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    Default PGA Championship Begins Today

    Everything you need to know for the first round of the PGA Championship


    Nick PietruszkiewiczESPN.com

    ST. LOUIS -- This PGA Championship opens with more questions than your average major championship. Of course, as usual, they begin with Tiger Woods and whether his game -- and his body -- are ready for the year's last major championship. But he's not alone. Can Jordan Spieth finish off the career Grand Slam? Will soggy Bellerive hold up under hot conditions? At 6:55 a.m. local time Thursday morning, we start getting answers.

    Will Tiger's body hold up?

    Not only does Tiger Woods' game need to hold up this week at Bellerive if he is going to end his decadelong major championship drought, but perhaps more critically his body needs to hold up. Woods admitted he is dealing with inflammation, which acted up last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he struggled to a pair of 73s on the weekend as he drifted down the leaderboard.

    "There's going to be certain days that I'm just not going to have the speed and the flexibility and the movement that I once did," Woods said. "I'm 42 now, and I've had four back surgeries. So things are going to be different from day to day, and it's just about managing it."

    Another factor could be the weather. The forecast is calling for heat and humidity all four days, with the temperature hovering around 90 degrees. More problematic, though, is the possibility of thunderstorms on the weekend, which could lead to delays. That could cause Woods to start and stop, which will put more strain on his back.

    "There are a lot of different layers to what Tiger has to go through to win again," Rory McIlroy said. "First of all, he had to learn how to move again. He had to learn how to swing. Geez, I mean, 18 months ago the guy couldn't walk. He was in bed. He just had his fourth back surgery, so to get to this point is a phenomenal achievement already.


    For Jordan Spieth, it's how he starts

    If Jordan Spieth is going complete the career Grand Slam with a win this week at the PGA Championship, he's going to have to get through Thursday. That might sound simple, but for Spieth that has been extremely hard.

    A solid Thursday could put him in position to get that one major missing from his résumé.

    "I think I was probably a little more anxious last year," Spieth said. "I feel somewhat under the radar this year. I've kind of felt that way a lot this year, I don't mind it. At the same time, this tournament will always be circled until I'm able to hopefully win it someday. It will always be circled to complete the career Grand Slam, which will ultimately achieve a lifelong goal for me. So certainly emphasis in my head on it, but nothing overpowering, nothing that takes over once I start on the first tee, just more going into the week."

    Make birdies -- lots and lots of birdies


    Bellerive was pounded by rain on Tuesday. More is expected on the weekend. Given the soft conditions, it's going to take a low score to claim the Wanamaker Trophy.

    "So I think you'll see guys shoot some low scores, given when they get into trouble you're not going to see that many bogeys or doubles," Spieth said.

    History already has proved that the PGA is the easiest of the four majors.



    This is not the U.S. Open or The Open, where hard, windy, dry conditions at both Shinnecock Hills and Carnoustie made stopping the ball in the proper spot a challenge. At Bellerive, that won't be a problem.

    "You're not going to see wedge shots spin a lot," McIlroy said. "You're going to see them stop dead. You're also going to see a 6-iron stop dead. It's going to be quintessential target golf. That's what it is this week. Where your ball lands is where it's going to really stay."

    Unlike the U.S. Open, at which the USGA does everything in its power to keep the winning score near even par, the PGA has no such mandate.

    "[The PGA of America is] not going to go out there and try and prove anything or do anything -- or mess up a course." Spieth said.

    This week, that likely means very low numbers.

    "I don't think they really care whether the winning score is 5 under par or 20 under par," McIlroy said.

    Who has the advantage?

    Woods has an idea on whom he thinks Bellerive's soft conditions favor.

    "If anything, it favors a guy who hits the ball high," he said. "Because we're not going to get any run. It's not going to dry out the rest of the week. It's going to be hot, it's going to be wet, and fortunately, I'm one of the guys who hits the ball high and gets the ball up in the air."

    That group would also include world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who is sixth on the PGA Tour in driving distance at 315.3 yards.

    "I feel like the course sets up well for me," Johnson said. "The way the course is playing, I hit pretty much all the clubs in my bag."

    "Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but don't nobody wanna lift no heavy-ass weight!"

    Ronnie Coleman
    Mr. Olympia

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    Default

    Leaderboard after day one. Tiger is even after a rough start.
    POS PLAYER NAMEPBP TOTAL THRU RD R1 R2 R3 R4 STROKES




    SELECT PLAYER



    1 -- Gary Woodland -6 8:01 am * 64 -- -- -- 64

    2 -- Rickie Fowler -5 1:04 pm 65 -- -- -- 65

    T3 -- Brandon Stone -4 3* E 66 -- -- -- 66

    T3 -- Zach Johnson -4 8:23 am * 66 -- -- -- 66

    T5 -- Austin Cook -3 12:26 pm * 67 -- -- -- 67

    T5 -- Ian Poulter -3 1:04 pm 67 -- -- -- 67

    T5 -- Pat Perez -3 1:15 pm 67 -- -- -- 67

    T5 -- Jason Day -3 1:26 pm 67 -- -- -- 67

    T5 -- Brian Gay -3 2:05 pm * 67 -- -- -- 67

    T5 -- Stewart Cink -3 2:10 pm 67 -- -- -- 67







    T5 -- Ollie Schniederjans -3 2:16 pm * 67 -- -- -- 67

    T5 -- Dustin Johnson -3 --* -- 67 -- -- -- 67

    T5 -- Kevin Kisner -3 8:01 am * 67 -- -- -- 67

    T5 -- Justin Rose -3 8:12 am * 67 -- -- -- 67

    T5 -- Thomas Pieters -3 8:34 am * 67 -- -- -- 67





    "Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but don't nobody wanna lift no heavy-ass weight!"

    Ronnie Coleman
    Mr. Olympia

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