The 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club appeared to be headed towards becoming a low-scoring affair. Gary Woodland pushed the lead deep into the red numbers late in the afternoon with his 6-under 64, besting Rickie Fowler's round of the day (65) from the morning, but a majority of the contenders had to battle back from bogeys and double-bogeys around an unfamiliar track and finished the day closer to even par.
Only 31 of the 156 players in the field shot 2-under or better, and more than 40 golfers in the field are packed in ties between 1-under and 1-over. Former major winners like Dustin Johnson and Jason Day are lurking ahead of that pack, but it still feels like anyone within six strokes of the lead has a chance.
Among the group at even par are Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. Along with Justin Thomas (-1), they battled through a morning round of ups and downs in the premiere supergroup of the day. None of the three are totally out of it, but there's dozens of names between them and Fowler on the leaderboard after one round of play and a lot of ground to make up.
So while there's a couple of names out in front, this still feels like a wide open tournament after 18 holes. Storms during the week limited the practice time, and after getting a good look at the course, we should expect more aggressive play and lower scores in Round 2.
Here's how the leaderboard looks going into Friday ...
1. Gary Woodland (-6): One of the field's better drivers of the golf ball caught fire on the back nine, throwing down a five-birdie 30 to close out his 64. The former Kansas Jayhawk had a big crowd of friends and family pumping him up through the round, which one of the best putting rounds of his career.
2. Rickie Fowler (-5): Playing what he described as "target golf," Fowler avoided trouble and breezed his way around the course to tie his best score in a major and take the clubhouse lead (which held until Woodland's late afternoon 64).
T3. Zach Johnson (-4): When it was predicted that Bellerive would be beneficial to the bombers off the tee, experts started to trend away from Johnson with their picks. But why not ZJ? He barely hit half of the greens in regulation during his 66 but still finished with five birdies while having one of the shorter driving averages in the field.
T3. Brandon Stone (-4): Thursday's 66 was Stone's best-ever round in a major championship, and he continues to ride momentum from a strong Scottish Open performance last month. He putted the ball well and the swing looked good, making Stone a serious dark horse to keep your eye on going into Friday.
T5. Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Kevin Kisner, Pat Perez, Thomas Pieters, Stewart Cink, Ollie Schniederjans, Austin Cook, (-3): DJ flirted with the lead late Thursday afternoon before carding two bogeys on the final five holes to fall back to this crowded group at 3-under. Day was rock solid through the morning. Poulter started hot and then cooled off. Anyone from this group is going to sleep tonight feeling like they have a shot to win the 2018 PGA Championship.
Miss anything from Thursday's action? Check out the scores, analysis and highlights in our application below. If you are unable to view the updates below, please.
Thanks for stopping by.