Tommy Fleetwood makes strong start to PGA Championship at Bethpage
By Ali Stafford at Bethpage
Last Updated: 17/05/19 12:20am
Tommy Fleetwood was pleased to lead the English challenge after making an encouraging start to the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.
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The Englishman mixed six birdies with three bogeys on his way to an opening-round 67 in New York to stay within four strokes of early pacesetter Brooks Koepka.
Fleetwood birdied three of his opening four holes on his way to a front-nine 33, before recovering from a blemish at the 10th to post back-to-back gains from the 15th and post the second-lowest round of the morning starters.
"It felt like there were a few chances today, but it's still a brutal golf course," Fleetwood said. "As soon as you're out of position, you're going to struggle. There are some really tough holes out there, and you can't switch off for a minute.
"Luckily enough, I hit plenty of good golf shots. I holed all those putts that you want to hole that are kind of momentum putts and it was very accepting out there, so overall had a good day."
Fellow Englishman Matt Wallace briefly held the outright lead after playing his first seven holes in four under, only to slip down the leaderboard with a hat-trick of bogeys around the turn on his way to a first-round 69.
"It would have been nice to get a couple at the end, after giving myself chances at 16 and 18, but overall very happy," Wallace told Sky Sports. "I had that little stretch in the middle there where I missed fairways, missed greens and was going to make bogeys.
"I tried to stay patient and even in that middle spell, when I didn't play great, I stayed within myself and stayed calm. I'm really happy with today and with myself, more importantly, with how I performed."
Justin Rose was happy to bounce back from a tough start in which he dropped two shots over his opening four holes, carding four birdies and two further bogeys in a hard-fought 70.
"It was a tough golf course and I had to play really, really well to find birdie opportunities," he said. "But there were birdies out there, I think I had three or four today. It was tough to limit the mistakes, and obviously four birdies is probably going to wash out most days with four mistakes here and there."
Paul Casey slipped to two over after an ugly double-bogey seven at the 13th which was initially scored as an eight, but he also fought back and birdied 14 and 18 to match Rose's 70.
Tyrrell Hatton found himself at the top of the leaderboard after racing to three under after eight holes, but he bogeyed the next and dropped three more shots over the last six holes to slip to a disappointing 71 - eight behind the leader.
Former Masters champion Danny Willett mixed four bogeys with three birdies in his 71 and Ian Poulter birdied the last for a 72, while Ross Fisher (74), Lee Westwood (75), Matt Fitzpatrick (75) and Eddie Pepperell (76) will have to work hard on Friday to avoid a weekend off.
Watch the PGA Championship throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Friday with Featured Groups from 1pm on Sky Sports Golf.