Rory McIlroy struggling as US PGA Championship begins

Rory McIlroy faced an uphill battle to maintain his brilliant record in the US PGA Championship after getting off to a poor start at Baltusrol on Thursday.

McIlroy lifted the Wanamaker Trophy in 2012 and 2014 and has recorded three other top-eight finishes in seven appearances in the final major of the year.

The world number four was optimistic of turning what he called a B- season into an A+ by claiming his fifth major title on Sunday, but found himself at the wrong end of the leaderboard after nine holes of his opening round.

Starting on the back nine alongside defending champion Jason Day and Open runner-up Phil Mickelson, McIlroy missed from 10 feet for birdie on the 10th and even closer range on the 11th, before saving par from a greenside bunker on the next.

After missing the green on the 13th, McIlroy duffed his chip from the rough and failed to convert from six feet for par, before failing to get up and down from a bunker on the next following a poor drive.

A poor tee shot into more sand on the 16th led to a third bogey of the day, before McIlroy missed from five feet for birdie on the 636-yard 17th and failed to birdie the par-five 18th as well following a wild drive into the trees.

At three over par, the 27-year-old was already eight shots off the pace being set by American Ryder Cup player Jimmy Walker, who had covered the back nine in four under and picked up another shot on the first.

Compatriot Brian Stuard was a shot behind with four holes remaining, with England's Chris Wood - who was playing alongside Walker - and Paul Casey part of the group on two under which also included world number one Day.

Day had birdied the 11th and missed several other good opportunities before picking up a shot on the first, the 28-year-old having only managed one practice round after catching a bug from his son Dash and then spending Tuesday night in hospital after his wife suffered an allergic reaction.


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