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Friday, 19 March 2010
PGA Championship - Round One  (Getty Images)
PGA Championship - Round One (Getty Images)

Robert Karlsson and Jeev Milkha Singh shared the clubhouse lead at the end of the first day of the US PGA Championship after shooting fine rounds of 68.

The duo both started slowly, with India’s Singh taking a bogey five at the first and Sweden’s Karlsson racking up a six, but superb recoveries saw them in the clubhouse on two under par.

They are joined on that mark by Andres Romero, but the Argentine still has two holes to complete after play was suspended with an 85-minute adverse weather delay.

Romero, who came agonisingly close to winning The 2007 Open at Carnoustie but has not made the cut in his previous two assaults on this event, immediately looked likely to buck the trend when he collected strokes at both the second and eighth holes.

He gave one back at the ninth, but a birdie four at the 593 yard 12th followed by six pars gave him a share of the lead.

Sweden’s Karlsson could hardly have gotten off to a worse start, but he bounced straight back with birdies at the second, third and fourth holes.

He collected further strokes at the sixth and eighth to go out in 32 before another birdie at the 11th took him to four under par. A pair of pars came at the next two as he continued to dominate the leaderboard, but back-to-back bogeys at the 14th and 15th just took the gloss off a round of 68.

“It was great,” Karlsson said. “Actually I played really, really well.

“Early in the morning, the greens were very soft and from when we played the practice rounds and today they were firm, and I went for the pin at the first; silly boy.

“But then I played really well on the front nine and got the putter going. I mean, the greens were absolutely perfect, so once I rolled a couple in, just keep going, so it was good.”

India’s Singh, meanwhile, also looked set for a tough day, but like Karlsson he recovered immediately.

He collected an eagle three at the second to go one under and then birdied the fifth to move into contention. Bogeys at the seventh and tenth took away his momentum, but Singh finished with a flourish by taking birdies at the 15th and 17th.

He revealed he is playing through the pain barrier. He said: “I’ve been suffering with a little tendon running through the ankle on my right foot, it's got a lot of pain.

“I've been wearing a brace for the last four weeks. I did injure it just before the Open de France ALSTOM; that was about seven, eight weeks ago. I've been getting a lot of physio done and it gets better, but you hit one of those shots out of the rough and I'm back to square one.”
 
After suffering the injury, Singh won both the Bank Austria GolfOpen presented by Telekom Austria and the Nagashima Shigeo INVITATIONAL SEGA SAMMY Cup but he admitted he was in Detroit playing against doctor’s orders after undergoing an MRI scan three weeks ago.

“The doctor said I need four weeks off and the caution I put up to him was, ‘Well, does two weeks help?’ And he said ‘no’. He said there's a lot of fluid and that means a lot of inflammation in there.

“Then I decided if I'm going to play the US PGA Championship I'm going to push myself through to this week and next week and after that I'm surely taking two weeks off, maybe I'm going to extend it to four.

“So it depends how the ankle holds up. It feels fine, but the more drivers I hit, I feel it just kind of comes back. And you do need to hit a lot of drivers on this golf course.”

Sergio Garcia, who finished second at this event on his debut in 1999, is also in the hunt having carded a one under par 69. The Spaniard started on the tenth and was soon in his stride with a birdie at the 13th hole.

A bogey at the 498 yard 18th hole brought him back to level par, but he collected a stroke with a birdie three at the sixth.

Afterwards he admitted he was happy with his short game. He said: “There were a couple of tee shots here and there that I wasn't 100% and I felt good, and obviously they weren't very good.

“But I scrambled nicely. I putted good. I chipped good. I hit a lot of good shots into the greens and you know, one under par on this course, I'm thrilled with it. So hopefully I can go to the range and get a little bit more confidence in my driving abilities, because you have to be in the fairway on this course. You can't be missing a lot of fairways and expect to do well throughout the whole week. It's too much of a gamble.”

Elsewhere, Retief Goosen endured mixed fortunes in his round of 72.

The South African stormed to four under par after just seven holes, but gave back shots at the eighth, ninth, 12th, 13th, 16th and 18th to finish two over.

It leaves him a shot behind Padraig Harrington, who also faded after a rapid start.

The Irishman, looking to add another Major to the back-to-back titles he has collected at The Open Championship, charged to three under with birdies at the first, second and third, but then faltered.

He dropped strokes at the seventh and ninth before shipping another couple of bogeys at the 12th and 13th to go one over. He pulled one back at the 14th, but a bogey on the 17th nullified the effort.

Ernie Els also shot 71, as did Henrik Stenson and Peter Hanson, while World Number Two Phil Mickelson was among those on level par along with Angel Cabrera.

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