Rory McIlroy near top of leaderboard after 67; Tiger Woods has 69 in PGA Championship | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Rory McIlroy near top of leaderboard after 67; Tiger Woods has 69 in PGA Championship

Carl Pettersson of Sweden hits from the 13th fairway during the first round of the PGA Championship golf tournament on the Ocean Course of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Kiawah Island, S.C., Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. - Rory McIlroy began the PGA Championship in impressive fashion, taking advantage of a calm morning at Kiawah Island.

He wasn't the only one.

On a course softened by rain earlier in the week, McIlroy shot a 5-under 67 but was still three strokes behind leader Joost Luiten, who was threatening the tournament's 18-hole scoring record at 8 under through 14 holes. Tiger Woods looked sharp while making three straight birdies but had to settle for a 69 after an uneven round.

Carl Pettersson was at 6 under, a stroke ahead of McIlroy and Gary Woodland (67). John Daly and defending champion Keegan Bradley both shot 68.

"I really felt like we had to take advantage of the conditions," McIlroy said. "I'm expecting this to be the best day of the week."

Thunderstorms were possible later Thursday and throughout the tournament, but skies were mostly clear when the first groups teed off. McIlroy is trying to break an unusual pattern in which the last 16 majors have been won by 16 different players. He tied for 40th at this year's Masters, missed the cut at the U.S. Open and tied for 60th at the British Open.

McIlroy will be a contender on Kiawah Island's Ocean Course if he can build on the steady, bogey-free first round. McIlroy looked like golf's next big star after his U.S. Open win at Congressional last year, but expectations were tamer when he arrived at the PGA Championship for this year's final major. He finished tied for fifth last weekend at Firestone, perhaps a sign his game was coming around.

Bradley, playing in a group with Woods, began in impressive fashion with a birdie and an eagle on his first two holes. After starting the round on No. 10, Bradley made a 25-foot putt for eagle on the par-5 11th, while Woods had to scramble for par after a wayward drive.

Woods bounced back with a birdie on No. 12, bogeyed Nos. 13 and 14 and made a birdie at No. 15.

Woods, trying for his 15th major championship and first since 2008, looked frustrated when his tee shot missed the green to the left on the par-3 17th, but he saved par and then birdied Nos. 18, 1 and 2 to move back in the right direction. He ended up with six birdies and three bogeys on the day.

Bradley rallied to beat Jason Dufner in a playoff at this tournament last year, and he's coming off a victory at Firestone.

The 26-year-old Luiten, of the Netherlands, has one career win on the European Tour. A solid start Thursday became a great one when he eagled the par-5 16th. With four holes remaining, he had a chance to make a run at the tournament's 18-hole record of 63.

News from © The Associated Press, 2012
The Associated Press

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