American golfer Brooks Koepka held the lead Thursday after the first day of the PGA Championship, the second major of the year, at the Bethpage Black course on Long Island, near New York.
"If you hit fairways, you're going to be able to hit greens and get the ball close to the hole. So you can definitely shoot a number. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw another good score in the afternoon," Koepka said after his first round.
The winner of the 2017 and 2018 US Open and last year’s 2018 PGA Championship began and ended his round with two monster putts. After teeing off on the 10th hole he earned a birdie with a 40-foot putt and he was rewarded with another birdie on his last hole, with a 33-foot putt.
Koepka, who finished seven under par, at one stage was four strokes ahead of second place, until New Zealand's Danny Lee, come on the course and scored a six under, leaving him a single stroke behind the American.
"When the results are not there, it definitely gives you a little heartbreak and a little bit of terror out there," said a relaxed and smiling Lee. The New Zealander, currently 119th in the world rankings, also talked about his injuries which made him contemplate leaving golf and opening a Korean restaurant.
The winner of the 2002 edition and crowd favorite, American Tiger Woods, is nine strokes behind the leader with a 72 on his card (+2) despite scoring a huge eagle on hole 4.
"I felt like it’s not that hard to make bogeys out here, but it’s hard to make birdies. I thought it was going to be hard to get the ball close to holes," said Woods, who was paired with Koepka who was scoring no fewer than seven birdies and no bogey.
The players under par after the first round include Englishman Tommy Fleetwood (-3), American Chez Reavie (-2) and Luke List (-2), PGA Tour winner Sung Kang of South Korea and Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera (-2).
"Playing like this on the first day of a major is very special. I am very happy to start the tournament this way," Lorenzo Vera told Efe. He was born in Bayonne and of Spanish father, and is now tied for fourth place in the tournament during his second participation in the PGA Championship.