Sparkling Koepka holds early US PGA lead as Woods struggles

Brooks Koepka

Defending champion Brooks Koepka is the clubhouse leader after hitting a seven-under 63 during the first round of the US PGA Championship on Long Island.

The American, playing with Tiger Woods, tamed the Bethpage Black Course with seven birdies to sit four shots ahead of England’s Tommy Fleetwood (67).

Woods, chasing a 16th major after winning the US Masters last month, struggled as he finished on two over.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlory is among the late starters.

Woods, who ended an 11-year wait to win a major at Augusta National in April, had a mixed round, starting with a double bogey on the 10th hole, his first, before adding another on the par-three 17th.

However, the 43-year-old birdied the first and second holes before a 25-foot putt for eagle on the fourth hole moved him to one under.

But three further bogies left him nine shots behind three-time major winner Koepka, who carded a bogey-free round having said earlier this week he is aiming for “double digit” victories in the sport’s biggest events.

Open champion Francesco Molinari, who played in the same group as Woods and Koepka, could not match his big-hitting rivals and often laid up, finishing on two over.

England’s Matt Wallace, who narrowly missed out on victory at last week’s British Masters, and American Rickie Fowler are among a group on one under.

France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vela and America’s Chez Reavie are a shot further ahead after carding 68s.

More to follow.

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