Fowler chasing lead early on at PGA Championship

First Round Update — PGA of America — 96th PGA Championship — Valhalla Golf Club — Louisville, Kentucky —¬†

American Rickie Fowler sits 3-under through 14 holes and just two back of the current leader Kevin Chappell at the 96th PGA Championship in opening round action.

Fowler has Top 5 finishes in all three majors this season, but he has yet to convert a victory in 2014.

Italy’s Edoardo Molinari is one back at 4-under as the morning wave of tee times reaches the last-stages of round one action at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. There is definitely an international feel to the top of the leader board at the moment with Lee Westwood, Marc Leishman, Joost Luiten and Ian Poulter all under par and in the Top 10.

The Ryder Cup implications as a side bar to the drama this week, a number of players are trying to earn points to garner a spot on either Team Europe or the U.S. Team atop of winning a major championship. Both Westwood and Poulter — typical European Team stalwarts — are outside looking in on the standings at the moment.

Nearly tw0 dozen players are under par including World No. 2 Adam Scott, who has Top 10s in five straight PGA Tour starts. He was T-5 at the Open Championship and finished T-8 last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Both tournaments captured by new-No. 1 Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy has yet to tee off along with Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer and defending champion Jason Dufner.  Tiger Woods is 3-over through 14 holes, while Phil Mickelson is 1-over through 12 and T-37 at the moment.

Other Golf News:

  • Matt Kuchar, a winner at the RBC Heritage in April, withdrew from the PGA Championship with back issues. At No. 6 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Kuchar is the highest ranked American in the world. His back issues should be fine by the time the Ryder Cup rolls around in mid-September. But, another banged up American star isn’t what U.S. Team Captain Tom Watson needed to hear.
  • Germany’s Sandra Gal and American Gerina Piller co-lead the Meijer LPGA Classic in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the opening round at 5-under with a few holes to play. Lydia Ko and Stacy Lewis are both T-8 at the moment.
  • Dufner announced he is going to shut down his scheduling following this week to rest up for the Ryder Cup, if he makes the team. Dufner has been fighting a bulging disk in his neck that requires rest to recover. At 27th in the rankings, Duf would be a solid player for the U.S. Team (he is currently 9th in the Ryder Cup U.S. Team standings), which is already without Dustin Johnson (leave of absence).
  • Due to a schedule conflict with the Olympics in Brazil in August, the PGA of America is moving the PGA Championship tournament dates in 2016 at Baltursol. The event will be moved up to July 28-30. Players will have basically have back-to-back majors as the Open Championship is held in mid-July.