Through the early action at Valhalla GC in Louisville, Kentucky, at the PGA Championship, most of the well-known players who have taken the course have gotten off to modest starts.
The top of the leaderboard is being occupied by the likes of Kevin Chappell, Joost Luiten, Brendan Todd and Freddie Jacobson. The most well-known player within a stroke of the lead is the red-hot Rickie Fowler.
After a slow start to the season, Fowler has kicked it into overdrive since the second week of June. He finished tied for second at the U.S. Open and The Open Championship, and he hasn't finished lower than 13th in any tournament he's played in over his last four outings.
Rickie Fowler's PGA is underway. Fowler: top-5 in each of season's 1st 3 majors, 1st player to do that since Tiger in 2005.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) August 7, 2014
Through 13 holes of play, Fowler sat at three-under par and two strokes behind Chappell. Here's a look at the most updated leaderboard.
Fowler knows how close he is to capturing his first major championship. Here's what he said to Michael Whitmer of The Boston Globe:
I’ve put myself in great positions. This year has definitely been the most comfortable I’ve felt in the majors, but I think the more that I can put myself in contention on Sunday, and possibly in the final group, I’ll just get more and more comfortable. Being comfortable means more confidence, and we’ll keep knocking at the door.
If he can continue to play the way he has Thursday through the weekend, he'll be in position to kick the door in.
Rory McIlroy, Sergio McIlroy, Bubba Watson and a host of other notables won't tee off until Thursday afternoon. The leaderboard could turn upside down once they hit the course.
Here's a look at two of the most prominent players who have actually played through a good portion of their first round.
Tiger Struggling Again
Tiger Woods just swung hard and yelled a bad word. In his defense, though, he sandwiched it with two words that are completely clean.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) August 7, 2014
He began his day on the 10th tee and came away from the first nine holes one-over par. Things took a turn for the worst when he began the final nine holes of the day. Woods bogeyed the first and second holes and desperately needs to finish strong to maintain a realistic shot at contending over the weekend.
He didn't look to be physically hindered, but he's still quite obviously not himself yet.
Phil Has Cooled Off
After a final round 62 at the Bridgestone Invitational last week in Akron, Phil Mickelson seemed to have established some momentum heading into the PGA Championship.
While his one-over par through 12 holes isn't a death blow to his chances, the up-and-down nature of his first nine holes are a microcosm of his inconsistent season.
Mickelson had three bogeys and two birdies in the first nine holes. If he was to put himself in optimal position heading into the second round, he'll need to string together some birdies to finish his day.
At 44, Mickelson's realistic chances of winning another major are getting a bit scant. He must seize these opportunities when the field hasn't run away from him early.