Talin Rajendranath, the Caribbean’s highest finishing player on day one of the BMW Jamaica Classic, believes conditions were ideal for good golf on day one of the tournament.

The Trinidad and Tobago native, who turned pro last October, finished with 70, five strokes behind the day one leaders Tom Whitney, Hunter Hamrick and Stephen Thomas who were tied for the lead. 

Rajendranath had somewhat of a slow start on the back nine but picked up momentum on the front, which he hopes to take into tomorrow.  On the back nine he bogeyed the 13th and 14th holes, scoring a birdie and the 11th and 17th.  He shot birdies on the third, 5th on 6th holes on the front nine but registered a bogey on the 7th.

“It’s been good.  I struggled on the backend a little bit but I came back nicely on the front.  Even par on the back got some three birdies on the front,” Rajendranath told SportsMax.tv.

   “Unfortunately, I made a bogey coming in but really good conditions out there, I love the course and I look forward to tomorrow.”

 

Top-ranked Tom Whitney was off to a fast start on the opening day of the BMW Jamaica Classic PGA but settled for a share of the lead in a three-way tie with Stephen Thomas and Hunter Hamrick, at the par-72 Cinnamon Hill Golf Course on Thursday. 

Former world number one Rory McIlroy is hoping his final-hole birdie can kick-start his US PGA Championship bid following a difficult round.

McIlroy found the going tough at Bethpage Black, where the four-time major champion carded a two-over-par 72 in the opening round in Farmingdale, New York on Thursday.

A two-time winner of the US PGA – with his last triumph coming in 2014 – McIlroy did not birdie a hole until the last as the Northern Irishman ended the opening round nine shots adrift of leader Brooks Koepka.

"It was either wrong speed at some times or sometimes just a little bit of line, either way, you know, high or low," McIlroy said as he discussed his performance. "And just keep it hitting good putts. That's all you can do.

"I guess it's early in the tournament. Keep hitting good shots. Don't let it frustrate you. Keep hitting good putts. Eventually things will turn.

"Hopefully that birdie on the last was the turning point, finish on a positive note and come back tomorrow and hopefully get into red figures for the tournament."

While McIlroy struggled, reigning champion Koepka managed to shoot a 63 as Danny Lee signed off with a six-under-par 64 on day one.

"There's a couple of loose scores. If you can put the ball in play and give yourself chances, I felt like I gave myself enough chances today to shoot something sort of in the mid-60s," McIlroy said. "But, yeah it gives me hope. It gives me hope I can go out tomorrow and shoot a low one."

"There's definitely a lot of difference between a 75 and a 63," the 30-year-old continued. "But around this golf course, the margins are fine. And if you miss the fairway by a yard or two, it can make the difference between hitting a shot into 10 feet and having a birdie chance or having to get up-and-down from 100 yards for par.

"But I did that well tonight. Hit enough fairways, felt like I hit enough greens, and, you know, hit good putts, and some days they just find a way to not go in."

McIlroy – who has not won a major since 2014 – added: "The birdie at the last was great. I'm happy to get that birdie. And as I said, hopefully it's the turning point in not the way I've played, but just in my scoring and taking advantage of the shots I've been hitting."

Phil Mickelson was happy with his form to begin the US PGA Championship as he described the Bethpage Black course as a fair but tough test.

Mickelson shot a one-under 69 to finish the first round tied for ninth alongside the likes of Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth.

He had some trouble to start his day as he went to the ninth hole at two over, but he birdied three of his next four holes to move to one under – six shots behind leader Brooks Koepka.

"I let a lot of shots slide the first eight holes and then I made up a lot of shots off the last 10, so the game feels good," Mickelson told TNT after his round.

"The golf course is such a good, fair, hard, tough test but if you play well you saw a couple guys go really low, you can do that out there, it's set up very fair, but if you don't play well you can see a lot of guys go high."

Koepka leads at seven under and Danny Lee sits one shot back, but, after that, Tommy Fleetwood is at three under.

There were a lot of players who finished the day over par as they struggled with the length and difficulty of the course.

"It is a challenging long golf course, and what's cool about it is we're playing major championships on a municipal golf course," Mickelson said.

"And Bethpage 2002 really set the tone in doing that for the first time, I think it's really neat."

Mickelson – whose one US PGA Championship victory came in the tri-state area in 2005 – found himself surrounded by crowds throughout the day and revelled in the atmosphere after his round.

"It's the best," he said.

"It's hard to explain how good it feels to walk up 18 and have that reception, it means a lot to me and I'm very appreciative and I love coming back to this area."

Brooks Koepka began the defence of his US PGA Championship title in impressive fashion but still finished the opening round with just a one-shot lead over Danny Lee.

While plenty were caught up in the long rough at Bethpage Black, Koepka produced a blemish-free 63 after an early start on Thursday to set the clubhouse target.

Starting on the back nine, the American began with a birdie thanks to a long putt and went on to clinically set a new course record, despite failing to pick up a shot at either of the par-five holes.

Koepka's seven-under total made him just the third player to shoot multiple scores of 63 or better at majors, a feat only previously achieved by Greg Norman and Vijay Singh.

It appeared set to give him a comfortable cushion going into Friday until Lee made the most of a hot putter to open with a 64, the best round of his career in a major.

The New Zealander needed just 21 putts and while dropped shots at the fifth and 15th hampered his progress, back-to-back birdies to finish made sure he was breathing down Koepka's neck at the top of the leaderboard.

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood sits alone in third place on three under, one clear of a five-man group that includes American trio Chez Reavie, Luke List and Pat Perez. Also on two under are South Korean Sung Kang and Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera.

Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth are on one under – the same score as Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson – but it was a tougher day for some of the other big names in the field.

Tiger Woods, playing alongside Koepka and Francesco Molinari, began with a double-bogey six and while two birdies and an eagle after the turn saw him move under par, the Masters champion dropped three shots over his closing five holes to sit on two over.

Rory McIlroy is on the same score as Woods, though only thanks to a three at the par-four 18th.

Dustin Johnson was satisfied despite rueing missed opportunities during his first round at the US PGA Championship on Thursday.

The American fired a one-under 69 at Bethpage Black to be six shots behind leader Brooks Koepka in New York.

Johnson was happy with how he played, but he knows he could have scored better.

"I hit it really well," the world number one told TNT after his round.

"I drove it good, hit a lot of greens, gave myself a lot of opportunities, I felt like I hit a lot of good putts that a few of them could have gone in that didn't.

"But I'm very happy with the way I played and the opportunities I gave myself."

Johnson made two birdies and one bogey in his round. The lone bogey came on the first hole and he kept a clean card from there on out.

He said he can definitely play better, but he was happy to be at least in shouting distance of Koepka.

"I drove it very well so I was very pleased with the driving," Johnson said. "You know, make a few more putts, that's about it, but you can always make more putts.

"I like the way I swung the golf club and I thought I controlled the golf ball very well and you know, it's just a hard golf course, it's hard to get it close to the hole and a lot of these holes it's hard to hit the fairway.

"So I just need to do a little bit more of that tomorrow, hit it in the fairway and just give myself more opportunities."

Danny Lee was pleased to make the most of his opportunities after shooting a six-under 64 in the opening round at the US PGA Championship.

The New Zealander climbed into outright second after posting eight birdies and two bogeys at Bethpage Black in New York on Thursday.

Lee, whose best major finish was a tie for 17th at the 2016 Masters, capitalised on the par-threes, birdieing three of the four shorter holes.

The 28-year-old said he was able to take his chances to sit a shot behind defending champion Brooks Koepka.

"I can't remember every single shot I hit, but the only thing I can remember is whenever I hit it on the fairway, I was able to convert that to the birdie," Lee told a news conference.

"I think I made a lot of good up-and-downs, I think, even when I missed the fairway."

On his success at the par-threes, Lee said: "My iron game has been always good, and I always have a lot of confidence in them.

"And I guess I really liked the pin locations, what they gave us, and I was able to go straight at it every single time."

While Lee was impressive, the day belonged to Koepka as the American set a new course record with his seven-under 63.

But the three-time major champion's round came as no shock to Lee.

"I wasn't surprised when Brooks shot seven under this morning. I mean, have you seen him playing U.S. Opens and PGA Championships the last three years?" he said.

"When you're hitting driver, pitching wedge every hole. I wasn't surprised at all. But it didn't change my game plan at all.

"I'm not like Brooks Koepka long, but I can carry it about 290, 300 now. My mindset was honestly some kind of under-par round would be good, but obviously I did a lot better than that and I was very pleased with it."

Rory McIlroy failed to muster a birdie in a two-over front nine at the US PGA Championship as Danny Lee threatened to challenge Brooks Koepka's place at the top of the leaderboard.

Koepka set a challenging target in the clubhouse with a stunning opening round of 63, the defending champion's blemish-free effort leaving him clear at seven under.

The American's performance overshadowed playing partner Tiger Woods, who ended up signing for a two-over 72.

Out later in the day, McIlroy's hopes of making an impact in the opening round were hampered when he bogeyed his first hole.

The 2014 champion also dropped another shot at the eighth to reach the turn in 37, leaving him languishing down in a tie for 60th.

In contrast, New Zealander Lee surged through to five under after 14 holes before a bogey at the 15th saw him slip three shots behind Koepka.

Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth were at level par after 10 holes, the latter suffering a double-bogey six at the taxing 10th to spoil what had been a solid round up to that stage.

Brooks Koepka may have set a new course record at Bethpage Black but the defending champion felt he could have gone even lower in his opening round at the US PGA Championship.

Having started out on the back nine, Koepka signed for a blemish-free score of 63 as he overshadowed playing partners Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari on Thursday.

The American carded seven birdies to set the early pace in the clubhouse, though he insisted afterwards that a 60 was possible, had he taken his opportunities.

He had three missed birdie putts from 10 feet or less, as well as failing to capitalise on the two par-five holes.

"Well, I didn't take care of the par fives, didn't birdie any of the par fives," Koepka lamented to the media. "That was disappointing, because I felt like, you know, those are holes you should be able to birdie.

"Definitely can reach, what is it, four and [I] just hit a bad drive there. And then 13 I can get there too, I just hit it in the bunker.

"And then the second hole today, my 11th hole, I missed about a five-footer. That would have been nice to shoot 60. I guess that would have been pretty good."

Koepka, who turned 29 towards the start of the month, is chasing a fourth major, having defended his U.S. Open title last year following his maiden victory at Erin Hills in 2017.

"I think I'm still learning, understanding my game, and I've figured it out, and I think, over the next few years, I'm excited for what's to come," he added.

"I understand a lot more about my misses, where to hit it, and major championships I just suck it up, and you don't always have to aim at the flag like you do in regular events. Sometimes it's just about how few bogeys and doubles you make this week."

Playing alongside Woods - who finished at two over - made sure plenty of spectators followed Koepka's stunning exploits, though he welcomed the presence of a vocal following in New York.

"I think it's fun when they're getting loud, they're rowdy," he said of the fans. "I enjoy when they can really get behind you. You definitely want them on your side this week, that's for sure."

Tiger Woods reflected on a topsy-turvy opening round at the US PGA Championship after a poor start and a disappointing finish left him well adrift of leader Brooks Koepka.

Having opted to rest rather than practice on Wednesday - a decision he confirmed was down to him "not feeling good" - Woods began his bid for victory at Bethpage Black with a double-bogey six.

This year's Masters champion reached the turn at three over before a run of two birdies and an eagle in four holes had him under par, raising hopes of closing the gap on in-form playing partner Koepka.

However, the 43-year-old faltered in the closing stages, three bogeys leaving him to sign for a two-over-par score of 72.

"It wasn't as clean as I'd like to have it for sure," Woods told the media.

"[I] didn't get off to a very good start. It was a good drive and ended up in a bad spot, and I compounded the problem with trying to use the backboard behind the hole there and missing a putt I should have made.

"And then I found my way back around, got it back under par for the day, and let a couple slip away with a couple [of] bad putts and a couple [of] mistakes at the end."

Koepka had no such issues on Thursday, the defending champion firing a brilliant bogey-free 63 to sit on seven under.

Asked about the possibility of catching his fellow American, Woods replied: "We'll see what the golf course offers up tomorrow.

"It changed quite a bit from when we played this morning to this afternoon. The greens got a lot faster. We'll see how it dries out over the next few days.

"I don't see them cutting the rough down, so it's just going to place another premium on driving the ball in the fairway to get at some of these flags."

Brooks Koepka made US PGA Championship history on Thursday but it was a testing first round for Tiger Woods at Bethpage Black.

Defending champion Koepka carded a sublime seven-under-par 63 and was leading by four shots from Tommy Fleetwood after his opening 18 holes.

Koepka is the first player to card 63 in back-to-back PGA Championships, making seven birdies in a dazzling bogey-free round at a long and difficult course in Long Island, New York.

Much was expected of Woods after he ended an 11-year wait for major glory with his triumph at the Masters last month.

But the 43-year-old, starting at the 10th and playing with Koepka and Open champion Francesco Molinari, began his round with a double-bogey six and, although a birdie at the 15th followed, another double at 17 saw him reach the turn at three over.

Woods went four under to start his homeward stretch, but a run of three dropped shots between the fifth and eighth holes meant he ended up nine shots off the lead at two over par.

Luke List, Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Chez Reavie were all in the clubhouse at two under, while Paul Casey and Gary Woodland were on the same score having played five and four holes respectively.

Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, who were among the day's later starters – they were each one over in the early stages.

Tiger Woods dug himself an early hole with two double-bogeys on his first nine at the US PGA Championship and hit the turn on three over as Brooks Koepka moved into a share of the lead at Bethpage Black.

Making his first competitive start since winning the Masters in April, Woods - starting at the 10th hole with Koepka and Francesco Molinari - found the right rough with his first tee shot and learned early on that recent frequent rain on Long Island, New York, was going to make the rough particularly punishing on an already tough course.

He was forced to hack out, then knocked a third-shot approach over the back of the green and missed a four-foot putt for bogey coming back.

Just like that, he was two over a hole into the year's second major, which defending champion Koepka led along with Tommy Fleetwood on four under through 10 and 13 holes respectively.

Woods was able to steady himself with pars over the next four holes before cashing in his first good look at birdie on the par-four 15th hole by rolling in a 15-footer breaking left to right.

He avoided giving that shot right back on 16, again forced to merely put the back in the fairway after an errant drive but then nearly holing out on his third shot and then saving par with a short putt.

However, the American found a bunker on the 199-yard par-three 14th and had to blast out from an awkward stance, but compounded his problems by being over-aggressive with his par putt. After running the putt some 10 feet past the hole, he missed his bogey putt coming back.

A good approach to 20 feet on 18 was not rewarded as Woods missed the birdie putt and made the turn at three over, but he birdied the next two holes to regain some momentum.

Koepka opened with a birdie and added two more - at the par-three 14th, rolling in a 20-footer, and another at 18 - to make the turn at three under.

World number three Koepka birdied his 10th hole of the day to take a sole lead at four under before Englishman Fleetwood moved alongside him with a fifth birdie of the day.

Tiger Woods endured a difficult start at the US PGA Championship, carding a double bogey at his opening hole, but defending champion Brooks Koepka began in promising fashion.

Having opted to rest instead of practice on the eve of the second major of the year, Woods was an early starter at Bethpage Black as he teed off at the par-four 10th hole on Thursday.

His drive rolled into the rough and the Masters champion needed a further three shots to get on the green, where he missed a six-foot putt for bogey.

The 43-year-old quickly recovered from the setback, though, as he carded pars at his next two holes to remain at two over par.

Woods was not the only early starter to struggle at the testing 10th, though Koepka showed the rest of the field how it should be played with a superb birdie.

The three-time major champion found the cup with a long-range putt from just off the edge of the green, his attempt making contact with the flag before dropping in for a three.

There was an air of anticipation when the US PGA Championship got under way on Thursday with Tiger Woods and defending champion Brooks Koepka preparing to tee off at 8.24am local time.

Rob Labritz, Beau Hossler and J.J. Spaun were the first group to get under way on the front nine at Bethpage Black on Thursday.

Ben Cook, Scott Piercy and Brian Gay started the second major of the year at the same time on the back nine in Long Island, New York.

The crowds will be hoping Woods pulls off a repeat of his sensational Masters triumph last month, while Koepka is also well fancied to mount another challenge.

Tiger Woods opted not to take part in a final practice round at the formidable Bethpage Black course on Wednesday ahead of this year's US PGA Championship.

The 15-time major champion's agent Mark Steinberg insisted the decision was made to rest, denying Woods was dealing with illness on the eve of the tournament.

This year's Masters champion had announced plans to play a further nine holes but never came to the course, where he won the U.S. Open in 2002, despite the arrival of caddie Joe LaCava.

The decision means Woods will tee off with Francesco Molinari and defending PGA champion Brooks Koepka on Thursday with only nine holes of practice under his belt this week, while he has not played competitively since his triumph at Augusta.

He played nine holes in adverse conditions on Monday but did get a full round in last week to work on yardages and sight lines.

"He's all good, just getting some rest," Steinberg told ESPN when asked if Woods had been unwell. "Saw the course last week, all is good.''

During his news conference on Tuesday, the 43-year-old Woods had acknowledged the physical challenge awaiting him.

"There's definitely going to be a component to stamina this week as the week goes on,'' he said. 

"Four days over a tough championship that is mentally and physically taxing takes its toll.

"This is not only a big golf course, but this is going to be a long week the way the golf course is set up and potentially could play."

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