Corey Conners savoured his "really special round" after defying windy conditions to set the early pace at the US PGA Championship.

Conners earned a two-shot lead on Thursday, the unheralded Canadian golfer upstaging a star-studded field with a five-under-par 67 in South Carolina.

Without a victory since his solitary PGA Tour triumph at the 2019 Texas Open, Conners was almost flawless in gusty conditions, holing six birdies with just one bogey.

Conners' lead marks his third career 18-hole lead/co-lead on the PGA Tour (0-for-two to date) and first at a major. Earlier this season, the 29-year-old was tied for the first-round lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and finished third – his best result of the season.

"It was a really special round. I did a lot of things really, really well. Like I said before, it's really nice to see some mid-range birdie putts fall in the hole," Conners said.

"Really gave me confidence and felt like I rolled it really well for the rest of the round. A lot of putts had chances to go in and I made some nice saves, as well."

Prior to Thursday's first round, Conners' best position after any round of a major was equal sixth through 54 holes at this year's Masters at Augusta, where he eventually finished tied for eighth.

Conners bettered that at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, where he tops the leaderboard ahead of four-time major champion Brooks Koepka, Keegan Bradley, Viktor Hovland, Aaron Wise, Sam Horsfield and Cam Davis.

"I have a lot of belief in myself, and I've been playing well for quite a while," said Conners. "I'm excited for opportunity to play against the best players in the world and put my game to the test.

"I have a lot of confidence in my game and I'm excited for the rest of the weekend. Didn't try to force it to happen but definitely saw myself having a good day today and hopefully can keep that up the rest of the weekend."

Corey Conners withstood hammering winds to claim a two-stroke lead following the opening round at the US PGA Championship as Brooks Koepka impressed but Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson struggled.

Prior to Thursday's first round in South Carolina, Conners' best position after any round of a major was equal sixth through 54 holes at this year's Masters at Augusta.

Conners bettered that at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, where the Canadian defied the wind to set the early pace with a five-under-par 67.

Without a victory since his solitary PGA Tour triumph at the 2019 Texas Open, Conners was almost flawless in gusty conditions, holing six birdies with just one bogey.

Conners' lead marks his third career 18-hole lead/co-lead on the PGA Tour (0-for-two to date) and first at a major. Earlier this season, the 29-year-old was tied for the first-round lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and finished third – his best result of the season.

Koepka ended day one in a share of second position alongside Keegan Bradley, Viktor Hovland, Aaron Wise, Sam Horsfield and Cam Davis.

Koepka has been plagued by injuries since winning back-to-back PGA Championships in 2019 and a fourth major title in three years – the American star underwent knee surgery in March before missing the cut at last month's Masters.

But Koepka impressed on Thursday, overcoming a slow start to shoot a three-under-par 69.

Koepka double-bogeyed his opening hole on the back nine, however, the four-time major champion only dropped one shot after that as he tallied six birdies.

He has opened the PGA Championship with a score in the 60s in each of the last six years, the longest such streak at any major in the modern era (since 1934), eclipsing Jack Nicklaus (five – 1972-1976 Masters).

Defending champion Collin Morikawa is a stroke further back alongside the likes of five-time major winner Phil Mickelson.

Big-hitting American and reigning U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau signed for an even-par 72 at the close of the first round, level with Jon Rahm and Justin Rose, while Masters holder Hideki Matsuyama, former world number one Jordan Spieth – eyeing a career Grand Slam – and Xander Schauffele shot 73s.

Jason Day and Patrick Reed were also further down the leaderboard as two-time PGA Championship winner McIlroy and world number one Johnson were powerless in the wind.

McIlroy – seeking a first major trophy since 2014 – recorded a three-over-par 75, which included six bogeys and just three birdies.

Justin Thomas also went three over for the day, while Johnson finished with two double-bogeys and a bogey in a forgettable four-over-par 76 display.

A weather delay gave Augusta leader Justin Rose time to reflect on a mixed start to Saturday's play at The Masters.

Rose had led by four strokes after the first round but saw that advantage cut to a single shot on Friday, with Will Zalatoris and Brian Harman his closest challengers.

The one-time major champion was last out on moving day but quickly set about restoring a healthy lead.

Indeed, birdies at the first two holes had Rose three clear at nine under, yet this hot streak did not last.

Rose found the bunker at four and could only rescue a bogey, before befalling the same fate at the fifth, the sand contributing again.

The Englishman recovered with par at the sixth and had just played a solid tee shot at seven when an official approached and sounded the horn to signal an imminent storm.

As play was suspended, Rose was again one ahead of Zalatoris, who was joined at six under by Marc Leishman.

Corey Conners was the day's big mover to that point, in a tie for fourth after playing 11 holes at three under.

Conners' hole in one at the par-three sixth was the highlight, coming straight after the first of two bogeys.

Justin Thomas and Hideki Matsuyama - both one under for the day - were level with Conners, while Harman was back at four under following three bogeys and a birdie through seven.

Jordan Spieth's challenge faltered, although a superb birdie brought him back level with Harman after a double-bogey at seven had threatened to knock him out of contention entirely.

Patrick Reed - two under on Saturday and one under for the week - and Phil Mickelson - three under to reach even par - were among those to complete their rounds before the weather hit.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth has put himself in another great position to end his title drought after closing the Texas Open third round tied for the lead.

Spieth has not claimed a trophy since 2017, with the three-time major champion often struggling for form on the PGA Tour.

But no other player has more 54-hole lead/co-leads on Tour this season after American star Spieth earned his third on Saturday.

Spieth carded a five-under-par 67 to be level with Englishman Matt Wallace (67) atop the leaderboard at 12 under through three rounds at TPC San Antonio, where they are two strokes clear.

Texas Open runner-up in 2015, Spieth was either leader or co-leader at the Phoenix Open and Pebble Beach Pro-Am before finishing tied for fourth and third respectively this year.

Spieth, who is nine for 18 in his career converting to victory when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead, was red-hot on the back nine, where he did not drop a shot – tallying five birdies, including his final two holes to join Wallace at the summit.

"I didn't feel like I had great control of the golf ball," Spieth said after birdieing five of his last seven holes. "I left the ball in the right spots when it was missed and really, I did a great job managing today."

Charley Hoffman – the 2016 winner – climbed 11 positions up to third and only two strokes behind Spieth and Wallace following his third-round 65.

Cameron Tringale lost his spot at the top of the leaderboard after shooting a 73 to be outright fourth and four shots adrift, while Anirban Lahiri (69) is a stroke further back heading into the final round.

Defending champion Corey Conners finds himself eight shots behind following a five-under-par 67 – a stroke better off than Rickie Fowler (69).

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