become the first man to win the Masters and PGA in the same season since Jack Nicklaus in 1975, Tiger Woods opened with 72. One bright spot in Woods’ day was his eagle at 4 – his first eagle at the PGA Championship since 2001 at Atlanta Athletic Club. Woods is nine shots behind Koepka. The last player to win a major when nine or more shots off the lead after round one was Jack Fleck at the 1955 U.S. Open.
  1. It was a frustrating first round for Rory McIlroy, who despite ranking second in the field in strokes gained off the tee, made just one birdie in an opening round 72. Rory needed 35 putts on Thursday. The only time he has had more putts in a major championship round was the second round of the 2010 Open at St Andrews – a day when Rory shot 80 in extremely difficult, windy conditions.
  1. A Koepka victory is far from a foregone conclusion this week at Bethpage. Koepka is the ninth player to open a major championship with a round of 63 – only two of the previous eight went on to win. And consider this: nearly as many PGA Championship winners have been outside the top-10 after day one (48%) as inside the top-10 (52%).
  1. Tommy Fleetwood made six birdies on Thursday en route to a solid opening round 67. For Fleetwood, it was his eighth round of par or better in his last nine played in major championships. Fleetwood will try to do something Friday he’s never done before: open a major with consecutive rounds in the 60s.
  1. Players face two distinctly different opening tests in rounds one and two, depending on whether or not their round begins on hole 1 or hole 10. On Thursday, holes 1 through 3 played to a combined score of 61-over-par. Holes 10 through 12, on the other hand, yielded a combined score of 147-over-par – a difference of 86 shots.