Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen topped a leaderboard filled with major winners at the US PGA Championship, setting up a fascinating weekend at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. 

Mickelson started early and roared to the finish, carding five birdies on the back nine on the way to a 69 that left him at five under par for the tournament before Oosthuizen shot 68 in the afternoon for a share of the overall lead. 

Two-time US PGA winner Brooks Koepka (71) was one stroke back after recording a pair of eagles on Friday, followed by 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (68) at three under. 

Oosthuizen's fellow South Africans Branden Grace (71) and Christiaan Bezuidenhout (70) also were two back of the leaders. 

First-round leader Corey Conners (75) and 2019 U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland (72) were at two under, with reigning U.S. open champion Bryson DeChambeau (71) dropping back to one under after a bogey on 18. 

Players battled windy conditions throughout the day and had an especially difficult time with the last two holes.

Oosthuizen lost his chance to stand alone atop the leaderboard with a bogey on 18 that ensured no one would post a bogey-free round on the first two days of competition, while Grace dropped three strokes on 17 and 18 to mar an otherwise stellar round.

Rory McIlroy (72) saw a move for contention disintegrate with bogeys on the final three holes that left him eight back of the leaders entering Saturday, and Jordan Spieth (75) was in the same spot after bogeys at 17 and 18.

The four-time major champion Koepka had perhaps the most erratic day of any contender, carding just one birdie to go with his eagles at the seventh and 11th and four bogeys. 

Among the notables missing the five-over cut line by one stroke were Dustin Johnson (74), Sergio Garcia (73), Adam Scott (72) and Justin Thomas.

Former major winners also missing out on the weekend include Zach Johnson (78), Jason Dufner (81), Martin Kaymer (77), Rich Beem (77), Charl Schwartzel (79) and John Daly (86). 

The 2009 US PGA Championship winner, Y.E. Yang, was disqualified after signing an incorrect scorecard but would have missed the cut anyway. 

Phil Mickelson played himself right into contention to become the oldest major champion in history after taking the clubhouse lead on day two of the US PGA Championship.

The 50-year-old looked in good shape in his first round on Thursday and he went a step further on Friday, finding himself top of the leaderboard having gone around the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in 69.

It meant the American was on five under for the tournament, and he was leading by two shots shortly after he had finished for the day.

For much of Friday it looked as though Branden Grace was going to be in charge, the South African sitting pretty at six under for the tournament as he stepped up to the tee on the 17th.

But he finished his round with a double-bogey and a bogey as the breezy conditions took their toll on the two holes regarded as the toughest on the entire course, meaning he walked off after his final hole three under for the tournament.

Mickelson had similar issues on the same two holes earlier in the day after starting on the 10th, though the five-time major winner only dropped two shots across the 17th and 18th – it clearly was not enough of a wobble to really impact his mood.

The 2005 US PGA Championship winner has not had a single top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this season, but he has a great chance to end that here.

Opening up on his brilliant start at Kiawah Island, he said: "Physically I've felt as good as ever, I've been able to perform to play the shots, but I haven't been able to be as present or sharp mentally to visualise the shots I want to play.

"Meditation has been a big part of me being able to play the shots I want. It's gotten more difficult as I've got older to focus. Your mind is like a muscle, you have to exercise.

"That's what I've been doing, some days playing [as many as] 40-45 holes to make sure I can concentrate longer than just 18."

Mickelson carded five birdies after the turn, playing a huge role in putting him into contention to surpass Julius Boros as the oldest ever major winner at 48 in 1968.

Additionally, he is the first man aged 50 or over to be in top-five contention after 36 holes at a major since 2013.

His form here is made all the more remarkable by the fact he needed a special exemption to even qualify for next month's US Open, given his current ranking of 115.

"I'm having a lot of fun," he added. "To play well, to know I'm playing well heading into the weekend, to be in contention, to have a good opportunity, I'm having a blast. I'm excited for the weekend."

Ian Poulter looked to be putting himself into contention as well only to fall apart in the latter stages of his round, carding four bogeys in his final five holes – he was previously six under for the day.

Similarly, overnight leader Corey Conners' dropped down to two under for the tournament thanks to a difficult three-over second round.

Meanwhile, world number one Dustin Johnson will almost certainly not be returning on Saturday as he followed up a shocking first day with comparatively poor two over on Friday, leaving him on six over.

Jordan Spieth faces a nervy wait, he sits at four over following a second-round 75.

Justin Burrowes overcame three bogeys to shoot a one-over-par 73 and assume the early lead at the Alliance National Golf Championships at the Caymanas Golf Club on Thursday.

Burrowes also had three birdies and an eagle on the day that gave him a one-shot lead over William Knibbs. Owen Samuda had a 75 while Zandre Roye shot a 76 to be tied with Mark Newnham. Sean Morris and Shamar Wilson are both tied on 78.

Burrowes said he was happy with his first-round score even though he bogeyed the last two holes to end the round a stroke above par.

"Today was pretty good.  I knew that I had to post a good number to keep myself in the tournament which I felt like I did today,” he said.

“Didn't putt as well as I wanted to but there are still a lot of positives to build on going into the next three days.  I feel like I played well and there is a lot to build on and with the conditions being tough, it's always good to hit the ball well which I feel like I did today and I look forward to the next couple of days."

Meanwhile, many-time women’s champion Jodi Munn-Barrow led juniors Samantha Azan and Winni Lau with an even-par 72.  She was also pleased with the day's play.

"(I am) very happy with today's round, didn't make a lot of mistakes which was good because the course was playing very tough.  Conditions were hard, so overall happy, still have two more days to go so I have to focus on day two and day three so and hopefully the outcome will be good," she said.

In the Ladies 13 - 24 category, Valerie Grant had a score of 101 while Suzan White shot 106.

In the Men Senior 0-12 category, Vikram Dhuman leads with an 80 and is followed by Tony Allison (82), Nigel Davy (84) and Dave Cameron (87).

In the Men 7-12, Thajae Richards shot 88 while Richard White had 97.

The Men Super Senior 0-12 is led by former JGA president Wayne Chai Chong (79) and is followed by Teddy Alexander (80), Robert Chin (81), Stephen Chang (81) and Bert Tomlinson (82).

 Desmond Brown scored a 97.

The golfers will take to the Caymanas Golf Course at 7:30 am today for the second day of the championship.

 

 

 

Brooks Koepka dismissed concerns over his knee, insisting he does not have to be "100 per cent" after impressing on day one of the US PGA Championship.

Koepka ended the opening round two strokes behind leader Corey Conners and tied for second position following his three-under-par 69 on Thursday.

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

Koepka overcame a slow start after double-bogeying his opening hole in windy conditions as he made history in South Carolina.

The four-time major champion 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).

"It's a major. I'm going to show up," Koepka said when asked about his fitness and whether it was the best he has felt since returning from injury. "I'm ready to play. I've been itching to do this since Augusta.

"I mean, I feel so much better now. I don't need to be a hundred percent to be able to play good."

"I love it when it's difficult," said Koepka. "I think that's why I do so well in the majors. I just know mentally I can grind it out. Like when it's windy like this, it's not so much putting, it's more about ball striking, and I felt like I struck it really well today. I feel like that's why I've done really well.

"You've got to understand that sometimes par is a good score. You've got to understand that 30, 35 feet is a great shot sometimes, and you've just got to accept it and move on."

Defending champion Collin Morikawa closed out day one a shot further back at two under.

Morikawa mixed five birdies with three bogeys to end the round three strokes off the pace at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

He played alongside big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau (72) and praised the reigning U.S. Open champion.  

"I think people need to give him credit, starting today, that he's actually picking up the pace," Morikawa said. "It was amazing how fast he actually played. I'm not going to say fast, but he wasn't slow. You weren't just waiting on him to figure out whatever.

"Kudos to him because it was windy and he had to figure out some stuff for sure. But I enjoy it. He's a character. He's his own person. That's what makes Bryson, Bryson. I think that's why people love him. I enjoy playing with someone like that. It's not going to faze me that he hits it a hundred past me. I know I can still hit it and play golf."

DeChambeau, who heads into the second round tied for 31st, added: "The wind just kicked my butt. It's hot. Just grinding out there, it takes a lot out of you. Working really, really hard to hit every shot the exact way I want to, and then it doesn't happen, and you've got to be comfortable with it and going, okay, how do I get up-and-down.

"It's windy and you're over a four-footer. Wind is blowing really hard, and you think it's going to break. When the wind stops, it's not going to break. It's all just a really difficult thing that you've got to control out there. It's a lot of work."

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.

Rory McIlroy struggled on his return to Kiawah Island with a three-over-par 75 in the opening round at the US PGA Championship as playing partner Brooks Koepka impressed.

McIlroy won by eight shots the last time the PGA Championship was staged at Ocean Course in South Carolina in 2012 and was installed as the favourite of many after ending a winless streak of almost two years at the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago.

However, the four-time major champion – seeking a first major title since 2014 – landed his very first shot into the water on a windswept morning before recovering somewhat with back-to-back birdies on Thursday.

McIlroy – a two-time PGA Championship winner – was level par at the turn after dropping another shot on the par-five 16th, but he managed just one more birdie compared to five bogeys as he closed for 75, eight shots behind Corey Conners.

Koepka played down expectations heading into the tournament due to a knee injury and he started slowly with a double-bogey on his first hole, though the two-time PGA Championship winner recovered well with two birdies in the next three holes.

After turning in 36, Koepka picked up three shots in four holes on the front nine to complete an impressive turnaround that saw him earn a share of the lead before Conners soared to the summit as he aims to add to his successes in this event in 2018 and 2019.

"I felt like an idiot," he told Sky Sports Golf when reflecting on his cagey start. "It was probably a poor club choice off 10. I thought three-wood would have carried, but it didn't. I also didn't find the face, it barely hit the face!

"The first rule is, if you're in trouble, get the hell out. I couldn't reach the green and it was a bad lie, so I didn't know where I was going. I just tried to hit a sand-wedge up by the green instead of just chopping it out.

"So it was a mental mistake there, and I deserved every bit of that double-bogey. But it kind of helped me refocus. I can't play with any mistakes, maybe one a day, and that was my one, and I got it out of the way on the first hole."

Koepka is joined on three-under par by former champion Keegan Bradley, Viktor Hovland. Aaron Wise and Sam Horsfield.

Bradley's opening round included four birdies and just one dropped shot, coming on the par-four 13th, while Hovland bounced back from an opening bogey with four birdies.

Collin Morikawa is one shot further back after bogeying his final hole, the defending champion joined on a first-round 70 by Martin Laird, who was also let down by a couple of dropped shots on his final two holes.

Justin Thomas finds himself way down the standings, meanwhile, after carding a three over that included a double-bogey on the 18th, while US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau had a mixed first day as he posted a level-par 72.

World number one Dustin is among the late starters, along with Jordan Spieth, Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose.

Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and defending champion Collin Morikawa will tee off within the first two hours of the US PGA Championship, which got underway on Thursday at 07:00 local time.

Patrick Rada, Cameron Triangle, Adam Long were the first three players to tee off on Thursday at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course.

Matt Jones highlighted the second group, which teed off 11 minutes later. The Australian won this year's Honda Championship – the same competition which Rory McIlory won before dominating on this course in the PGA Championship in 2012.

McIlroy, who comes into the tournament on the back of a one-stroke victory at the Wells Fargo Championship, is in the hunt for a fifth major title.

His last win in the PGA Championship, in 2014, is his most recent of those major victories, and the Northern Irishman, currently ranked at seventh in the world, is one of the favourites.

McIlroy's average drive of 318 yards across the season so far puts him, in theory, in good stead to handle the Ocean Course, which at 7,878 yards, is the longest major track.

He is set to tee off at 08:33 local time from the first, and is paired with fellow US PGA champions Justin Thomas (2017) and Brooks Koepka (2018, 2019).

Shortly after that trio start, another big hitter in the form of 2020 US Open champion DeChambeau takes to the field. He averages 322 yards per drive this season, topping the PGA tour, though his accuracy is down at 172nd out of 215 players. That accuracy is however better than McIlroy, who ranks at 175th.

Teeing off alongside De Chambeau is Morikawa, who became the third-youngest player to win the major since it became a stroke-play event in 1958 – after McIlroy and the legendary Jack Nicklaus – when he triumphed in California last year.

The Masters champion, Hideki Matsuyama, completes a fearsome trio.

Three more previous US PGA champions will head out together later in the day, with Phil Mickelson, Jason Day and Padraig Harrington taking to the course at 13:14 in South Carolina.

They will be followed from the first by Tommy Fleetwood, world number three Jon Rahm and Patrick Reed, at approximately 13:25.

Jordan Spieth heads into the major as the only player in the field capable of completing a career grand slam this week. He starts at 13:58. 

Xander Schauffele is the first top-five player due out at 08:22, while world number on Dustin Johnson is one of the later starters.

One player who will not be featuring is Francesco Molinari, who withdrew on Thursday due to a back injury.

Major glory awaits for one man at Kiawah Island on Sunday, when the winner of the US PGA Championship will be confirmed.

With such a stacked field it is hard to pick out the most likely victor, but that has not stopped Stats Peform's team of expert writers from having a go.

Last year it was Collin Morikawa who prevailed, snapping American compatriot Brooks Koepka's run of consecutive wins.

Who will it be this time?

IT'S OFFICIAL, RORY IS BACK! – Peter Hanson

Okay, I'm officially calling it – Rory McIlroy is back! At the back end of 2019 and the start of 2020, the Northern Irishman was flying. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Then there were some questionable decisions to start trying to match the bombs Bryson DeChambeau can nail off the tee. Then there were some ugly results – including missed cuts at the Players Championship and the Masters. But forget all that, McIlroy – just six weeks on from starting work with renowned coach Pete Cowen – was back in the winners' circle at Quail Hollow last weekend, his first title since November 2019. A McIlroy in full swagger is a joy for any golf fan, and crucially he knows how to get it done at Kiawah Island having won the first of his two PGA Championship titles at the South Carolina course back in 2012 – doing so by eight strokes, a record for the tournament. It's time for Rory to finally get that fifth major.

SCHAUFFELE HAS GOT THIS ONE – Russell Greaves

If you have this notion that Xander Schauffele always seems to be in contention at the majors, it's because he is. His tie for third at the Masters this year represented an eighth top-10 finish at a major for Schauffele, with two of those coming at the US PGA. His record is one of remarkable consistency, with only one missed cut across 14 entries in the sport's four headline events. Schauffele is one of the most adaptable players out there, as evidenced by his PGA Tour-leading sand save percentage of 69.35. At just 27, it seems inevitable he will eventually clinch a title at one of those quartet of tournaments.

HIDEKI WILL DOUBLE UP – Ben Spratt

Hideki Matsuyama had been waiting a long time for his breakthrough triumph at Augusta last month, with seven top-10 finishes at majors without reaching the winner's circle before that Masters victory. "It was a relief, really," he said last week. But having got that monkey off his back and shown he is good enough in his approach play that a poor putting game need not be a hindrance, Matsuyama can no longer be written off so easily. The Japanese will be heading to Kiawah Island full of confidence and ready to win. A second straight success would really lay down a marker.

IT'S RAHM TIME – John Skilbeck 

Sooner or later, or so goes the theory, Jon Rahm will win a major. Let's tilt towards sooner then, because Rahm is top of the PGA Tour's ball-striking chart this season, fourth in terms of finding greens in regulation and top 20 in average driving distance and scoring average. On a course set to measure over 7,800 yards, those ingredients in his game look more than useful, but Rahm will need to putt well too and that is not a given. He is down in a share of 192nd for putts per round this season, so needs to get something going with the short stick. He is developing a reputation as a Masters specialist, with four successive top-10 finishes at Augusta, and the Kiawah Island conditions will be a world away from those in Georgia. But this breakthrough at a major is going to happen sooner or later, isn't it?

RAHM'S THE ONE FOR ME – Chris Myson 

Aside from a tie for fourth at the 2018 US PGA Championship, Rahm has not made a huge impact at this event. But he is rightly among the favourites for victory this week on the back of his tie for fifth place at the Masters and his continued consistency on the PGA Tour. With six top-10 finishes to his name at major championships, Rahm has proven he can get himself into contention at the biggest events. And he comes into the latest major in form. While the world number three is yet to win this year, he has missed the cut just once in 10 events. Rahm says the recent birth of his son Kepa has helped to take the pressure off his pursuit of a first major, an occasion which is surely not far away.

Energised by the return of spectators, Rory McIlroy is confident he can end his major drought at this week's US PGA Championship.

McIlroy arrives in South Carolina buoyed by his drought-snapping victory at the Wells Fargo Championship earlier this month.

Not since November 2019 had McIlroy reigned supreme on the PGA or European Tour but the former world number one ended his wait at Quail Hollow.

McIlroy has not won a major since 2014, however the 2012 and 2014 PGA Championship winner feels good heading into Thursday's opening round.

"I'm happy with where my game is, so I guess if I go out and play my game and do what I know that I can do, then I can see myself shooting good scores on this golf course," four-time major champion McIlroy told reporters.

"So that's sort of where I'm at. Whether that means I win or not, that's partly up to me, but that's partly on how the other 155 guys in the field play, as well.

"I've just got to go out there, play my game, and if I play my game somewhat close to the best of my ability, I'm sure I'll have a good chance."

Fans returned for the Wells Fargo Championship amid the coronavirus pandemic as McIlroy thrived en route to glory and there will be fans at Kiawah Island this week.

"It's funny, ever since I was 16 years old I've had thousands of people watch me play golf pretty much every time I teed it up. Even going back to amateur golf and. So then not having that, playing in that environment for 14, 15 years and then sort of going the complete opposite, it's just different," he said.

"I said at the time it was like playing practice rounds. It's easy to lose concentration. Everyone is used to a certain environment, whether you work or whatever you do, and it's a bit. I watched the Champions League semi-finals a couple weeks ago and those guys play in that for the first time in their careers and they're playing in an empty stadium. That just must be terrible. That's not at all how you dream of being in a squad like that and playing in a massive game.

"You want to play in front of people and you want to feel that atmosphere. It's unfortunate that in these times a lot of people don't have that experience, but I am glad that we're getting back to some sort of normalcy, and when you hit good shots and hole putts there is claps and rewards and encouragement.

"I feel like that's all a part of tournament golf and competitive sports at the highest level, and just happy that I'm starting to come back."

Another former world number one, Jordan Spieth, is eyeing a milestone at the PGA Championship.

Spieth, who ended his fourth-year title drought in Texas last week, can become the sixth player in history to complete the career Grand Slam and the first to do so by winning a PGA Championship.

The three-time major winner, though, played down his career Grand Slam quest.

"I think as we get into the weekend, if I'm able to work my way into contention, I think it's something that'll obviously be asked and come up, and it's something that I certainly want," Spieth said.

"You go to a major, and for me at this point, I want to win the Masters as badly as I ever have this year. Didn't happen.

"I want to win this one as badly as I ever have. Once you move on to the U.S. Open, the same. Majors, that's what we're trying to peak for those.

"I feel like I'll have a lot of chances at this tournament, and if I just focus on trying to take advantage of this golf course, play it the best I can and kind of stay in the same form tree to green I've been in, all I can ask for is a chance."

Brooks Koepka said he can play through the pain in his bid for a third US PGA Championship but a full recovery from a knee injury remains months away.

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, having won the Phoenix Open, and he has missed the cut in his past two events, including last month's Masters.

As Koepka gears up for Thursday's opening round at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina, the 31-year-old acknowledged his knee is still problematic but he is ready to play.

"I feel like I can hit every shot. It's not like Augusta where I'm trying to figure out what's the best line to walk instead of figuring out. Now I can actually hit golf shots and understand what's going on," Koepka, who has been paired alongside Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy told reporters on Tuesday.

"For a while it was just I neglected putting just to see if I could hit shots, because if I can't hit shots I can't play. No point in that. No, I got everything under control and know what I'm doing. Last week was a good test just to see where I'm at for two days.

"I thought if I got four, it would be nice, but two days of rest didn't hurt me."

Asked for a timeline for him to be fully healthy, Koepka replied: "We're talking probably another six months."

"If I beat that, I'm doing something good," he continued. "I mean, I can play. You're never 100 per cent, that's the thing. For two straight years it's been left knee, right knee, herniated a disc in my neck, played in Tampa or wherever we were, played through that. I dealt with that all the way through Palm Springs.

"I can deal with the pain. That's not an issue. It's just a matter of being able to hit shots that I want to hit and do things I want to do, and I'm starting to be able to do that. Even though I'm not 100 per cent, I can still hit the shots."

Koepka added: "Every day has been a long day. Starting from just the training to the rehab, everything seems to take an hour, hour and a half longer, more attention to detail of what I'm doing off the golf course, make sure I'm doing -- I seem to get hurt in a bunch of freaky instances.

"It's just one of those things where you've just got to move past it and take it one day at a time."

Richard Bland finally won a European Tour title at the 478th attempt as the 48-year-old saw decades of persistence pay off at the British Masters.

The Englishman first appeared on the circuit in 1998 and had three runner-up finishes and a pair of third places to his name across his career before this week, but the first win had proven elusive.

However, he put that right on Saturday at The Belfry, a closing 66 taking him to 13 under par before Bland held his nerve in a play-off to deny Italian Guido Migliozzi.

Bland made birdie at the 18th with a putt from almost 30 feet for a six-under 66 to set the clubhouse target, but Migliozzi joined him on that mark by picking up shots at the 15th and 16th holes.

It would have been a nervy wait for Bland as Migliozzi targeted the birdie in the closing two holes that would have brought him the title, but the 24-year-old could not make it happen as he settled for a 68, triggering the play-off.

When Migliozzi missed from around 10 feet for par at the first extra hole - the 18th - Bland had the chance to slot the winning putt from close range, and he made no mistake.

"I've done it," said an emotional Bland on Sky Sports. "My game had been trending in the right way and I'd worked really hard, as you know we've worked so hard on the wedges."

Interviewed by his coach Tim Barter, Bland, who collects €339,278 for his win, said: "I just drove the ball so well this week. I've gone back to my old driver. Round here - especially for me, I'm not the longest on tour - so I've got to hit fairways and I've probably missed single-digit fairways all week.

"If I have missed one it's been by a couple of inches. I came off a pretty decent week last week and a top 10 [last month] in Gran Canaria so I knew my game was in decent shape."

Finland's Mikko Korhonen shared third place on 12 under with England's Dave Coupland and Polish player Adrian Meronk, with another Englishman in Andy Sullivan tied for sixth with South African Dean Burmester.

Tournament host Danny Willett finished at nine under, the same mark as fellow Englishman Eddie Pepperell who was the overnight leader but struggled on the final day, a one-over 73 seeing him slide down the leaderboard to a share of 11th place.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.