The bar was set reasonably high for Rory McIlroy before he even took to the Valhalla Golf Club course in Louisville, Kentucky, for first-round play at the PGA Championship.
About 15 minutes before the winner of the 2014 Open Championship teed off, Lee Westwood and Kevin Chappell had streaked out to six-under starts.
McIlroy will need to continue his dominance if he's to be among the early leaders heading into Friday's action. Here's a look at the most-updated leaderboard.
The world No. 1 has been as good as ever over his last two tournaments. He blew away the field through three rounds and showed resiliency in holding off Fowler and Sergio Garcia on the final day of The Open Championship.
He was nearly as good last week in Akron, Ohio, at the Bridgestone Invitational. The pressure is on him to produce a similar performance in Louisville.
McIlroy looks like the surest bet to win this week, not because he has a win and three other top-10s in five previous PGA Championship starts — none of them were on this course, which last was on the world stage at the 2008 Ryder Cup and, before that, when Woods beat unheralded Bob May in a three-hole playoff to win the 2000 PGA.
But McIlroy is favored because he is playing spectacular golf: long and straight off the tee, spot-on with his wedges, and making a lot of putts.
We'll see if he can keep it up.
Despite declaring himself pain-free after Wednesday's practice round, per Bob Harig of ESPN.com, Tiger Woods hasn't found a rhythm in the first round. After the practice round, Woods said:
"I felt pretty good about how I played and the shots I hit. I have to get used to how this golf course is playing."
It looks like he's still getting acclimated. He was three over par for the day.
Woods began his day on the 10th hole, but back-to-back bogeys on the first and second put him in a bad predicament. Things could be worse, but sitting nine strokes behind the leaders after the first round isn't exactly what Woods had in mind coming into the tournament.
Is it too late for Woods to right the ship and become a factor? No, but based on what we've seen from him since he returned from his back injury, there's no reason to believe he'd be able to summon up the type of performance needed to get back into the hunt.
After an up-and-down first nine holes, Mickelson's chances to be a factor weren't looking too good. However, after birdies on the fourth, seventh and ninth holes, Lefty found himself two-under par to finish the day.
Mickelson's final-round 62 at the Bridgestone Invitational last week had many believing the 44-year-old was primed for a big performance. By the early afternoon, he was still five shots behind Westwood and Chappell, but Mickelson is at least on the right side of par.
As his career winds down, it becomes increasingly important that he take advantage of his realistic shots to win majors. As it stands, this tournament would qualify as a practical opportunity to add to his already impressive trophy case.
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