TULSA, Okla. -Round 1 at the 2022 PGA Championship delivered fabulous golf, blistering heat and one incredibly star-studded leaderboard at Southern Hills Country Club. At the top through 18 holes is two-time PGA Championship winner Rory McIlroy who stands as the solo leader amid a crowded list of contenders after turning in a pace-setting 5-under 65.
Still, for as good as McIlroy played – and he played really well! – this is far from a wrap after 18 holes as there’s a host of big names hot on his trail entering Round 2 on Friday. Will Zalatoris and Tom Hoge are the most immediate threats to unseat McIlroy at the top of the leaderboard after finishing one off McIlroy’s lead with matching 4-under 66s. But with 54 holes left to play, the field remains wide open. Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar and Abraham Ancer are each two off the pace with more than a half-dozen golfers-including Xander Schauffele and Cameron Smith-sitting three back of the lead at 2 under.
While stars did collect near the top, not every big name had a successful opening round. Tiger Woods struggled, finishing 4 overs in his quest to win his second PGA at Southern Hills 15 years removed from his classic 2007 win. Jordan Spieth also sputtered in his start to the week, with his rough outing finishing at 2 over. And both Brooks Koepka and Patrick Cantlay had forgettable rounds as well, turning in 75 and 76, respectively. Even the ever-steady Jon Rahm had some ups and downs before finishing at 3 over.
There’s lots of action to recap from the day that was so let’s do exactly that. Below is a rundown of the leaderboard as it stands after Round 1.
1. Rory McIlroy (-5): McIlroy’s 5-under 65 was his lowest score in an opening round at a major since the 2011 US Open at Congressional, an event he went on to win. It’s just the fourth time he’s opened a major with 66 or better, according to Justin Ray. And if history is any lesson, given he did exactly that the prior three times he scored that low across the first 18 holes. It’s been eight years since he last did that, of course, but that was also his last major title (a PGA Championship win at Valhalla). He displayed the classic Rory swagger all afternoon, and that was in no small part because his short game was among the best in the field to open the tournament.
T2. Will Zalatoris and Tom Hoge (-4): Zalatoris is a notoriously below average putter, so of course to open his round he was fabulous with the flat stick making several long ones to keep him afloat and he led the field in strokes gained in putting. Probably not sustainable, but he said post-round that something seemed to click for him Wednesday in the week leading up to his PGA prep, particularly with the putter. If he can marry the putting with the distance he already possesses, suddenly the 66 seems like something he can match heading into the weekend. Meanwhile, Hoge had an up and down start but really turned it on across his final 10 holes, going 33-33. This course demands precise iron play into greens, and he delivered that in a big way. Coming off a career-best major finish at the Masters, his approach game is crisp and fresh enough to at least have him in the mix headed into the weekend.
T4. Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar and Abraham Ancer (-3): Thomas is the headliner of this bunch with this being his best opening-round score at the PGA Championship in his seven starts. Kuchar had a bogey-free front nine to spur him to an opening-round 67, during which he gained nearly two strokes on approach, which this week is the name of the game. (Holing out from the bunker at nine helped.) Ancer, whose round was filled with the persistent scream of “Boomer!” by OU fans, played the par 4s at 3 under on the round and had a really nice day putting, even converting several from long distance.
T7. Xander Schauffele, Cameron Smith and nine others (-2): Schauffele quietly had a strong opening-round 68 with only two bogeys (14, 18) mixed in. Tee to green, he was great, and his approach game was good enough to keep him in the hunt. Speaking of: Smith was even better in that area, leading the field in strokes gained approach. If not for a double at 12, Smith is easily sitting with round-of-the-day stuff in his back pocket.
T66. Jordan Spieth and 22 others (+2): Spieth lost more than a stroke to the field putting in Round 1. He hit more greens than he missed but left himself in some awful spots even when he was hitting the greens. This course is punishing if you do that. It’s both a miracle he’s at 2 over and simultaneously infuriating as he could’ve easily been in the red sitting a different spot entering Round 2.
T102. Tiger Woods and 14 others (+4): Thursday at least started well for Tiger – he birdied the 10th, his first, just like he did when he won in 2007 – but. He had five bogeys in his last nine holes and seemed to wear down physically as the day went on, too, with a notable gimp becoming even more pronounced after his round ended. How he would hold up this week was always a question after he struggled to finish at the Masters last month, and it seems again a relevant concern as he looks to Friday with a real threat of missing the cut.
CBS Sports updated this story with scores and highlights from the PGA Championship below. Check out a more detailed leaderboard and our complete.