Former Kansas golfer Gary Woodland shot a 6-under 64, taking the Day 1 lead at the PGA Championship on Thursday at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.
Woodland, a Topeka native, opened with a bogey on No. 1 before putting together a string of seven birdies on the final 11 holes.
“Maybe pressing a little bit early. I really settled in. I played great today, all day outside of that,” Woodland said in an interview on the PGA’s Twitter account. “It was nice to maybe get the jitters off early and get rolling. I saw some putts go in, and when I see putts go in, things change for me pretty big.”
Woodland, 34, fired a 30 on the back nine and finished 1 shot off a PGA Championship single-round record. He leads Rickie Fowler by 1 stroke, while Brandon Stone and Zach Johnson are tied for third at 4-under.
When asked about his success on the greens on Thursday, Woodland credited professional putting coach Phil Kenyon, saying he sought out Kenyon during the British Open three weeks ago.
“I was hitting it so good at the British, and just had nothing coming. He really stepped up, helped, worked a little bit last week, and it’s really starting to click,” Woodland said. “It’s been a little over two weeks of just some changes we made, and today, it was nice to see results, because I felt like I’d been putting pretty good the last couple days.”
Woodland, who golfed at KU from 2003-07, will start his second round at 8:01 a.m. Friday.