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Westwood co-leads PGA with Rory, Furyk in the mix

First Round – PGA of America – 96th PGA Championship –Valhalla Golf Club – Louisville, Kentucky –

Three players including England’s Lee Westwood share the overnight lead at the 96th PGA Championship.

Westwood rallied with five birdies in his final six holes to card a 6-under-65 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. He is tied with Americans Ryan Palmer (a three-time PGA Tour champion) and Kevin Chappell, who managed a bogey-free round.

Chappell, ranked 107th in the world and a 250-to-1 long shot this week at www.skybet.com, has two career runner-up efforts on the PGA Tour. But, his best finish in 2014 has been a T-10 at the Crowne Plaza.

Even after a 63 to finish off last Sunday’s final round at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Westwood entered the week as an afterthought.

The former World No. 1, who is now 34th in the Official World Golf Ranking, managed his best opening round score at a major championship. He won back in April at the European Tour’s Malaysian Open.

Top-ranked Rory McIlroy headlines a host of players one shot back at T-5 and 5-under. Rory fired eight birdies on his round, but had a double-bogey at No. 10 and a bogey at the 11th hole. His 66 tied him with Jim Furyk, Henrik Stenson, Chris Wood and Edoardo Molinari.

Furyk, 44, has been trending since the Open Championship contending nearly every week. He was bogey-free on his round finishing with three straight birdies. He needed just 27 putts hitting 14 of 18 greens in regulation.

Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson are both in the mix after 2-under-69s. They are T-20 heading into round two.

Other Golf News:

  • Defending PGA champion Jason Dufner withdrew at Valhalla after just 10 holes. The American was looking to earn an automatic spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team this week. But, instead, he withdrew after his bulging disk in his neck was acting up. Sixth-ranked Matt Kuchar (back) withdrew before his tee time Thursday.
  • Germany’s Sandra Gal (6-under) posted six straight birdies on his back-nine to secure the first-round overnight lead at the Meijer LPGA Classic in Michigan. Gal leads Inbee Park by just a shot. Lydia Ko, Azahara Munoz, Paula Creamer, Suzann Pettersen and Shanshan Feng are all inside the Top 10.
  • Westwood was a 50-1 pick to win the title coming into the week. He has eight Top 3 finishes in his major championship career without a victory. A solid effort this week would also secure his spot on the Team Europe for the Ryder Cup.
  • After shooting 3-over-74, Tiger Woods is part of a group of players in jeopardy of missing the cut Friday unless they can card a great second round. Woods sits T-109 alongside Keegan Bradley. Graham McDowell, Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker are all T-93.