What to watch for after round 1 of the PGA Championship

 By Aaron Wayne White

August 10, 2017

The sun has set on Quail Hollow, and Round 1 of the 2017 PGA Championship is in the books. Here are a few things we learned from Thursday’s action, and some stories to keep an eye on as the competition continues:

Favorites Struggle – Jordan Speith and Rory McIlroy were undoubtedly two of the favorites to leave the Queen City with the Wanamaker Trophy, but each saw their fair share of setbacks during the first round. While Spieth had an incredible lag putt on the 12th hole, the 24-year-old struggled with his putting throughout the day, and finished one over. If Speith is to make history as the youngest career Grand Slam winner, he will have to play the next three rounds almost flawlessly. Rory McIlory finished with the same score, thanks in large part to three bogeys on par 3 holes. McIlroy’s record at Quail Hollow is rather impeccable, and he will have to return to form if he wants to capture his second PGA Championship.

Mother Nature – While today was very hot and humid, the rest of the forecast for the 2017 PGA Championship is a bit more ominous, and a thunderstorm or two during the weekend appears inevitable. Even though the weather was pleasant on Thursday, the relentless heat still held a role in player’s performance, as several golfers appeared fatigued before they even started the back nine.

No Magic for Mickelson Another fan favorite who failed to put together a good round was Phil Mickelson. Mickelson’s mark of 79 was the highest single round score of his career at a PGA Championship, and he failed to record a single birdie. Lefty had said earlier this week that he believed the recent changes made to the course at Quail Hollow had made it more difficult, and he seemed to prove his own thesis on Thursday. While fans are used to Mickelson contending for the win at the PGA Championship, this year he’ll be fortunate if he simply makes the cut.

Who are Thorbjorn Olesen and Kevin Kisner? – When round one ended, the first two names on the leaderboard was a 27 year old Dane named Thorbjorn Olesen and 11 year veteran Kevin Kisner. While serious golf fans might already know them, they are far from household names, but that could all change if they carry the momentum from Thursday through the next three days. Neither of them have finished better than 18th in a PGA Championship, but with the big favorites facing early struggles, the door is open for a breakthrough winner.

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