CHARLOTTE – (Special to Digital Sports desk by The Sports Xchange) – Now would be a good time for Thorbjorn Olesen to put it all together because he senses he might be getting close. Olesen turned in a solid opening round in the PGA Championship on Thursday, sharing the first-round lead with Kevin Kisner at Quail Hollow Club.
“I’ve had some good rounds in majors, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot over the years playing quite a few majors now,” he said. “I feel like I’m better prepared to be in contention over the weekend and have a chance to win.”
Olesen and Kisner shot 4-under-par 67s for a one-shot edge on Brooks Koepka, Grayson Murray, Gary Woodland, Chris Stroud and D.A. Points.
Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth’s much-anticipated bid for a career grand slam began with a 1-over-par 72.
With different parts of his game emerging, Olesen said tweaking some details might be all it takes.
“I feel more confident with myself and my game than I probably did a few years ago,” he said. “So obviously a lot of things can happen. I just have to stay relaxed the next few days, still trying to keep the ball in the fairway, and then I know I can hit it close and make some birdies.
“That’s the key right now to my rounds is just getting that driver going, and then I feel like I’m in a good position with the rest of my game.”
Olesen, who is from Denmark, said he took advantage of ideal morning conditions, benefiting from a setting that was minus wind and before the midday heat.
“I was striking the ball very well,” Olesen said. “Yeah, I made it easy for myself. Obviously, it was a nice way to finish with a very long putt there on 18.”
Olesen’s effort on No. 18 marked only the fourth birdie on the finishing hole among golfers in the morning group.
Olesen responded from a bogey on No. 17 with a birdie on the last hole with a 30-foot putt to regain the solo top spot.
Several hours later, Kisner, who finished in the early evening, also birdied No. 18. He drained a 20-footer for his third birdie among the last five holes.
“I’m just going to be trying to stick to birdieing the holes they give to you to make birdie,” Kisner said. “If I’m in the fairway, I’m going to putt from 30 feet. I’m content with that.”
Spieth, who put himself in position to complete a career grand slam by winning last month’s British Open, began at 1-over. Spieth, starting on the back side, was even through nine holes with a birdie on No. 15 followed by a bogey on the next hole.
“I don’t think I was as free rolling as I thought I’d be,” Spieth said.
Spieth had birdies on his last two holes after bogeys on the two previous holes. While not in ideal position, it wasn’t a lost cause.
“It’s much easier when you are on the front page of the leaderboard than it is coming from behind,” he said. “Given it’s the first round, I know I’m still in it, but I know that (Friday’s) round becomes that much more important to work my way and stay in it.”
Koepka said Spieth might have been off with his putting a tad, but nothing that should be a concern.
“He’s a grinder,” Koepka said. “It’s impressive to watch him play. He picks apart a golf course really, really well.”
Koepka has won one major this year by capturing the U.S. Open in June.
Koepka said he avoided significant trouble and that contributed to his encouraging outing.
“I think people get quite frustrated sometimes in majors,” he said. “I’ve seen it a lot. You’ve just got to stay really patient and realize sometimes bogey is not a bad score out here.”
Murray, a North Carolinian, was playing in the day’s first group in his first PGA Championship. He said he felt support by competing in his home state even though he had never played on the course until this week.
“It’s good motivation for me,” Murray said of hearing people pulling for him. “Charlotte is only 2 1/2 hours from Raleigh, so I feel like it’s a home game.”
Murray’s only other appearance in a major came when he missed the cut in the 2013 U.S. Open.
Woodland led through nine holes at 3-under. Points had pars on his last three holes.
Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey, Jim Herman, Bud Cauley, Rickie Fowler and Brian Harman were among those at 2-under. Casey was 3-under through five holes before stalling.
Jimmy Walker, the tournament’s defending champion, had an 81. Jason Day, the 2016 runner-up, shot 1-under.
NOTES: John Daly was even through 17 holes before a triple-bogey on the 18th. … Joost Luiten had a hole-in-one with a 184-yard shot on the fourth hole. … Brooks Koepka’s shot on No. 16 struck a marshal in the head, with the golfer checking on him. Tournament officials later reported that the man is fine, though he was sent home for the day. … Andrew Johnston withdrew from the tournament after posting a 78. … The tournament is being held at Quail Hollow Club for the first time. … This is the normal site of May’s Wells Fargo Championship, which this year was moved to Wilmington, N.C., because of this major championship coming in August