An opening 68 has Branden Grace well placed through 18 holes at the 100th playing of the PGA Championship, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
As the afternoon field starts to feel the breeze stiffen, Grace will be well pleased with his first-round exploits around Bellerive Country Club.
After ending the wait for a win at the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the end of last year, Grace has enjoyed a good season without capitalizing on some good form. In recent weeks, he hasn’t been as sharp as his November/December/January run but was looking sharp early on Thursday as he seeks to end South Africa’s barren run at the year’s final Major.
Not since Gary Player in 1972 has a South African lifted the Wanamaker Trophy.
Grace was accurate off the tee finding 85% of fairways in regulation and only saw his greens in regulation number drop beneath 80% after finishing in the greenside bunker on his final hole with a difficult lie in the thick rough.
Unable to save from the sand, Grace dropped his lone shot of the day with birdies at 12th, 17th and 5th helping to move him into the bunch sitting two behind early leader Rickie Fowler.
Two-time European Tour winner Dylan Frittelli, who made his first Major cut in this event last year, opened with a 73 after dropping three shots on his inward nine as he struggled for consistency from tee to green.
Brandon Stone opened with a birdie and was bogey-free through six holes. Charl Schwartzel and Justin Harding are yet to tee off.
Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images