Cameron Smith continued his strong start to the Memorial Tournament on Friday, sitting alone atop the leaderboard on eight under after being one of three players to shoot under 70 on back-to-back days.

The Australian was in a six-way tie for the lead after round one, and pushed on well his second time around, finishing with just one bogey – on the sixth hole – which was sandwiched by birdies on the fifth and seventh.

Smith then birdied the par-five 11th, and the par-three 12th, showing his impressive touch over long and short distances, but where he really made his money was around the greens.

According to Data Golf, Smith had negative strokes-gained off the tee and with his approach shots in round two, but was second overall in strokes-gained around the greens (plus 3.55), trailing only Beau Hossler (plus 4.25). They gapped the field, with nobody else gaining more than plus 2.83 in that shot category.

Sitting one stroke off the lead is American Denny McCarthy and South Korea's Lee Kyoung-hoon, while one stroke further back at six under are round one's joint-leaders Davis Riley, Cameron Young and Luke List, along with Jhonattan Vegas and Billy Horschel.

McCarthy and Vegas joined Smith as the only players to shoot sub-70 in the opening two rounds.

Rory McIlroy headlines the group at five under in a tie for ninth, along with Francesco Molinari, still well within striking distance heading into the weekend.

A strong international group is at four under, including Canada's Mackenzie Hughes, Chile's Joaquin Niemann and South Korea's Im Sung-jae, and they are one stroke ahead of Ireland's Shane Lowry, Mexico's Abraham Ancer and American Will Zalatoris.

Jon Rahm and Corey Conners will still feel like they have a chance at two under, Max Homa and Xander Schauffele finished well inside the cut-line at one under, and Jordan Spieth shot a disappointing 74 on Friday to take an even par score into the weekend.

England's Aaron Rai – who was number one in strokes-gained off the tee on Friday – along with Australian Adam Scott finished right on the cut-line, making it through at two over, but Matt Fitzpatrick (three over) and Collin Morikawa (four over) were not so lucky.

World number three Cameron Smith headlines a six-way tie atop the Memorial Tournament leaderboard after Thursday's first round at Muirfield Village.

Smith is joined by American trio Luke List, Cameron Young and Davis Riley, as well as Canada's Mackenzie Hughes and South Korea's Lee Kyoung-hoon.

It is the largest leading group after the first round in tournament history, but they all got to their five-under 67 in different ways. 

Young finished the day second in average driving distance (316.8 yards), behind only Jon Rahm, while Lee, Hughes and Smith finished top-six in putts-per-green-in-regulation.

List was the only member of the leading group to finish with less than two bogeys, and Riley played an all-round game; top-15 in driving distance while being dialled in with his putter down the back-nine, going five-under from the 11th hole to the 17th.

US PGA Championship runner-up Will Zalatoris is part of the three-man group one stroke off the lead, while Max Homa and Canada's Corey Conners are in the logjam at three under.

A star-studded group finished with a two-under 70, including Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele and Im Sung-jae, while Chile's Joaquin Neimann is with Collin Morikawa and Jason Day at one under.

Patrick Cantlay and Rahm were even-par, Mito Pereira will need a solid second round to make the cut after a one-over finish, and Hideki Matsuyama was handed his first career disqualification for using a wood with paint on its face – deemed illegal. He was three over at the time of the incident.

English golfer Eddie Pepperell claims stars who sign up for the LIV Golf Invitational Series are making it obvious "what money means to you".

Former world top-50 star Pepperell says many players are taking "a big risk" by aligning themselves with the series that is being funded by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

Former U.S. Open and Masters champion Dustin Johnson, 37, is among the 42 confirmed entrants for the first event, which will be held at Centurion Club near London from June 9-11.

Sergio Garcia, Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter, Charl Schwartzel, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood are also set to feature in a tournament that will have 12 teams and 48 players.

There have been claims of the event being an attempt at sportswashing, and while Pepperell did not level that accusation, he suggested a lust for money had to be the prime motivation for players who have gone against the wishes of the PGA Tour and European Tour by agreeing to take part.

"From a ROI [return on investment] perspective, the field for the first LIV event is awful," Pepperell wrote on Twitter. "Obviously they're banking on that changing over time. You have to wonder how long they'll keep pouring that amount of money into this if that change doesn't come quickly.

"Plus, deteriorating financial conditions across the world may have an impact. Nobody will be impervious to what we're seeing and what we'll continue to see economically into the next 18 months.

"The players who have signed up should be upfront and honest about their reasons to do so. And it has to be the money. There's nothing wrong with chasing money or higher salaries, people do it across all industries.

"It's somewhat understandable from the older guys… But to those under 35/40 who have signed up, you have taken a big risk. And it shows to the rest of us (peers included) how little commitment you have to your respective Tours (who have done a lot for you), and ultimately what money means to you."

The inaugural tournament clashes with the Canadian Open on the PGA Tour, an event at which Johnson is a previous winner.

Rory McIlroy described the Canada event and this week's Memorial Tournament as "proper golf tournaments" on Wednesday, as he reflected on the LIV Series line-up.

"I certainly don't think the field is anything to jump up and down about," McIlroy said of the Centurion Club tournament.

Northern Irishman McIlroy has tempered his comments on the LIV Series in recent months, having previously been robust in his opposition.

He understands its appeal to some, but has been quite clear he will not be taking part.

"Some guys are in a position where they are not guaranteed a job next year. It's hard to stay in the top 125, especially when you're in your 40s and maybe don't hit the ball as far as you've used to. As we've seen, it's a young man's game nowadays," McIlroy said.

"So if another entity comes along and says, 'we'll guarantee you this amount for three years', plus you're playing for a ton more prize money, you're playing fewer events and you can spend more time with your family it's very appealing to some of those guys that are in that position."

Phil Mickelson had long been linked with the LIV Series, but the 51-year-old has not played since apologising for comments made about the Saudi Arabia regime and has not been included on next week's start list. The American said in February he was taking a break from golf and did not defend his US PGA Championship last month.

Rory McIlroy reflected on the US PGA Championship as "one that got away" after he failed to capitalise on a great start at Southern Hills.

McIlroy led the second major of the year after carding a five-under 65 in his first round last Thursday.

That proved to be a false dawn, as the Northern Irishman followed that up with a 71 in his second round and went in the wrong direction on moving day when he shot a 74.

McIlroy finished with a 68 to take eighth place in Tulsa, where Justin Thomas beat Will Zalatoris in a play-off to take the title.

It is eight years since McIlroy won the last of his four majors and he knows he missed a golden opportunity in Oklahoma.

"Regrets? Yeah I regret I didn't take advantage of the benign conditions on Friday afternoon," McIlroy said in a conference call to promote the new GolfNow Compete App.

"I regret the big numbers I made on the par threes on Saturday. The fact that I just needed to play the last 13 holes in one-under par to make a play-off on Sunday, and I didn't.

"So, yeah, I definitely feel like it was one that got away. But, again, I have to take the positives – and the fact that eighth place in a major is absolutely the worst I feel I could’ve finished last week."

The world number eight, runner-up in The Masters last month, is pleased with the progress he has made over the last year.

"The first two majors of last year, I missed the cut at Augusta and I finished like 50th at the PGA," he said.

"I just have to stay as patient as possible. I know that if I keep playing the golf that I'm playing the chances are going to present themselves and I'm going to give myself a few more chances this year, not just to win majors but to win golf tournaments in general."

McIlroy has not spoken to Dr Bob Rotella about his performance at the US PGA, but says his mental coach has been in touch.

"He sent me a nice text on Sunday night," he said.

"There's a lot to be positive about where my golf game is now compared to where it was last year, it's miles ahead of that. I feel like the consistency is back in my golf game that really hasn't been there.

"I feel like this year is very similar to 2019, when I had one of my best years ever and won four times, and I was PGA Tour Player of the Year."

McIlroy will play in the Memorial, the RBC Canadian Open, the Travelers and the U.S. Open. He will then miss the Irish Open and play in the JP McManus Pro-Am prior to The Open at St Andrews, which starts on July 10.

Justin Thomas ultimately prevailed in a thrilling US PGA Championship, lifting the Wanamaker Trophy after Mito Pereira's collapse on the 18th hole forced a playoff.

Holding the lead coming into the final round, Pereira only needed a par on the 18th hole to secure his first PGA Tour victory, but put his drive in the water and could not even salvage a bogey to earn his spot in the playoff.

With a double-bogey capping off a final round 75, he went from six under to four under, tying for third with Cameron Young.

The playoff was contested between Thomas and Will Zalatoris after both players produced clutch shots late in their rounds to finish at five under.

Thomas – who tied for the round of the day with his 67 – had a birdie putt on 18 to move to six under, but could not convert from 10 feet, finishing with a par to head into the clubhouse in outright second place, trailing Pereira by one shot.

Zalatoris, on the other hand, bogeyed the 16th to drop to four under, but came right back with a birdie on 17. He had a tricky par putt on 18 to remain tied with Thomas, and he remained cool under pressure.

In the playoff – which was contested over the aggregate score of three holes, the first being a par-five – Zalatoris appeared to strike first as he found the fairway with his drive, while Thomas hit the rough. Thomas was forced to lay-up, while Zalatoris made the green in two.

Zalatoris two-putted for his birdie, while Thomas put his wedge to within six feet, converting his birdie putt to tie the first playoff hole.

The second playoff hole was the 17th – a drivable par-four – and Thomas found the green with his drive. Zalatoris did not, and after chipping into birdie range, he missed his putt, tapping in for par. Thomas, on the other hand, safely two-putted for birdie to take a one stroke lead into the final playoff hole.

Both players drove well and made the green in regulation on the last, and after Zalatoris failed to sink a long birdie putt, Thomas only needed to two-putt for par to secure his second career major, making no mistakes. It is his second PGA Championship, five years after winning at Quail Hollow.

Also making the top-five was the English duo of Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood – with the latter matching Sunday's best score – and American Chris Kirk, tied for fifth at three under.

It was a strong final round from Rory McIlroy, who rebounded from a disappointing 74 on Saturday to shoot 68 – one stroke off the round of the day – to finish outright eighth at two under.

McIlroy looked like he may be trending for a legendary final round after four consecutive birdies starting on the second hole, but he would claim no more from the fifth.

A four-man group of Mexico's Abraham Ancer, Ireland's Seamus Power and the American pairing of Tom Hoge and Brendan Steele rounded out the top-10, and the last players to finish under par.

Cameron Smith and Xander Schauffele highlighted the group at even par, while the big names struggled, as Jordan Spieth finished at four over, Jon Rahm wrapped up at six over, and Collin Morikawa at eight over.

Shot of the day

The shot of the day went to Englishman Laurie Canter, who birdied the difficult par-four 18th hole from the fairway.

After his drive found the rough, he was forced to lay-up 97 yards from the pin, but was able to convert it thanks to some sharp backspin.

A little birdie told me…

Before his horror drive on 18, Pereira earned his 71-hole lead with great success on the difficult par-fives and par-threes. He joined Webb Simpson as the only players to shoot a combined six under on the par-fives (fifth and 13th holes) over their four rounds

Only four players finished under par for the week on the par-threes (sixth, eighth, 11th and 14th holes) – Fitzpatrick and Rose were two under, while Pereira and Steele shot one under.

On average, nobody drove the ball further than Rory McIlroy this week, posting 347.6 yards per drive. However, the longest drive of the week went to Jon Rahm, with a 418-yard bomb.

Mito Pereira became the first Chilean to lead a major as the elements shook the field at the US PGA Championship on Saturday, holding a three-stroke lead coming into the final day.

Strong winds and grey skies meant moving day took on a more distinct meaning at Southern Hills, with four of the players in the top 10 finishing their rounds on Saturday with scores over par.

Pereira was close to making that five but recovered from four bogeys in five holes between eight and 12, scoring back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th before sinking a long birdie putt on the 18th to finish the day on a one-under 69.

The 27-year-old leads an unheralded group at the top of the leaderboard at nine-under par after 54 holes, with the top four players yet to win a tournament on the PGA Tour.

With several big names missing the cut including world number one Scottie Scheffler and Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas remains the only top-ten player in the top ten at Southern Hills, shooting a four-over 74 on Saturday to sit seven strokes off Pereira.

The last time a player won a major for their maiden PGA Tour victory was Danny Willett's dramatic 2016 triumph at the Masters, capitalising on Jordan Spieth's back-nine collapse on the final day.

Willett's countryman, Matt Fitzpatrick, is tied for second with Will Zalatoris at six-under par after recovering from back-to-back bogeys on the opening two holes to shoot a three-under 67.

Cameron Young sits a further stroke back after scoring a 67 of his own on Saturday, on the back of an eagle on the par-four 17th.

First-round leader Rory McIlroy's hopes of winning his first major in eight years faded, tumbling down the leaderboard with a four-over 74.

Starting the day five strokes back, McIlroy followed up a double-bogey on the sixth with back-to-back bogeys on the next two holes, before a triple-bogey on the par-three 11th to finish on par after 54 holes.

Will Zalatoris took advantage of the friendlier conditions later on Friday to finish his round five under, giving him the outright lead at nine under through two rounds at Southern Hills Country Club.

He is the only player to shoot 66 or better in the first two rounds as fellow fast-starters Rory McIlroy and Tom Hoge both finished over par their second time around the course.

Zalatoris went bogey-free, birdieing the first hole, the 17th, and three consecutive starting on the 11th. While the conditions were conducive to scoring, both of his playing partners – Cameron Smith and Victor Hovland – shot even-par 70s.

In outright second place at eight under is Chile's Mito Pereira, who was one shot off the round-of-the-day with his six-under 64, leaving him at eight under through two rounds. He had seven birdies – including back-to-backs on holes four-five and 10-11 – and just one bogey on 12.

Justin Thomas posted his second consecutive 67 to have a share of third place at six under, and he is one shot ahead of Bubba Watson, who shot Friday's best round of 63 – tying the course record – with nine birdies and two bogeys. He sits alone in fourth.

Tiger Woods was in danger of missing the cut after a double-bogey on the 11th moved his score to five over, but he responded in terrific fashion.

Showing his quality, Woods one-putted on the next six greens for two birdies and four pars to leave him one shot inside the cut-line (four under) heading onto the 18th. With a par on the last, he finished his round one under and earned two more rounds of action.

First-round leader McIlroy is in a share for fifth af four under after his round of 71, and he's tied with Mexico's Abraham Ancer and America's Davis Riley.

England's Matt Fitzpatrick and American Stewart Cink are one further shot back at three under in a tie for eighth, and there is a logjam at two under, tied for 10th, highlighted by Cameron Smith, Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Kuchar.

A strong grouping of Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau and Jordan Spieth are part of a large contingent at one over, with Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm a further stroke back after they posted scores of 67 and 69 respectively on Friday.

Jason Day is tied with Woods at three under, while at four under Collin Morikawa and Hideki Matsuyama just did enough to qualify for the weekend.

Tiger Woods says Rory McIlroy "made it look very easy" after the Northern Irishman set the early pace on day one of the US PGA Championship.

Seeking a first major in eight years, McIlroy carded five-under 65 to take a one-shot lead into the clubhouse at Southern Hills on Thursday.

The 33-year-old, who won this event in 2012 and 2014, closed with a birdie on the final hole – his seventh of the day – to put himself in strong contention for another title.

He teed off in a marquee group alongside Jordan Spieth and Woods, who carded 74 and 72 respectively, with the latter impressed by what he saw from McIlroy.

"Obviously you can shoot something in the mid-60s, Rory proved that today," Woods told Sky Sports. "He made it look very easy. 

"He had a couple of shots where he slipped away and he still shot five under and made it look very easy."

McIlroy, who finished second in last month's Masters after shooting a record-equalling eight-under 64 on the final day, is not getting carried away just yet.

"I came in here knowing that my game was in good shape," McIlroy said. "So it's just a matter of going out there and executing the shots that you know that you can.

"Today I did that very well and I just need to try to replicate that tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday and not get ahead of myself, but it was a great start."

While McIlroy is in a strong position, Woods faces an uphill battle to make the cut, as he did at the Masters last month, but he is not giving up hope of a big recovery on Friday.

"It can be done, I've witnessed it first-hand, so hopefully I can put together something similar tomorrow and get myself back in this tournament," he said.

The 15-time major winner is competing in just his second tournament since sustaining serious leg and foot injuries in a car accident 15 months ago.

Woods felt some discomfort towards the end of an erratic opening round, which ended with him nine strokes behind McIlroy.

"Physically, I've felt better," he told Sky Sports. "Emotionally, I've actually felt better too. 

"It was frustrating. I got off to a great start today, I did exactly what I needed to do starting out the round, but I did not keep it going.

"I hit a lot of bad iron shots, put myself in a lot of bad spots and never really gave myself any birdie putts. 

"I actually felt comfortable with the driver, I hit a lot of fairways with it, but from there it wasn't very good. Most of my bunker shots I hit were long, came out hotter than I thought. 

"But predominately I just hit bad iron shots. That's not normally how I play, but today unfortunately that's kind of what it was."

Tiger Woods made a bright start to his US PGA Championship quest as he headed out in esteemed company with Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.

The star trio played to a bumper early-morning gallery at Southern Hills, Tulsa, where Woods won his fourth and most recent US PGA Championship title in 2007.

Woods had a birdie at his first hole and was one under through three holes, with Spieth and McIlroy soon joining him on that mark.

Starting at the 10th hole, all three began well off the tee, with Woods receiving by far the loudest reception and hitting the longest drive of the trio at 339 yards.

"Do you mind giving me some breathing space please. Back off a little bit," Woods said towards a camera crew as he walked down the first fairway.

He fired a sweet wedge to three feet away from the hole and made no mistake from that range, holing for an immediate birdie.

Woods found the heart of the green at the short 11th, his second, and sent his putt to just six inches away, tapping in for par.

He had a birdie chance at 12 from around 20 feet away but pushed it just right of the hole. McIlroy and Spieth made their first gains at that hole.

Speaking on Tuesday, Woods said he could "definitely" be a title contender, despite this being just his second tournament back since the February 2021 car crash that saw him sustain serious leg and foot injuries. He made the cut at the Masters last month, before fading as the hilly Augusta course took a physical toll on the 46-year-old former world number one.

"My team did just an amazing job just to get me to a point where I could play the Masters and I was able to have that opportunity to play," Woods said. "Right after each round, it was like getting back to the house and we have an ice bath ready for you, and off you go, get on the treatment table and let's keep working at it, keep things going, and it was tough. It was hard. It was hard on all of us.

"But I've gotten stronger since then. But still, it's still going to be sore and walking is a challenge. I can hit golf balls, but the challenge is walking. It's going to be that way for the foreseeable future for sure."

John Daly, the 1991 US PGA champion, was two under through seven holes and held a share of the lead with Robert MacIntyre, Max Homa, Y.E. Yang, Xander Schauffele and Will Zalatoris early in the first round.

Tiger Woods will be joined in a golfing super-group by Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy for the first two rounds of the US PGA Championship.

The trio, who between them have landed 22 titles at the majors, will begin on Thursday at 08:11 local time (13:11GMT) at Southern Hills, the Oklahoma course that is staging the tournament for a fifth time.

Woods, who won the last of his four US PGA titles at Southern Hills in 2007, has played only one tournament this season, making the cut at the Masters in April.

He is continuing to recover from the foot and leg injuries he sustained in a car crash in February of last year, but there were flickers of the old Woods during his performance at Augusta.

Woods said in a news conference on Tuesday: "It's better than the last time I played a tournament, which is good

"We've been working hard. I have days when it is tough and days where we can push through, but we keep working at it."

Woods has 15 majors to his name, McIlroy has four, including two at the US PGA, and Spieth needs a win at this event to complete a career grand slam, having won each of the other three majors once.

McIlroy believes 46-year-old Woods would not have entered this week if he did not believe it possible to contend come Sunday.

"Six weeks is a long enough time to recover from that week [at the Masters] and then build yourself back up again. He certainly hasn't chosen two of the easiest walks in golf to come back to, Augusta and here," McIlroy said.

"But he's stubborn, he's determined. This is what he lives for. He lives for these major championships, and if he believes he can get around 18 holes, he believes he can win."

Keegan Bradley shot a three-under 67 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead after 54 holes at the Wells Fargo Championship on Saturday.

The 35-year-old scored the low-round on a rain-interrupted day at TPC Potomac to finish on eight-under after 54 holes.

After splitting two birdies and bogeys on the front nine, Bradley regrouped on the back nine with two birdies on the opening three holes, before claiming another on the par-four 16th hole.

Max Homa is two strokes back on six-under after a one-over 71 for the day, with Anirban Lahiri and James Hahn a further two strokes back on four-under.

Heavy rain in Maryland during the week has wreaked havoc at Avenel Farm, but the windy conditions were just as impactful on Saturday's play, requiring particularly gritty shot selection.

Jason Day began the round with a three-stroke lead but shot a disappointing nine-over on moving day, with his tournament unravelling on the front nine.

Day found the water on consecutive holes after a bogey on the par-three third, posting a triple-bogey and bogey respectively, and then scored a double-bogey on the par-five 10th to eventually finish on 79.

While Bradley had the day's low round, only four players cracked par on Saturday, including Rory McIlroy who recovered from Friday's score of 73 and bogeys on the opening two holes to post two-under for the day.

Bradley will come into Sunday seeking his fifth PGA Tour tournament win, with his last coming at the 2018 BMW Championship, which he won in a playoff over Justin Rose.

Jason Day will head into the weekend at the Wells Fargo Championship as a strong favourite after extending his first-round lead to three strokes in Friday's action.

After posting a 63 in much friendlier Thursday conditions, Day was solid again, birdieing two of his first three holes, and was four under through 13. 

After a bogey on 14 and 17, he ended his day on the right foot with a birdie on 18 for a three-under 67, sitting at 10 under through two rounds.

Day, who has not won a PGA Tour event since 2018, told the media after stepping off the 18th green that he is excited to be back in this position after previously spending 51 weeks as the world number one before a number of injuries.

"I'm looking forward to it – it's nice to be back in the mix, nice to be leading," he said. "It's still two more days left, so I can't get too far ahead of myself.

"I mean, not many times you see this hair (after being forced to play without a hat due to the rain), but hopefully this weather can kind of go away and we can have hats on for the weekend.

"When you have conditions like this, it's really hard to commit to a shot because you're going in there and you're doing it kind of a lot quicker than your normal pre-shot routine.

"You have to force yourself to hit the shot and trust that."

Max Homa has a hold of outright second at seven under after posting a 66 – tied for the second-best round of the day. Also shooting 66 was Luke List, who drove the green on the par-four 14th hole to putt in for eagle, flying up the leaderboard into a tie for third at six under.

One shot further back at five under is a small group highlighted by Keegan Bradley, who had the round of the day with seven birdies and two bogeys for his 65.

A strong international contingent is in a tie for 10th at four under, with English duo Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick, as well as India's Anirban Lahiri and Slovakia's Rory Sabbatini.

Abraham Ancer is part of the group at three under, while some big names are a further shot back, including Tony Finau, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler and Camilo Villegas.

Rory McIlroy, Corey Conners and Matt Kuchar will live to see the weekend after finishing right on the cut line at even par, while Aaron Rai was not so lucky, going from a bogey-free 65 on Thursday to a birdie-free 76, missing the cut at one over.

Also missing the cut was Charl Schwartzel, Francesco Molinari, Marc Leishman and Webb Simpson.

A chip-in on the 15th hole propelled Jason Day to the outright lead on his way to a seven-under 63 in the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship.

After a solid front nine, where he birdied three of his first five holes, it was an action-packed second nine. He birdied 10, 12, 14, 15 and 16, with his sole bogey coming on the 13th.

Only posting three top-10 finishes from 22 events last season – with a best result of tied-seventh – Day is already in search of his third top-10 result this season in his 11th event, seemingly rediscovering some of the form that has seen him spend 51 weeks as the world number one.

Speaking to the media after stepping off the 18th green, Day was careful to not get ahead of himself, but emphasised his focus on creativity as opposed to just technique.

"I'm obviously, I think, a long way away from being that confident in myself in regards to my game," he said.

"But I feel like [with what I've worked on with my swing] I'm a little bit more creative on the golf course, because at some point you have to get out of the technical aspect and go more creative.

"I feel like things are progressing nicely, and I just have to keep my head down and keep going.

"It is actually very encouraging [to be healthy and confident in his body] because typically if I play well, then people ask me how my back is, and that's probably not something you want to always constantly want to be talking about.

"I've done a lot of work, and been very diligent and disciplined in my approach to staying healthy. I get hiccups every now and then, but for the most part – touch wood – I've been really good."

There was a spectacular start to the day for American Joel Dahmen, who was six under through eight holes, including four consecutive birdies starting on the fifth, before cooling off and finishing at six under for outright second.

One shot further back in the group tied for third were England's Aaron Rai and Callum Tarren, who had just one bogey between them.

Rickie Fowler highlighted the next group at four under after coming back from one over through eight holes, with four birdies, one eagle and one bogey in the last 10. 

Fowler sat one stroke ahead of a logjam at three under, which included defending champion Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Max Homa and Matt Kuchar, with England's Matt Fitzpatrick and India's Anirban Lahiri at two under.

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