Quail Hollow presented a stern test in Thursday’s opening round of the final major, primarily because of the firm, fast and frightening greens for which the U.S. Open is known.
Championship favourite Rory McIlroy certainly found it tough going, with four bogeys in a five-hole stretch on his back nine, before two late birdies reversed some of the damage.
But Day squashed any doubts that the train was coming off the tracks with a par on the suffocating 12th, and erased a poor tee tee on the par-3 13th by dropping a 46-foot bomb for bird. A par on the final hole ended his dream of the Grand Slam.
It is a tradition on the eve of the US PGA Championship that the reigning champion hosts a dinner for past winners and gives each of them a gift.
Both made birdie on the 18th hole with lengthy putts that trickled – and trickled – into the cup.
His 25-footer at the par-four 18th was no less impressive than the closing birdie by Kisner, whose sharply-breaking 20-footer tracked in dead centre.
A solid par on his last hole allowed Spieth to escape with a 72.
“I just had a couple of bad swings, missed a couple of greens in the wrong spots and if you do that you have no hope”.
Turns out there is a plan for Kisner to play the sprawling North Carolina gem; it just took a little research and a monsoon of patience – which has not always been among the 33-year-old’s strengths.
“Going back on the previous experiences that I’ve had in the PGA, obviously different venues. Drove it fine. Just not real focused when I’m out there”.
His caddie, Michael Greller, told him to have three good birdie chances and see where that left him.
“I’ve been upset with how I’ve played in the majors so far in my career”, Kisner said. Fowler has shot rounds of 69 and 70 in the PGA’s first two days.
But they have been an integral part of the PGA Championship since its start in 1916, and perhaps even more so since the tour players broke away in 1969 to form what is now the PGA Tour.
Rory McIlroy, a two-time victor at Quail Hollow, and defending champion Jimmy Walker are among those who start in the afternoon half of the draw. “I didn’t make the one out of five”. Instead, I missed the 10 out of 10 from that kind of range.
“As everyone says, there’s no winning post there”, McIlroy said. To Kisner, the ones he has to get are the par-5 seventh, the short par-4 eighth, the drivable par-4 14th and the par-5 15th. But he struck it really well. He’s a grinder. It’s impressive to watch him play.
But what really hurt me was the 17th, the middle segment of the “Green Mile”, which for me came in the first nine itself. “At that age, that’s a lot of maturity”.
Spieth said he wouldn’t feel additional pressure because he already has a major this year.
“You do think whatever happens, I’ve already won the Masters and it’s awesome”, Garcia said.