Steady Fowler lurking at PGA; McIlroy scrambles into weekend

PGA Championship- Round One

Steady Fowler lurking at PGA; McIlroy scrambles into weekend

Quail Hollow figures into the family equation, too.

Soft fairways and rock-hard, ultra-fast greens yielded some major casualties, none more so than five-times major victor Phil Mickelson, whose 79 was his highest ever score in 95 rounds at the PGA Championship. Walker was 10-over with an 81 on Thursday at Quail Hollow Club. "I just didn't handle it very well", he said. "That's my plan. Other than that, I'm playing for par".

American leader Kevin Kisner was in the clubhouse on eight-under par 134 for 36 holes after his second consecutive four-under 67 but Day and Matsuyama were the first players to make a charge at him in the year's last major tournament. 7, 8, 14 and 15.

"The ball is coming out of the gun right where I'm looking at it", Kisner said.

Kisner even entertained the fans with a chip-in eagle on the par-five seventh hole - his 16th after starting on the back nine - and he proved low scores are achievable on the course.

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Kisner hasn't strayed far from his roots.

Where the son of Aiken, S.C., broke the mold is what he's done with an iron (normally of the mid- to long-iron variety) in his hand.

"Given it's the first round, I know I'm still in it, but I know that tomorrow's round becomes that much more important", Spieth said.

"It speaks to how well he's hitting it", figured Kisner's swing coach, John Tillery. "Length is a key factor out here, and especially when it's as wet as it is, it makes those fairways a bit wider".

"Obviously, Kiz is on fire right now", McIlroy said. "That's just a major".

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Championship favorite Rory McIlroy and grand slam seeker Jordan Spieth found it tough going, 10 and 11 strokes behind respectively. Just prior to that, he posted three straight top-6 finishes on the Euro Tour, including tied-career-bests with back-to-back T4s at the Irish and Scottish Opens, respectively.

But it was at Erin Hills where the seeds of his new subtle approach took hold.

There's also something to be said for Kisner's ability at overcoming the obvious at Quail Hollow. This is where bombers come to play, almost 4 and ½ miles of winding rough and rugged edges, particularly after a wet summer.

Kisner could have lamented his fate, grumbled about course set up and 524-yard par 4s, but instead he devised a plan and for two days has executed that blueprint to perfection. "He's matured a ton". But the PGA of America can't imagine having its major championship without them for the message it sends.

"If I was truly free, I wouldn't have cared", he said. With Sergio Garcia's popular victory at the Masters earlier this year, Fowler has in some minds inherited the dreaded title of "Best Golfer To Never Win A Major" - although Japan's Hideki Matsuyama is another strong contender for that moniker and another strong contender this weekend.

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The 51-year-old with the one-of-a-kind career certainly has a history of colorful episodes at majors. "That's the only way we know how to play".

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