Kiawah Island may well be much more selective than in 2012 during the last visit of the USPGA, Corey Conners still made him surrender. Passed pro in 2015 and current 39th world, the Canadian succeeded Thursday in South Carolina a first card in 67 (-5), in front of the 10,000 authorized spectators.
A round formulated as follows: -2 in the first leg (birdie 2, 5 and 7) and a return in -3 (birdie 11, 15 and 16). Skillful at finding fairways (71% of pistes affected) and not clumsy on greens (+3.7 to stroke gained putting), Conners only dropped one point in the strong wind, from a bogey at hole number 9.
Alone in the lead with this 67 (-5), the winner of the Texas Open 2019 has two steps ahead of a sacred troop of equal for 2nd place, where we find in particular Keegan Bradley or especially Brooks Koepka (despite an initial double-bogey), but also the Norwegian nugget Viktor Hovland.
At the heart of the top 10, there are also other Grand Slam winners or regulars of his leaderboards, such as the now senior Phil Mickelson, who signs a 70 (-2, 8th), just like the defending champion Collin Morikawa, Gary Woodland or Branden Grace.
Kiawah bit them
On the side of the beatings of the day, or at least disappointments, we can name Rory McIlroy. Winner last week in Texas after a year and a half without success, the Briton once again started badly in Major (+35 on Thursday, since his victory at The Open 2014).
With his drive lost in the ocean from hole 1, his nine greens affected and the resulting 75, the 7th in the world is relegated to 77th place, tied with a Justin Thomas not much sharper on Thursday.
Tommy Fleetwood did not resist the seaside course (76, 99th), a blow ahead of other Ryder Cup alumni Danny Willett, Alex Noren or Sergio Garcia (110th).
The French in great danger
On the side of the two French engaged, it is hardly more flamboyant. Antoine Rozner, who is making his Grand Slam debut, took his feet in the carpet from the impulse of his Thursday. With two triple bogeys on his first leg and a final score of 79 (138th), he almost said goodbye to the weekend, even if his last 9 holes in -1 will give him some hope.
More experienced at the highest level, Victor Perez will also have left most of his hopes for the return of Kiawah (the two Habs started from 10). With a triple bogey at hole 15, the Tarbais, weighted down by its five other bogeys scattered over the rest of its map, is in 127th place (78), four strokes from the provisional cut.