Live blog: Rory McIlroy sets early PGA pace as Tiger Woods struggles to close round

It was a magical first round for Rory McIlroy Thursday.

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The 2022 PGA Championship begins on Thursday at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla. While the defending champion, Phil Mickelson, isn’t in the field, a ton of stars boasting big-time storylines are. Can Tiger Woods contend? Will Jordan Spieth complete the career grand slam? Can Scottie Scheffler make it back-to-back major titles? There’s lots to look forward to as we get underway with Round 1 of the PGA Championship, but for starters, all eyes will be on the marquee grouping of Woods, Spieth and Rory McIlroy.

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Live blog: Follow Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy in Round 1

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2:23 p.m.: It’s another bad tee shot from Woods, who needs to just get in the house. Has to play in from much further back and struggles from behind the green. McIlroy feeds his approach above the hole and wakes up his putter for a brilliant finish. His 18-foot birdie putt curls from right to left and cuts into the center of the hole. Never a doubt. A five-under 65 for Rory and the outright lead. Spieth makes a good up and down from beyond the hole for a closing par. Woods polishes off a disappointing bogey for 74. Scores through 18 holes: McIlroy -5 (solo leader), Woods +4, Spieth +2.

2:07 p.m.: It feels like Tiger is running out of steam now. Walking reporter Billy Kratzert said he saw Woods “wince” after hitting his approach, which bleeds out to the right greenside bunker. Rory found himself in the left greenside bunker, but he got a lot closer than Tiger, who thinned his bunker shot and it nearly went all the way through the green. McIlroy still missed his 8-footer. Bogey. Two putts for Tiger and another bogey for him as well. Leaking oil! Spieth was once again the only man in the group to hit the green off the tee. Two putts for him and he’s sorta settled in finally. Scores through 17 holes: McIlroy -4 (tied for lead), Woods +3, Spieth +2.

1:56 p.m.: The 7th fairway cants pretty hard from left-to-right, and the only man to hit it is Spieth with that tidy draw. Rory badly hooked a 3-wood, but scrambles from the matted down rough thanks to the fans at Southern Hills. Tiger, on the other hand, flared his drive badly to the right, and was nearly sniped by the tee shot of Min Woo Lee on the 2nd hole! Tiger punched his ball into a greenside bunker, splashed up and made his par putt. Young Jordan finally adds another birdie to get back to two over. Scores through 16 holes: McIlroy -5 (overall leader), Woods +2, Spieth +2.

1:35 p.m.: The squad didn’t make the 6th look easy at all. Tough pin middle left today. Rory flares his approach out to the right, Spieth leaves his a bit short and Tiger ends up pin-high and off the green left. Spieth, the lone man on the green, shorted his first putt and missed his second. Rory plays his on to 9 feet and missed the par-saver. Tiger, the vet in the group, two-putts from off the green for par. Scores through 15 holes: McIlroy -5 (overall leader), Woods +2, Spieth +3.

1:19 p.m.: There are multiple ways to play the 665-yard par-5 5th. There’s the McIlroy way, hitting a tee ball 369 yards into the fairway, hitting up into the greenside bunker, splashing out and making a birdie. There’s also the 3-shot variety that Spieth and Woods took, hitting spinny wedges into the green. Neither of them made birdie, though. Scores through 14 holes: McIlroy -6 (overall leader), Woods +2, Spieth +2.

1:03 p.m.: Rory with driver is so, so good today. He ranks 1st in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee. He pitched on to the 4th, but missed a birdie try. Would have been unfair, if we’re being honest. Tiger’s stinger tee shot on 4 got caught up in the rough, leading to another bogey. Scores through 13 holes: McIlroy -5 (overall leader), Woods +2, Spieth +2.

12:45 p.m.: Tiger gets off the snide on No. 3, making his first birdie since his 5th hole of the day and igniting the crowd at Southern Hills. He’s back down to 1 over. A pair of pars for McIlroy and Spieth keep those two at 5 under and 2 over, respectively. Scores through 12 holes: McIlroy -5 (overall leader), Woods +1, Spieth +2.

12:26 p.m.: More Rory movement on No. 2! McIlroy gets to 5 under on the day with a birdie on No. 2, building a two-stroke lead over the field at Southern Hills. In that same breath, Tiger is headed in the opposite direction, grabbing his third-straight bogey on the second. He’s now tied with Spieth at two-over. Scores through 11 holes: McIlroy -5 (overall leader), Woods +2, Spieth +2

12:11 p.m.: Woods’ drive on the par-4 1st missed just left of the fairway, but got pinned behind a tree. A punch out, followed by a chip, followed by two putts resulted in a second-straight bogey. Elsewhere, Spieth and McIlroy made par. Scores through 10 holes: McIlroy -4 (overall leader), Woods +1, Spieth +2

11:50 a.m.: Tiger’s par putt skips just wide and he turns to his head to the sky. He taps in for bogey and makes the turn at even-par 35. Spieth misses his par putt, while McIlroy makes his. Scores through 9 holes: McIlroy -4 (overall leader), Woods E, Spieth +2

11:46 a.m.: More Spieth bunker magic places his ball to 6 feet. While Tiger punches out to 15 feet. Rory’s birdie putt trickles to a stop short of the hole. Three straight TOUGH par putts upcoming.

11:41 a.m.: McIlroy’s approach lands just long of the green, while Tiger finds a nasty cross bunker behind the green. He’ll have a bunker shot from a downhill lie into a downhill green, down-wind. Tiger is going to need some theatrics to save par.

11:38 a.m.: Spieth and caddie Michael Greller have a long conversation about their second shot on the 18th, which rolled 6 inches into the rough. Spieth eventually takes a mighty hack with a hybrid, which squirts out of the rough and into brutal bunker shot left of the pin. McIlroy and Woods up next on their approaches.

11:32 a.m.: A steady cross breeze greets Woods/Spieth/McIlroy as they reach the 18th tee, leading some on ESPN’s coverage to speculate the 490-yard par-4 will play “closer to 520 yards.” All three players pump drives down the left side of the fairway. They’ll face beefy approaches into the elevated green.

11:20 a.m.: The first real breeze of the day blows in as all three players set up for easy wedge approaches on the short par-4 17th. Rory and Tiger leave theirs in the fringe short of the flagstick, Spieth to the fringe long of it. All three birdie looks result in two-putt pars, and the group heads to the 18th unchanged. Scores through 8 holes: McIlroy -4 (overall leader), Woods -1, Spieth +1

11:11 a.m.: On the 16th, two pars for Tiger and Rory keep them at -4 and -1, respectively. Spieth, on the other hand, records his second straight bogey to move to 1 over for the day. Scores through 7 holes: McIlroy -4 (overall leader), Woods -1, Spieth +1

10:48 a.m.: Tiger hits a good putt from 20 feet but it rolls a foot-and-a-half past. He drops his first shot of the day. McIlroy keeps the momentum going, rolling in his putt for his fourth-straight birdie. Spieth can’t sink his par-saver and makes bogey. Scores through 6 holes: McIlroy -4, Woods -1, Spieth E

10:44 a.m. ET: Spieth hits first from the bunker at 15 and leaves himself a five-foot birdie try. Tiger’s bunker shot comes out hot and stops well past the hole. He’ll have a lengthy one for par.

10:41 a.m.: McIlroy hits a nifty iron shot with his approach at 15 that lands one foot onto the green and sets up another nice look at birdie. From an awkward lie in the rough, Spieth follows Tiger’s lead and lands it in the same bunker.

10:38 a.m. ET: With 180 yards left to the 15th green, Tiger struggles to make clean contact from the right rough and ends up in the front greenside bunker.

10:34 a.m.: Tiger is up first at the par-4 15th. He tries to hit a stinger with a long iron but loses it to the right, missing the fairway. McIlroy’s tee shot lands in the fairway but also runs into the right rough.

10:31 a.m.: Rory’s on a roll. The four-time major winner rolls in a mid-range birdie try at 14 to move into a tie for the lead, while Spieth two-putts for par. Not to be outdone, Tiger drains his own birdie putt from 15 feet to get within one of the lead. Scores through 5 holes: McIlroy -3, Woods -2, Spieth -1

10:26 a.m.: Rory is first on the 221-yard, par-3 14th and hits his tee shot well above the hole, leaving a long, downhill putt. Spieth’s up next and hits a beautiful draw with a 6-iron to set up a good look at birdie. Tiger is last and hits his 5-iron just inside of Spieth’s ball. Everyone is on the green.

10:23: Another long wait on the 14th tee. Tiger, Rory and Spieth are standing around and chatting it up while Tiger downs what looks like an egg breakfast sandwich.

10: 16 a.m.: Spieth can’t convert his birdie try at 13, with his ball burning the edge. Tiger cleans up his short par. McIlroy rolls in his birdie-4 to take the lead among our featured grouping. Scores through 4 holes: McIlroy -2, Woods -1, Spieth -1

10:13 a.m.: Spieth hits from the bunker and leaves himself a 10-footer for birdie. Tiger is next with his fourth shot and splashes it to two feet. McIlroy hits a short, low shot from the bunker and leaves it one foot short of the hole. Meanwhile, Max Homa makes another birdie to move into a tie for the lead at three under.

10:10 a.m.: Something is going on with the wind at 13. Tiger has a short approach but nearly airmails his wedge shot, sending his ball bouncing off the green into a back right bunker. Instead of having a look at birdie, he’ll have some work to do just to save par.

10:08 a.m.: With a small pond guarding the front of the 13th green, Tiger chooses to lay up with his second and hits a good one. Spieth and McIlroy, on the other hand, decide to go for the green in 2. Spieth comes up short, finishing in a front greenside bunker. McIlroy does the same thing as Spieth. They might have been fooled by the wind which is whipping the flagstick at 13.

10:05 a.m.: Check that — Zalatoris just made birdie at the par-5 13th to move into the solo lead at three under. Three birdies through his first four holes.

10:02 a.m.: There’s a big group of players tied for the early lead at two under, including Max Homa, Xander Schauffele and Will Zalatoris.

9:59 a.m.: Our trio has reached their first par-5 of the day at the 13th hole. Spieth smashes a solid drive into the fairway to get things started. McIlroy’s drive threatens to run into the right rough but stays in the short grass. Tiger hits a cut down the left side and all three players are in the fairway.

9:54 a.m.: Spieth follows Tiger at 12 and drains a 10-footer for his first birdie of the day. McIlroy putts last and cleans up for his own birdie. Scores through 3 holes: Woods -1, McIlroy -1, Spieth -1

9:50 a.m.: At the 12th green, Tiger is looking at a 25-footer for birdie. He makes a solid stroke but too hard, and it runs two feet past the hole.

9:46 a.m.: From 111 yards, Spieth sticks his approach to around 7 feet. Rory only has 85 yards left after his huge drive, and he makes it count, knocking it to within a few feet of the hole for a likely birdie.

9:45 a.m. : Tiger is forced to wait while the 12th green clears ahead, then he hits a nice iron shot into the middle of the greens setting up a mid-range chance at birdie.

9:38 a.m.: At the par-4 12th, Tiger pulls a long iron and hits one of his classic low stinger shots into the fairway. Spieth chooses driver and sneaks it into the left side of the fairway. McIlroy, also with driver, blasts it well past Jordan’s ball.

9:35 a.m.: Spieth hits a nice lag with his long birdie try to save par at 11. Tiger gives his mid-range putt a good look but it ends up inches below the hole leading to a tap-in par. Rory putts last and also misses his birdie chance. Scores through 2 holes: Woods -1, McIlroy E, Spieth E.

9:28 a.m.: Next up is the par-3 11th hole, which is playing 173 yards today. Tiger has the honors and hits a nice 8-iron safely into the middle of the green. Spieth reaches the green but spins it back to the front edge. McIlroy follows Tiger’s line and lands in a similar spot.

9:25 a.m.: Rory misses his lengthy birdie try and settles for par at 10. Spieth putts from a similar spot but closer to the hole and leaves it short, matching Rory’s par. Tiger, on the other hand, slams his short try home with confidence to open with a big birdie and get within one shot of the early lead.

9:20 a.m.: With 118 yards left, McIlroy hits his wedge approach safely onto the green, leaving himself about 25 feet for birdie. Spieth, from 100 yards, hits it beyond the hole and gets it to spin back inside of Rory’s ball. Tiger hits last from 95 yards, and sneaks a beautiful wedge just onto the front of the green and watches it settle a few feet away. Tiger wins again, he’ll have a shortie for birdie.

9:17 a.m.: Don’t look now, But 56-year-old John Daly just birdied the par-5 5th to move to 2 under and into a tie for the lead.

9:12 a.m.: Game time. Spieth has the honors on the10th tee in our featured grouping, and he hits a nice high, fade into the middle of the fairway. McIlroy is next and follows suit with a draw to a similar spot in the fairway. Finally it’s Tiger’s turn, and he outdrives them all, getting his ball to stop just short of the stream that bisects the 10th fairway. Solid start for everyone.

9:06 a.m.: As we wait for Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy to tee off for the opening round, a quick look at the very early leaderboard. There are currently several players tied at one under, and among them is 1991 PGA champion John Daly, who birdied the 1st and followed it up with three-straight pars.

This live blog will begin at 9 a.m. ET. Woods, Spieth and McIlroy begin their first round at 9:11 a.m.

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