Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods with the large galleries on Bethpage today. Image: Getty
Defending champion Brooks Koepka tuned himself in as the man to beat the American PGA championship today, while Jason Day was the only Australian who broke into the famed brutal Bethpage Black on Long Island.
American Koepka made a bomb for birdie from the edge of the green on its first hole, the 10th of the course, and another long-distance on its last hole, the ninth, and made just about everything in between on its way to a seven – under par 63.
It was the lowest round in the history of the PGA championship and crushed the track record for the Black course, while Koepka played alongside Masters champion Tiger Woods in the midst of huge galleries.
"It was great that Tiger Augusta won, but we are now in a new week," said Koepka.
"It's clear that everyone in New York will encourage him, and it will be loud, especially if he makes a putt. You just have to keep fighting and find a way to get through."
Woods started with a two-over par 72 and is well back in the field, with two double bogeys, three birdies and an eagle. Three bogeys in the closing piece hurt him, mainly because Koepka didn't make any bogey all day.
Koepka, already a triple big winner at 29, led by four shots for a good part of the day until Kiwi Danny Lee came in with a 64. The Englishman Tommy Fleetwood was the best with a 67, but only about 10 percent of the field broke par.
The day struggled early, but held itself up with three birdies on the back nine, chaining a one-under par 69.
Adam Scott started with a one-over par 71, Cameron Smith hit a 73 and Lucas Herbert and Marc Leishman 74s.