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Jim Furyk, Adam Scott lead PGA Championship at 65

Lee Westwood and David Hearn are one shot back after a day for great scoring at Oak Hill. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson shoot 71.

August 08, 2013|By K.C. Johnson
  • Jim Furyk's early round of 65 held up for a share of the lead with Adam Scott on Thursday during the first round of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y.
Jim Furyk's early round of 65 held up for a share of the lead with Adam… (Stuart Franklin / Getty…)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — With apologies to David Hearn, anonymity's recent run in several PGA Championships dissolved a bit in the rain Thursday at Oak Hill Country Club.

At least for one day.

After a first round delayed 70 minutes by weather, Jim Furyk and Adam Scott sat atop the leaderboard of the 95th PGA Championship at five-under-par 65. Both are seeking their second major championship.

Behind them sat Lee Westwood, the Ryder Cup veteran whose nickname could be The Best Player Never to Have Won a Major, and Hearn, a journeyman from Canada, at four under.

"No one is surprised to see Jim Furyk on top of any leaderboard," said Keegan Bradley, a relative unknown when he won the 2011 PGA. That came after victories by Y.E. Yang and Martin Kaymer.

Actually, Furyk might be after badly missing cuts at the U.S. Open, the British Open and the Players Championship.

"I never really strung four rounds together or always had a lapse in the middle of the day that ruined a round," Furyk said of a three-month stretch in which his best finish was a tie for 21st.

But Furyk posted back-to-back top-10 finishes entering this week and hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation Thursday, finishing his stroll around the East Course before the weather delay.

"I had some testy four-, five-, six-footers to start the day and I was able to knock a bunch of those in and get some rhythm with my putter," the 2003 U.S. Open champion said. "That eased some tension with the rest of my game."

The combination of no wind plus soft greens equaled licked chops for the field of 156, which placed 35 golfers below par. Granted, it's only one round. But that's no small feat on an Oak Hill layout that, in five previous majors, had yielded only 10 players finishing four rounds under par.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson didn't take advantage. Both shot 71, making double bogey on their final hole. Defending champion Rory McIlroy had a 69.

Furyk almost fell out of his corporate logos when he spun back one eight-iron approach, an example of the soft conditions.

"Don't usually see that," he said. "I would say conditions are about as good as they were going to be for scoring."

Scott, this year's Masters champion, would agree after making dropping five straight birdie putts on the front nine. He pushed his score to six under with a birdie on No. 14 before his lone bogey with a three-putt on No. 16 that had anomaly written all over it.

Scott needed only 22 putts on his round, including nine one-putts. No wonder he tied for first on the day in putts and scrambles, saving par six times.

"I hit a lot of balls close, so I didn't have too much putting to do," Scott said. "It was just cleanup work. You have to take advantage of that if it happens because it doesn't happen too often at majors."

Continuing a PGA tradition, Scott played with this year's other major winners, Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose. They did have to wait out the delay, returning to face the daunting tee shot on the 234-yard, par-three 11th.

Scott pulled that shot but saved par with — what else? — a one-putt.

"That settled me down," Scott said.

Other players have noted Scott's newfound confidence and calmness since prevailing at Augusta.

"I've put a lot into my game the last few years with a real focus on the big tournaments," Scott said.

Westwood has too, to no avail yet. But he enjoyed a bogey-free round that included a birdie on the brutal par-four 17th, the day's toughest hole.

And Hearn? He's here only because Brendan Jones withdrew.

"I'm excited about the next three days," Hearn said.

With six golfers at three under — some well known such as Paul Casey and Matt Kuchar, others grinders such as Robert Garrigus and Marcus Fraser — time will tell if this PGA remains for the big names or not.

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