Ireland’s Shane Lowry was amongst the opening group to tee off from the first hole at Oak Hill Country Club, with it officially launching the season’s final Major as the 95th US PGA Championship got underway.
The 26 year old Clara native, who won the Irish Open as an amateur in 2009 before adding the Portugal Masters last year, selected driver at the 460-yard par four first, hitting a high fade that found the second cut of rough on the right hand side of the fairway.
Lowry, decked out smartly in white cap, white shirt and navy blue trousers, is playing the first two rounds alongside Australia’s John Senden and PGA Club Professional Rob Labritz and the opening trio made par, par and double bogey respectively to start their championship weeks.
After thunderstorms had deposited two inches of rain on the Rochester course overnight, play still began on schedule at precisely 0710 local time.
With the famous Wannamaker trophy sitting astride the first tee box, and in the shadow of the imposing, ivy-clad mock Tudor clubhouse, the sun broke through a mostly-overcast sky right on cue for the opening blows of the tournament, flooding the first fairway in pale golden light.
The course soft from the overnight precipitation, and not even a ripple of breeze in the boughs of the hundreds of oaks, maples and pines that line the spectacular New York state layout, conditions appeared favourable for some low scoring as the opening morning progressed.
Notable European Tour names out early at Oak Hill were 2012 Ryder Cup team-mates Sergio Garcia (0755) and Graeme McDowell (0805), with 2008 US PGA Champion Padraig Harrington following at 0815.
Last year's champion Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, does not launch his defence until 1325 alongside Fiji's Vijay Singh and 2012 US PGA Champion Martin Kaymer.