Sweden’s Henrik Stenson picked up where he left off last week in firing a solid two under par 68 during the first round of the US PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club.
Stenson has been in fine form of late with four top ten finishes in succession on The European Tour, including a runner-up spot in The Open Championship at Muirfield and a tied second at last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, a purple patch that has propelled the 37 year old to Number One in The 2013 Race to Dubai.
Despite finishing with two bogeys in his last three holes, the World Number 11 also made four birdies coming home after starting on the back nine on Thursday to finish three shots shy of the clubhouse lead of Jim Furyk.
“Overall, I'll take it for sure,” said seven-time European Tour winner Stenson. “I was a little bit steamy coming off but a 68 is never a bad first round in a Major Championship.
“I didn't play my best, though. I missed too many fairways but managed to still keep it together. I had a bad spell where I was hanging on for dear life but made a good run and finished with five birdies in my last ten holes so I can’t complain too much.
“I feel my energy levels are a little bit low so I’ll have a quick practice and then get out of here and try to rest.”
Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello matched Stenson’s two under par total of 68 during the first round in Rochester.
The 2012 Omega Dubai Desert Classic winner, this week making his second appearance at the US PGA, made two birdies and dropped just the one shot in a steady opening gambit and was rightly satisfied with his day’s work.
He said: “I played very well. I was solid from tee to green and on the greens as well, so it was pretty good all round.
"Luckily for us it rained last night so the greens were softer today and that made it easier to hit aggressively to the pins.
Cabrera-Bello, who finished tied 21st at Muirfield last month, added: "It is the first day, though, so I just wanted to start well and then we'll see what happens. The last time I played was The Open and I played well there. I'm happy that I have kept the good momentum going."