LOUISVILLE, Ky. — To absolutely no one's surprise, Tiger Woods is among the leaders early in today's opening round of the PGA Championship. To almost everyone's surprise, Scott Dunlap leads the field.
Powered by an eagle on the second hole and four birdies, Dunlap is 5 under through 12 holes at Valhalla Golf Club.
Woods, the defending champion, was at 3 under at the turn after stringing together three consecutive birdies. He was playing with four-time PGA winner Jack Nicklaus, struggling with his game and his emotions following his mother's death on Wednesday.
Utah's Jimmy Blair was the early leader in the clubhouse at the PGA Championship, for a few minutes anyway. Playing in the first group of the day, Blair fired a 3-over-par 75, which was better than his two playing partners. St. George's Jay Don Blake put himself in contention early as he stood 1-under-par through 16 holes.
The 37-year-old Dunlap has never won a PGA Tour event, making the elite field of the sport's fourth major championship because he ranks in the top 70 in earnings this season.
After his eagle on the par-5 second hole, Dunlap had a bogey and two birdies on the next three holes. Birdies at the ninth and 10th holes got him to 5 under.
Woods was tied for second with Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, with most of the field yet to tee off. At 2 under and still on the course were Edward Fryatt of Englad, David Toms, Brian Henninger and Darren Clark of Northern Ireland.
Cheered by a massive gallery, Woods backed up his role of favorite. He birdied the second hole despite pulling his drive into the left rough and finding a bunker.
He gave that shot back at the par-4 fifth when he drove into the right rough and bunkered his second, then failed to get up and down.
On the 597-yard seventh hole — which has alternate fairways — Wood's drive covered 331 yards and stopped a foot short of going through the "shortcut" fairway to the left. He hit his iron approach to 35 feet and two putted for birdie.
Woods closed his first nine with two more birdies, hitting a 20-footer at the par-3 eighth and then rolling in a downhill 12-footer for another birdie at No. 9.
Playing in the same group with Woods, a saddened Nicklaus was in trouble throughout his first nine holes on the course he designed. He double-bogeyed the first hole, three-putted for bogey on the third and made another bogey at No. 5.
Nicklaus planned to fly to Columbus, Ohio, after the round to be with family before returning for Friday afternoon's round.