Thursday, 08 August 2013
Jim Furyk  (Getty Images)
Jim Furyk (Getty Images)
Jim Furyk rolled back the years to claim the clubhouse lead midway through the first round of the US PGA Championship as Paul Casey continued his return to form.

The 43 year old Furyk, whose only Major victory came at the US Open Championship ten years ago, finished one shy of the course record shared by Curtis Strange and Ben Hogan with his five under par 65.

Casey, who finished last year's US PGA Championship after two days with a round of 85, began the final Major of 2013 with a superb 67 at Oak Hill.

The former World Number Three, down at 169th in the Official World Golf Ranking after struggling for form and fitness before winning the Irish Open in June, carded five birdies and two bogeys to finish three under in a group that also contained Australian Marcus Fraser.

Defending champion Rory McIlroy was showing some of the swagger he had been looking for by watching videos of last year's eight-shot triumph at Kiawah Island, the World Number Three reaching the turn in three under largely thanks to three birdies in his first four holes.

Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez was four under after a front nine 32 which contained only one par was followed by a birdie at the 11th, Lee Westwood, seeking a first Major title at the 63rd attempt after narrowly missing out at The Open Championship, was three under after 11, while Masters Tournament winner Adam Scott carded five birdies in a row from the fourth to race to the turn in 30.

World Number One Tiger Woods, seeking his 15th Major title but a first since the 2008 US Open, was two under after six holes but eventually finished one over after a double-bogey six on the ninth, his final hole.

Casey had started inauspiciously with a bogey on the tenth and followed that with eight straight pars to the turn, but he then birdied five of his next seven holes and made sure to check out his name high on the leaderboard as he finished.

"It's a while since my name has been up there," said the 36 year old, who broke his collarbone snowboarding at the end of 2011. "It felt good.

"You don't realise how much you miss something until it's gone and sitting on the sofa watching the big events of the last year and a half I have had lots of extra motivation to get back.

"It added another reason for getting out there and working hard and things like Justin (Rose) winning the US Open is good fuel for the fire.

"I got a bit lucky today with a couple of monster birdie putts from 50 feet and 33 feet on the fifth and seventh, but we're off and running. I knew I had to get something going after the turn because I had got through the tough part of the course."

The early starters enjoyed perfect scoring conditions with an overnight thunderstorm softening the fairways and greens, and Furyk, looking to become the second 43 year old in succession to win a Major after Phil Mickelson's Open Championship triumph, was set to equal the course record of 64 when he reached six under, but bogeyed the last for a 65.

The former US Open Champion led by one from Canada's David Hearn, with Casey joined on three under by American pair Robert Garrigus and Matt Kuchar as well as Fraser.

“It was good,” said Fraser, who overcame a bogey-bogey start with five birdies. “I went out there and just gave it everything I had at the time. I’ve been struggling a bit, and everything sort of came together.  

“Everyone plays the golf course from the same spot. Sometimes when you're on the fairway, you're blocked out from some of the greens. It's not long, but if you're off line - that's what I did the first two holes.

“You can't shoot a good score without holing putts and I made a couple of long ones today and holed out pretty well, as well. I’m happy that everything came together for a change and been doing that for a while - it's the first round I've put together for a long time.”

McIlroy duffed a chip on the tenth and failed to get up and down from short of the 11th to card back-to-back bogeys before play was suspended at 4:25pm due to the threat of lightning from an approaching storm.

Westwood remained three under after 12 but would have a short birdie putt on the 13th on any resumption, whilel Jiménez was four under with six to play.

Tournament officials announced their intention to resume play at 5:35pm, a delay of 70 minutes which meant the first round could be completed on schedule this evening.

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