Day 1 of the PGA Championship
The first day of the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club provided all the thrills and spills most of us were expecting, and the famous layout itself also played its part. Its long undulating greens proved tricky and challenging and it was noticeable how many players struggled with distance control both in their approach play and also once they were on "the dance floor".
But when we look back at the scoreboard after the first day and see that 78 players scored par or better with the leaders at 6 under already, then you know that the layout is "tame-able" and it'll be down to the skill levels on display to determine a winner as opposed to who has an early or late tee time to avoid bad weather or some factor out of their hands.
The pre-Championship favourites had very different days out on the course and also offered up some surprises as former world number one Lee Westwood played some brilliant, controlled golf to shoot a 6 under par 65, and hold onto a share of the lead alongside "lesser-known" Americans Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer. Westwood started very shakily with a double bogey 6 and other players may very well have been so rattled by that start that they might have gone from bad to worse. Not Westwood as he growled back at the course and shot 9 birdies and just one more bogey to sign his card with a smile on his face. He will have the experience and composure to be able to kick on today in round two - will he have the desire to go with it?
But the round of the day was without doubt the "exhibition golf" display from Rory McIlroy. He stormed out to a front nine 32 and 3 under par only to then undo all his hard work at the turn and go double bogey, bogey and slip back to even par. The commentators, the fans, all of us couldn't believe it. Had the "old" McIlroy returned from some time travel portal? The answer was very definitely NO. He promptly racked up 4 birdies on the trot and one last birdie at the final hole to sit at 5 under to lurk ominously and with intent just one shot off the pace.
And as McIlroy was able to scamper along the fairways with his booming 300m+ driver in his holster, his arch nemesis Sergio Garcia playing just a few minutes ahead of the Irish gunslinger, played the grittiest round of golf we are likely to see. And just like with Westwood where an early setback would have upset and frustrated the "old" Sergio, this time he put back to back bogeys behind him, knuckled down and worked hard to stay alive in this contest. Yes he dropped shots inexplicably at 5 and 6, but then was unlucky to shoot only 3 birdies after that in one of the cleanest, controlled rounds of golf you are ever likely to see. Garcia sits at 1 under par and is 4 shots off McIlroy and 5 shots off Westwood and company - that'll do nicely for the Spaniard!
The South African challenge never really got started yesterday but as expected Ernie Els showed how much he likes the Majors and also sits at 1 under par alongside compatriots Louis Oosthuizen and Richard Sterne, and all are well positioned to kick on today. Els certainly looked very gritty and determined and a good second round today and those competitive juices will start to flow and then we'll have a real scrap on our hands.
Unfortunately as expected Tiger Woods was disappointing. He shot 4 bogeys and a single birdie on his way to a 3 over 74 to be tied 109th and 9 shots off the pace. It's not as if he caught a few unlucky bounces or lipped out half a dozen birdie putts, he was just not good enough yesterday to shoot a strong sub-70 round. He's got a lot of hard work today to stay alive in this Championship and probably a 5 or 6 under par score will do it - I just can't see it happening though.
The weatherman is forecasting rain and thunderstorms for Valhalla Golf Club today, and that will add another dimension to the challenge the course provides. Looking at the leaderboard though, I think the players will provide enough fireworks in Odin's Hall without us also having to look skywards for extra excitement! Jeremy Harris is the sports anchor at 94.5 Kfm and 567 Cape Talk. He is a keen golfer and plays off a 6 at his home club, Arabella. He is the voice of the Sunshine Tour weekly highlights and monthly magazine programmes on Supersport. Follow him on Twitter @jeremyharris55
Jeremy Harris is the sports anchor at 94.5 Kfm and 567 Cape Talk. He is a keen golfer and plays off a 6 at his home club, Arabella. He is the voice of the Sunshine Tour weekly highlights and monthly magazine programmes on Supersport. Follow him on Twitter @jeremyharris55