The first round of the 2011 PGA Grand Slam of Golf is history. Keegan Bradley (PGA Championship winner) and Rory McIlroy (US Open Winner) both shot 67 and are tied for the lead at four-under.
Charl Schwartzel (Masters Winner) is a distant third at three-over, while Darren Clarke (British Open winner) is even further at six-over.
With only one more round to be played, both Schwartzel and Clarke are basically out of the running for the win at this moment. This means that tomorrow is a mano-a-mano between Bradley and McIlroy for the top prize.
Bradley started with a bogey on the par-four first hole, but came back to make an eagle on the second and birdie on the third to take the early lead at two-under.
McIlroy made par on the first four holes, while Schwartzel had a birdie on the second to get to one-under. Clarke made bogey on the first, third and fourth holes to quickly fall to three-over for the day.
Bradley continued his blazing start, making a birdie on the par-four sixth and eagle on the par-five seventh. He made the turn after a birdie on the par-four ninth. He was at six-under after nine.
Schwartzel added another birdie on the seventh, while McIlroy birdied the fourth and seventh holes. Both were bogey-free and at two-under exiting their front nine.
Clarke seemed to make a charge with back-to-back birdies on the sixth and seventh holes to get to one-over. But a bogey on eight dropped him back to two-over before making the turn.
At this moment, it looked like Bradley was going to run away and open a commanding lead to finish the first round.
Bradley did not make another birdie the rest of the way. He bogeyed on the par-four 14th and on the toughest hole of the field, the par-three 16th. He was able to save par on the rest and finish his round at four-under.
McIlroy came alive on the back-nine. He had a birdie between bogeys on the par-four 11th and par-three 13th. Then he started to play his best golf. He birdied back-to-back the next two holes.
He was the only one to make par on the intimidating par-three 16th; all others made bogey or worse. He then birdied on the par-five 17th, tying Bradley at four-under. He finished with a par on the par-four 18th hole.
Meanwhile, Schwartzel's wheels fell off in the back nine. He had a three-hole bogey stretch starting on the par-four 12th. He fell to one-over at that moment.
He was able to get one shot back with a birdie on the par-four 15th, getting to even-par. But once again the world famous 16th claimed another victim. Schwartzel made double-bogey to drop to three-over. He made par on 18th.
Clarke sat at two-over until he reached the dreaded 16th, where he made double-bogey. That basically put him out of contention at five-over and capped his round with another bogey on 18th.
A tale of two nines—yin and yang for Bradley and McIlroy. It gets down to a one-round shootout for them tomorrow.
With Schwartzel seven shots back, he would need to play a flawless round tomorrow, and Bradley and McIlroy to come down to him. Not likely. Clarke is definitely going to play a practice round tomorrow.
The par-three 16th will most definitely play a role tomorrow in the winner's fate.
With the Atlantic Ocean surrounding the hole, it plays the part of the world's biggest hazard. It has an astoundingly beautiful setting and view, but is most definitely an intimidating hole and the most difficult to play.
McIlroy looks to have an edge, since he is carrying the momentum to the second round. With two young guns showing off their skills and a will to win, it will be an interesting mano-a-mano between them tomorrow.