Woodland closes hot, leaps Fowler for PGA lead

Updated: August 9, 2018

ST. LOUIS — Gary Woodland bounced back from an opening bogey to shoot 6-under 64 on Thursday, moving him ahead of early leader Rickie Fowler in the PGA Championship at Bellerive.

Woodland was still scuffling along at 1 over until making birdie at the par-5 eighth. He added another to close out the front nine, then got hot over the final eight holes, making five birdies and steadily climbing the leaderboard on a steaming afternoon.

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  • Woodland got off to a good start last year, too. The Kansan shot 68 at Quail Hollow and was still within sight of the leaders entering the final round, when a 74 left him in a tie for 22nd.

    Zach Johnson and Brandon Stone were tied for third, two shots behind Woodland at 4-under 66.

    Johnson said he thinks he benefited from being one of the few players to drop in on Bellerive for a practice round last week, though not in the way you might think.

    Sure, it gave him a chance to see the course early. He was able to hit some different shots into greens and check run-outs and so forth. But the real benefit came this week, when he was able to take Monday off and then play nine holes each day Tuesday and Wednesday.

    Others who tried to pack more holes into their practice rounds were dragging in the hot, humid, St. Louis weather.

    Dustin Johnson shot 3-under 67, a solid start for the world’s top-ranked player but one that could have been even better. He had it to 5 under on the back nine before a couple of bogeys heading in dropped him back.

    Dustin Johnson said that Bellerive is playing difficult despite its wide fairways and generous greens, and that the key to getting around it in good shape is to hit those fairways off the tee.

    “If you mishit it, you’re not going to be in the fairway,” he said, “and if you miss the fairway, you’re really going to struggle.”

    Jordan Spieth spent most of his day play catch-up after a double-bogey at the first, and his 1-over 71 in the opening round of the PGA Championship left him seven shots off the pace.

    Spieth arrived at Bellerive trying to complete the career grand slam, but he never seemed to get his round going. He fought back to even par after a birdie at the 15th, but a pair of wayward shots led to another bogey at the par-5 17th and a bitter taste in his mouth.

    Spieth won’t have much time to figure out what went wrong. He goes off at 8:12 a.m. on Friday.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Article source: http://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/24334141/gary-woodland-leads-pga-championship-opening-round-6-64