Jason Day feels he is building momentum after grabbing the lead at the US PGA Championship on Thursday.

The Australian carded a five-under 65 at TPC Harding Park to hold a one-stroke lead on what was a congested leaderboard during the first round.

Despite being winless since 2018, Day has four top-10 finishes this year, including three in a row leading into the first major of 2020.

Day, the 2015 US PGA champion, said he felt his form building heading to San Francisco.

"There was definitely a lot of momentum coming in off the previous finishes that I've had, three top-10s, which has been nice," he said.

"The game feels like it's coming around. I'm pleased with it.

"I shouldn't say I'm not excited. I am excited to come out and play every day, but I know that I can improve, and mainly my putting can improve a little bit more.

"I feel like I've been working very hard in the off weeks and especially when I come to a tournament to be able to get my putting back to where it is because it's always been a strength of mine, and I feel like the game is slowly coming around, the confidence is coming around because I'm starting to see the results, which has been good."

The colder weather in San Francisco was talked about heading into the major and Day has dealt with back injuries in the past.

The 32-year-old admitted he was more cautious in the cooler weather to protect his back.

"It's still pretty cool. It was nice to be able to have the sun for a change. It's been kind of overcast and grey here," Day said.

"But it has been cool – you've got to be careful. It is a lot colder; 50 degrees pretty much to be precise from last week. It was nice to play in the hot weather last week and then this week you're always cautious of doing certain things, bending over.

"But I pretty much lather up in Deep Heat and I try and burn the skin off my back, to be honest. And I feel pretty good, so I've been fine."

Tiger Woods made a steady start to his quest for a fifth US PGA Championship but an eye-catching 66 from Brooks Koepka suggested history could be made this weekend in San Francisco.

A two-under 68 from Woods meant the 44-year-old was three shots off the early clubhouse pace set by Jason Day at TPC Harding Park, in golf's first major of the disrupted 2020 season.

Koepka was only one behind Day, however, raising the prospect of a title challenge from the man who is chasing a hat-trick of consecutive US PGA titles.

Woods has twice triumphed at the US PGA in consecutive years (1999-2000, 2006-2007), but nobody has taken the title three years in succession in the stroke-play era.

That is the challenge Koepka is embracing, with the 30-year-old recovering well after dropping a shot at his second hole, having started on the back nine.

Koepka said on Sky Sports: "I just keep playing one shot at a time, one hole at a time, keep plugging away. I'm playing so good that... I hit a good putt at 11 and it just didn't go in, I just over-read it a little bit, but other than that I played everything pretty much how I wanted to. I played really well."

Koepka had been struggling for form since the PGA Tour returned until tying for second last time out at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

He had a closing 80 at the Memorial Tournament and missed the cut at the Workday Charity Open and 3M Open, but Koepka loves to produce on the big stage.

"It's a major, I'll get up for it," Koepka said. "It's a little bit of confidence I guess, maybe a little bit, but at the end of the day I just feel good, I'm playing good, and there's no reason to be scientific with all the numbers and stuff. You just go out and play."

Koepka, playing two groups ahead of Woods, parred his way home after making birdie at two and four – his 11th and 13th holes.

By contrast, there was anguish across Woods' face as he missed a par putt at the eighth – his 17th hole – after a brilliant bunker shot, knocking him back from three under.

Woods, nonetheless, was happy with his efforts, and felt scoring would become tougher later in the day due to increasing winds.

The tournament was being played without spectators, meaning there was no crowd energy for the players to feed off, nor any familiar applause as they were introduced for the start of their rounds.

Asked if he was satisfied with how he played, Woods said: "Yeah, I was. I figured we were going to get the more favourable of the conditions today, with the wind supposed to pick up, which it is now.

"The golf course is only going to get more difficult.

"Some of these pins were a little on the difficult side, but overall this golf course is all about hitting fairways, and if you're able to hit the fairway you can get after some of these flags."

Woods was playing with a new putter for the first time, and said: "I've been messing about with it for the better part of over a year.

"It's a little bit longer than my original one, which makes it a little easier on my back. I was able to spend more time practising."

Koepka had plenty of company at four under, with Americans Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Zach Johnson, Bud Cauley and Brendan Steele all on the same mark through 18 holes, along with Englishman Justin Rose and Germany's 2010 US PGA winner Martin Kaymer. France's Mike Lorenzo-Vera also had a 66.

Australian Day, the 2015 champion, could not be matched though, with five birdies and no dropped shots setting the standard.

Rory McIlroy, the 2012 and 2014 US PGA winner, was grouped with Woods and world number one Justin Thomas, who won this tournament three years ago. McIlroy had a level-par 70 and Thomas a frustrating one-over 71.

Northern Ireland's Cormac Sharvin seized the lead after a late charge in round one of the English Championship at Hanbury Manor.

As his compatriot Rory McIlroy began his challenge at the US PGA Championship, Sharvin caused heads to turn in Hertfordshire when he produced a sparkling eight-under-par 63.

There had looked like being an overnight tie for the lead until his thrilling performance in the final group of the day, with Sharvin making 10 birdies, dropping two shots along the way.

The 27-year-old former Walker Cup player, who earned his European Tour card last year with six top-five finishes on the Challenge Tour, leapfrogged a group of six players on seven under, among them Belgium's Thomas Detry.

Detry last week went agonisingly close to a first European Tour title when he finished just one shot back from Sam Horsfield at the English Open.

Going round in 64 on Thursday helped to quell the disappointment of last week's close call, and Detry said of his round: "It was really good. I've been building some momentum from last week.

"I got off to a very good start - eagle chance on the second and a short birdie putt at the third and then I was just rolling, four more birdies on the last four holes of the front nine and then I kept it going.

"I made two little mistakes at 17, which is a tough hole, and on 11, but I'm very pleased with the way I'm playing golf right now."

Reviewing his brush with silverware last week, Detry told the European Tour website: "You've just got to forget about it. You see it as another chance this week to put my name up there and have a chance on Sunday.

"That's what I think I've done today - hopefully I can keep it going the next few days."

Lee Westwood, who opted out of playing the US PGA due to concerns about travel to the United States while coronavirus remains such a problem, put himself into a promising position from where he might strike.

The 47-year-old Englishman shot a five-under 66 to sit in a share of 20th place, on a day of low scoring, with Andrew Johnston and Miguel Angel Jimenez on the same mark.

Tiger Woods made a flying start but two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka dropped an early shot as the US PGA Championship got under way on Thursday.

Golf's first major championship of the disrupted 2020 season was in its early stages at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, and Woods, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas were in a star-studded group among the early starters.

The Woods-McIlroy-Thomas group got going at 08:33 local time (16:33 BST), beginning on the back nine, and all three made birdies at their opening hole, the par-five 10th.

Koepka went out at 08:11 local time, also starting at the 10th, and was joined by a pair of reigning major champions in US Open winner Gary Woodland and Open Championship victor Shane Lowry.

Winner of this tournament in 2018 and 2019, Koepka found rough to the right of the green at the par-three 11th, going on to miss from inside seven feet for par.

His par attempt lipped out, leaving a short bogey putt.

Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson formed another eye-catching group, with the former dropping an early shot while his playing partners both moved to one under par after two holes.

American John Catlin has been withdrawn from the European Tour's English Championship for a breach of coronavirus protocol.

Catlin was due to be in the field for the tournament at Hanbury Manor, but will not tee off on Thursday after leaving the bubble to visit a restaurant along with his caddie Nathan Mulrooney.

South African Wilco Nienaber will replace Catlin, who accepted his punishment for eating out on Tuesday evening.

Catlin said: "I apologise to my fellow players and everyone involved with the tournament this week for this error of judgement.

"I understand the European Tour's decision and accept the sanction."

Catlin's best performance on the European Tour came when he was tied for eighth at the Austrian Open last month.

Bryson DeChambeau has quite literally been a big talking point after mixing swinging irons with pumping iron during lockdown.

It was very evident the eccentric American had not been putting his feet up when the PGA Tour resumed in June following a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

DeChambeau teed off at the Charles Schwab Challenge with a substantially bulked-up frame after dedicating himself to an intensive daily training schedule while in quarantine.

The world number seven also put his new appearance down to a diet that includes seven protein shakes a day and a 2,000-calorie breakfast, consuming two big meals daily and "munching" inbetween.

DeChambeau has long since given his rivals food for thought with such an alternative approach to the game that earned him the 'mad scientist' nickname.

If the 26-year-old Californian can come up with a recipe for success this week, he could be a major force at the US PGA Championship.

The six-time PGA Tour champion's extra power would have drawn gasps from the galleries if spectators had been allowed in to see the distances he has been hitting the ball since the restart.

His average drive of 324.4 yards is the highest on the PGA Tour this year and can be a huge weapon, but some believe his new-found strength combined with technical adjustments may have impacted his touch game.

He returned with three consecutive top-10 finishes before winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic, but suffered a meltdown as he missed the cut at the Memorial Tournament a fortnight later.

DeChambeau was there for the weekend at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, but finished in a tie for 30th as Justin Thomas won the title on Sunday.

Slow play and on-course tantrums have ensured DeChambeau is unlikely to ever be the most popular player on the circuit, but his drive for success has to be admired.

As does his optimism judging by a recent interview with GQ magazine.

"My goal is to live to 130 or 140. I really think that's possible now with today's technology," he said.

"I think somebody's going to do it in the next 30 or 40 years. I want humans to be better. I want them to succeed. I want to say, 'Hey, this is all of the stuff I've experienced… if it helps you, great. If it doesn't, well, let's keep working on it. Let's keep figuring stuff out."

DeChambeau must hope it is a case of the bigger, the better when he starts his quest to claim a first major title at TPC Harding Park, San Francisco on Thursday.

Tiger Woods has no concerns over his preparation for the US PGA Championship, the American superstar in a confident mood as he chases a 16th major title.

Woods has only made one competitive appearance since the PGA Tour resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic in June – the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village.

In his long-awaited return last month, Woods finished 15 strokes adrift of champion John Rahm in a share of 40th position, the former world number one struggling with a stiff back which has proven troublesome in recent years following surgery.

Woods is now in San Francisco for the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park, where the four-time winner will play alongside Rory McIlroy and new number one Justin Thomas in Thursday's opening round behind closed doors due to COVID-19.

And the 44-year-old Woods shrugged off the lack of spectators for the first major of 2020, telling reporters: "As far as the focus part of it, I haven't had a problem with that. Those four [Memorial] rounds, I was pretty into it.

"It's different than most of the times when you go from green-to-tee, people yelling or trying to touch you. That part is different. As far as energy while I'm competing and playing, no that's the same. I'm pretty intense when I play and pretty into what I'm doing.

"I don't know if anyone in our generation has ever played without fans in a major championship. It's going to be very different. But it's still a major championship. It's still the best players in the world. We all understand that going into it, so there’s going to be plenty of energy from the competitive side."

Woods added: "I feel good. Obviously I haven't played much competitively, but I've been playing a lot at home. So I've been getting plenty of reps that way … the results that I've seen at home, very enthusiastic about some of the changes I've made and so that's been positive.

"Just trying to get my way back into this part of the season. This is what I've been gearing up for. We've got a lot of big events starting from here, so looking forward to it. This is going to be a fun test for all of us. The rough is up. Fairways are much narrower than they were here in 2009."

Brooks Koepka will start his bid for a PGA Championship three-peat alongside fellow American Gary Woodland and Irishman Shane Lowry at 08:11 (local time), 22 minutes before Woods is scheduled to tee off.

Dethroned world number one Rahm, 2005 champion Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia have been grouped together and will get their campaigns underway at 13:58 (local time), while Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson are another notable group.

Sam Horsfield held off Thomas Detry's final-day challenge at the Hero Open to claim his maiden European Tour title, finishing up on 18-under-par for the tournament. 

Despite sitting atop the leaderboard for each of the previous two days, Horsfield came into the final round in Birmingham having endured an alarming back nine on Saturday. 

But the Englishman hit a four-under 68 to finish a solitary shot clear of Detry, who had set the clubhouse target having gone around in 66. 

Horsfield settled any early nerves with two birdies in his first three holes, and although a bogey on the par-three fifth might have caused other players to wobble, he immediately responded. 

Back-to-back birdies followed and he would go over par just once more when dropping a shot at the 15th – only to claim it back on the penultimate hole. 

That left the 23-year-old knowing a par on the last would be enough to clinch the victory and he duly obliged, leaving him narrowly clear of Detry, whose bogey on hole 18 ultimately proved crucial. 

On a tense day at the top of the leaderboard, Joel Sjoholm was involved in a comical moment that would have surely alleviated the stresses of Horsfield and Detry for a moment. 

The Swede had to board a small boat to reach a wayward approach shot that landed on a small island in the middle of a water hazard on the 17th. 

He needed to move a pair of sponsorship signs just to reach the ball, which lay in thick rough right between two hefty tree trunks, and a bogey proved a commendable achievement in the end.

Sam Horsfield finished a second successive round top of the Hero Open leaderboard, but he will rue an alarming back nine that could give his chasers confidence heading into the final day in Birmingham.

Horsfield carded an exceptional nine-under 63 on Friday to share the lead with Sebastian Garcia-Rodriguez, but the Englishman charged ahead initially in the penultimate round.

Five birdies on an unblemished front nine had Horsfield looking destined for a commanding advantage, as he found himself in a six-shot lead.

But his form nose-dived after the turn, going four over par for the back nine, a score exacerbated by a double-bogey on the par-five 12th.

Oliver Farr and Mikko Korhonen both shot 67, while a 66 for Rasmus Hojgaard meant he joined that duo at just one stroke back of Horsfield at 13 under.

Chris Paisley and Garcia Rodriguez – who went one over for the round – are a further shot back, but will still fancy their chances on Sunday.

While Garcia Rodriguez endured a disappointing round, he can at least console himself with arguably the shot of the day, as he somehow found the green from behind a tree trunk despite the ball lying awkwardly close to a thick twig in heavy rough.

His compatriot Miguel Angel Jimenez, competing in a record 707th European Team event this week, slipped away further as he also went round in 73, giving him a score of seven-under heading into the final day.

Brooks Koepka was pleased to see his hard work rewarded during the first round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

The American made a dream start to his title defence in Memphis, matching a career-low with an eight-under 62 in the first round to hold a two-stroke lead.

Koepka, who had missed cuts in two of his previous three tournaments, said his performance was thanks to the work he had put in.

"It's all what's gone on behind the scenes," the four-time major champion told a news conference.

"I do feel comfortable at this place, I like it, but at the same time, it's the first time I feel like I know where my misses are, I know when the club's in the correct spot, I know when the putting stroke's nice.

"It's all just the work we've put in over the last three weeks of countless hours of beating balls and on the putting green."

Koepka has one top-10 finish in 10 starts this year, but the world number six was happy with his improvement on Thursday.

"I played good, I drove it well, putted well, chipped it well, did everything very solid, missed in the correct spots," he said.

"I never really felt like I was having to work too hard out there so that's a little different than it has been, but I guess that's why we put in all the work."

Brooks Koepka made a dream start to his title defence at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational after matching his career-low round on the PGA Tour.

Koepka carded an eight-under-par 62 for a two-stroke lead following the opening round of the World Golf Championships event in Memphis on Thursday.

The four-time major champion – who has missed two cuts in his past three outings heading to TPC Southwind – was almost flawless at the PGA and European Tour tournament.

Koepka, troubled by a knee injury that has led to just one top-10 finish in 10 tournaments this year, raced out of the blocks with four consecutive birdies before closing out the front nine with back-to-back gains after dropping the seventh.

The American star was bogey free after the turn, birdieing the 11th, 13th and 16th holes to top the leaderboard ahead of countrymen Rickie Fowler and Brendon Todd.

Kang Sung-hoon is outright fourth on five under, a shot ahead of 2018 champion Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar, Chez Reavie and Max Homa, while the likes of Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia are three under through 18 holes.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth endured a mixed round, posting a double bogey, two bogeys and six birdies for a two-under-par 68 – a score matched by players such as Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Xander Schauffele.

Dustin Johnson, the 2016 winner who withdrew from last week's 3M Open, signed for a first-round 69 to be a shot better off than world number one Jon Rahm.

Rahm dethroned Rory McIlroy as the world's top-ranked golfer after winning the Memorial Tournament earlier this month and the Spanish star opened his Memphis campaign with four bogeys and four birdies.

He performed a lot better than McIlroy, who carded a three-over-par 73 to leave himself with plenty of work to do heading into Friday's second round.

Miguel Angel Jimenez put his longevity down to espresso, red wine and his trademark cigars as he set out for a record-breaking 707th European Tour appearance.

The popular Spaniard was relishing the prospect of surpassing the benchmark of Sam Torrance at the Hero Open when he teed off on Thursday at the Forest of Arden in Birmingham on Thursday, 32 years after making his debut on the tour.

Still going strong at the age of 56, Jimenez offered some of the secrets that have kept him going strong in his customary amiable style.

"[It's about] still maintaining myself, some olive oil, espresso, a nice red wine, some cigars too!" he told the European Tour's official website.

"I'm doing what I like to do in my life, when you do what you like to do you never get tired. The last 15 to 20 years I work on my elasticity and that helps, but I do what I like to do."

He added: "Well it's a really nice feeling, it's something you never think about when you start on the tour.

"It's amazing to be here and to set the record this week."

Jimenez is a 21-time winner on the European Tour but is unsure how many more tournaments he will play to extend the record and reflected on being around throughout several generations.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, he said: "It's been 32 years moving around the world playing on different tours.

"Getting to this point and looking back it's amazing. So many players in these 32 years. Playing with Seve [Ballesteros] - our mentor – Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger [Woods], Phil Mickelson. All different generations. Now with the new ones coming up.

"Over these 32 years it has been amazing, not only for the 707 tournaments I will reach this week. You never think about how many tournaments you will play in your life.

"I knew in the last couple of years - the way I am playing and feeling on the golf course – that this would be the next target, and here we are.

"I don't know if I want to extend the record. I will play next week and play Valderrama when I come back in a few weeks' time.

"After next week I will go to America to play a couple of events and then back to Valderrama, but I don't have a goal to add more tournaments. The target was to get the record and whatever tournaments are coming up on top of this will be nice."

There have been many achievements over three decades and Jimenez has a few of which he is particularly fond.

He said: "Looking back, having reflections, I've had some nice experiences. I had my first victory in 1992 at the Piaget Open in Belgium.

"Being assistant captain to Seve in 1997 in Valderrama before I played my first Ryder Cup in 1999.

"Looking back, so many great things: winning four times in Hong Kong, winning at Wentworth in 2008, the flagship tournament of the European Tour. The first Spaniard to win what was then the Volvo Masters at Montecastillo. A beautiful life."

Brooks Koepka believes he will turn his form around despite still being troubled by a knee injury.

Koepka, the world number six, has missed two cuts in his past three events heading into the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

The four-time major champion is confident he can recapture his best form, having recorded just one top-10 finish in 10 events this year.

"It's definitely been frustrating. It will test you mentally, but at the same time, I'm looking at it as a challenge and something where I know it will turn around eventually. It's going to turn around," Koepka told a news conference.

"You don't work that hard for nothing. Starting to see signs of it. Now it's just about going and doing it.

"Whether it be this week, next week, a month from now, two months from now, whatever it's going to be, it will pay off."

Koepka suffered a torn patella tendon in his knee last year and is still being bothered by the injury.

The American said he would finish the season before considering his options.

"The tear has to be worse to go under the knife, but we'll see how it goes," Koepka said.

"We'll see when my season ends and go get stem cell again most likely and figure it out from there."

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