Thorbjorn Olesen and Kevin Kisner are the surprise leaders after round one of the 99th USPGA Championship at Quail Hollow. The Dane Olesen took advantage of some good early conditions to go round in 67 to lead the final major of 2017 on four-under.
And in the twilight of the round he was joined by Kisner atop of the leaderboard as the American birded the 18th to ensure he goes into day two as one of the two men to catch.
A clutch of players from the USA are just one-shot back from the pair including the US Open champion Brooks Koepka and Gary Woodland, whose return to golf following his wife suffering a miscarriage continued with a round of 68. D.A Points is also three-under after gaining shots on 14 and 15
World number 91 Grayson Murray, on his tournament debut in North Carolina and the faultless Chris Stroud are also one-shot back. Seven players are in the chasing pack two shots behind Olesen and Kisner including the US Ryder Cup hero Patrick Reed, Englishman Paul Casey and Rickie Fowler.
"I feel good, I hit my driver well and got myself in some really good positions and it was a really nice way to finish with that long putt on the 18th," said Olesen. "I was very excited to get here, the greens have changed a lot with the speed and the grain. It's very challenging but it's good fun to play."
WGB-Bridgestone winner Hideki Matsuyama and Spain's Jon Rahm are among those one-under but with just 25 players having broken par during the opening round there is ample opportunity for a player from further down the leaderboard to stage a bid for the title.
Among those could be grand slam chasing Jordan Spieth, who after his success at July's Open Championship shot a one-over 72 but just five off the lead is far from a spent force. However, the Texan benefitted from going out early as the scoring dried up during the second half of the day.
Pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy - who opened his account on the PGA Tour in 2010 at Quail Hollow - is level with Spieth on one-over and remains very much in contention.
"It would have ben nice to shoot under par but I played a three-whole stretch on the back nine three-over and that really derailed my round," the Northern Irishman stated. "I've got a chance tomorrow to get some of those shots back."
A host of players fell foul of a course which while it has few visible hazards can punish players who drift out of position or misread the firm and lightning fast greens. Overhead conditions were benign yet the Charlotte course was showing its teeth.
Of those to succumb were South African Ernie Els who went round in 80, while 2005 champion Phil Mickelson threatens to miss the cut at the event for the first time in 22 years after shooting eight-over.
Defending champion Jimmy Walker, the winner from 2008 Padraig Harrington and the double Masters champion Bubba Watson are all at risk of missing the weekend's final two rounds unless they can rally in day two. Andrew Johnston meanwhile has withdrawn entirely with a shoulder injury after a seven-over round of 78.