Skip to main content

Hot Temperatures, a Hot Start for Rory McIlroy and a Frigid Brooks Koepka: Day 1 Storylines

Slow starts have derailed Rory's hopes in a number of majors but an opening 65 has him atop the leaderboard in Tulsa and 10 clear of a slumping Brooks Koepka.

Fans flocked to see Tiger Woods make his first appearance since The Masters but what they were treated to in the end was Rory McIlroy bucking a trend of slow starts and charging out of the gates. After turning in 4 under, the 2014 PGA Champion punctuated his closing nine with a birdie at the last to finish 5 under, which held up throughout a steamy afternoon.

It’s hardly fathomable that it’s been eight years since McIlroy last won a major. Of course his chance at the career grand slam will have to wait another 11 months until he returns to Augusta, but as for this week, it seems perspective and a bit of self-deprecation might just be the perfect recipe.

Look no further than this moment in the press center where he pointed out to his daughter a photo of “when Daddy used to be good.” If he can keep up the momentum he built on Thursday, little Poppy may have a more recent photo to look at next year.

What happened to Brooks Koepka? There was a time when making the cut was hardly a consideration at majors and the more appropriate question was who would challenge him down the stretch. Tomorrow however, the two-time PGA Champion will have to fight just to stick around for the weekend.

Koepka’s week got off to a slow start when he locked his clubs in his car so perhaps it was that lost time that resulted in a very un-Brooksy like performance on Thursday. A birdie-free front nine added up to 40 and by day's end the final tally was a 5-over 75. 

Scroll to Continue

RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

Koepka famously corrected a reporter late last year that we had not yet seen peak Brooks Koepka. That version will need to be present tomorrow or an early exit will be in the works.

One of the unique aspects of the PGA Championship are the PGA Professionals – not to be confused with PGA Tour professionals – in the field. Twenty qualified to earn their way to Southern Hills and Jesse Mueller wasted no time making his mark. Playing the back nine first, Mueller found the fairway and then proceeded to hole out his second shot for an opening eagle.

Mueller, whose home is Grand Canyon University Club in Phoenix, Arizona, has had some success at big events before. In 2012 he qualified for and made the cut at the U.S. Open. He gave himself a chance to stay the weekend here in Tulsa as well, signing for a 2-over 72. 

It was a hot one Thursday with more warm temperatures in store tomorrow. On that note, one more thing before we wrap. Can someone get our man Harry Higgs a moisture-wicking polo?    

Photo courtesy @CPowers14 / Twitter

Photo courtesy @CPowers14 / Twitter

More PGA Championship Coverage from Morning Read:

> Round 1 Scores, Updates from Southern Hills
> Rory McIlroy Sprints Out of Gate with 65, Showing Confidence of Old
> UPS Dumps Lee Westwood on Heels of LIV Golf Waiver Request
> Tiger Woods Hobbles to 74 in Opening Round
> Jordan Spieth Plans to Get Aggressive After Conservative Opening Round
> Masters Champion Scottie Scheffler Scuffles to 71, But Could Have Been Worse

Click here to get all Morning Read news and commentary daily in your inbox for free.