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AS IT STANDS –9 Schauffele; -6 Finau, Theegala; -5 McIlroy, MacIntyre, Morikawa, Detry, Kim, Hoge – SELECTED OTHERS -4 Koepka, Scheffler; -3 Hovland, DeChambeau; -1 Rahm; +1 Woods, Fleetwood

Rory McIlroy made a promising start as Xander Schauffele created history on a low scoring opening day at the PGA Championship.

McIlroy’s five-under 66 leaves him four behind Schauffele after the world’s best took advantage of receptive greens and turned a soft Valhalla course into a birdie fest in round one.

World No.1 Scottie Scheffler holed out for a 167-yard eagle on the first hole on his way to an otherwise routine 67, while Brooks Koepka is also well placed five shots back.

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Nobody, however, made more birdies than the inspired Schauffele, who has now equalled the lowest score in men’s major history for the second time in 12 months.

Schauffele’s nine-under 62 matched his opening round score at last year’s US Open and opened up a three-shot lead in Kentucky, just days after emphatically losing out to McIlroy at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.

This was only the fourth time that a male player has shot 62 in a major, and Schauffele now has that distinction twice after the lowest round in this tournament‘s history. He wasn’t getting too ahead of himself, though.

“It’s a great start to a big tournament,” he said. “One I’m obviously always going to take. It’s just Thursday. That’s about it.”

Fellow Americans Tony Finau and Sahith Theegala are Schauffele’s nearest challengers after fine opening 65s.

And on a stacked leaderboard, McIlroy shares his five-under aggregate with another former champion in Collin Morikawa, Robert MacIntyre, Tom Hoge, Tom Kim and Thomas Detry.

“I felt like it was pretty scrappy for the most part,” the Northern Irishman said after making six birdies and just one blemish.

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“I don’t really feel like I left many out there – I thought I got a lot out of my game today. I am not really happy with how I played but I am happy with the score.”

When asked if it was nice to be back out focusing on the course, McIlroy replied: “It’s always nice to be inside the ropes.”

Defending champion Koepka, meanwhile, is back in his element at a major.

“I thought it was solid,” he said after an understated 67. “Felt like I just kind of stayed patient through the whole thing. It was pretty ho-hum.”

The big favourite Scheffler is ominously placed after a pretty seamless 17 holes followed his opening fireworks. Jon Rahm battled back admirably from four-over to finish one-under, while Tiger Woods is one-over after a 72.

Viktor Hovland showed glimpses of a return to form with a 68, the same score as Bryson DeChambeau. Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth are a shot further adrift at minus two.

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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