SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (AP) — A stale year for Jimmy Walker came to life Thursday in the PGA Championship when he saw putts drop and wound up leading a major for the first time in his career.
A great year might get even better for Henrik Stenson.
Walker took advantage of smoother greens in the morning Thursday at Baltusrol by rolling in six birdies for a 5-under 65, giving him a one-shot lead after the opening round of the final major that delivered its share of surprises.
U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, with a chance to go to No. 1 in the world, was in the trees, in the water and couldn’t get out of a bunker. He managed only one birdie in a round of 77 that wasn’t enough to beat 15 of the club pros at Baltusrol.
Rory McIlroy took 35 putts and didn’t make a single birdie in his round of 74 that left him so frustrated that he returned to Baltusrol late in the day with his putter.
Stenson had his struggles on the greens, too, but the British Open champion he was rolling right along at the end with three birdies over his last seven holes for a 67.
Walker’s year has been so mediocre that he has finished within five shots of the winner only once this year, at Torrey Pines. He is on the verge of falling out of the top 50 in the world ranking and hasn’t given as much thought to Ryder Cup with qualifying a month away from ending.
Walker wound up with a one-shot lead over two-time major champion Martin Kaymer, Emiliano Grillo and Ross Fisher. Defending champion Jason Day had a 68, and Jordan Spieth shot 70.
Day played in the morning group with McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, and he was the only player without much stress. Mickelson, just 11 days after that magnificent duel with Stenson at Royal Troon, was 4 over through 11 holes when he rallied with a trio of birdies late in his round to salvage a 71.
WOMEN’S BRITISH OPEN
WOBURN, England (AP) — Mirim Lee shot a 10-under 62 to match the Women’s British Open record and open a three-stroke lead in the major championship at tree-lined Woburn Golf Club.
Three weeks after shooting a 64 in the first round of the U.S. Women’s Open, the 25-year-old South Korean player made the last of her 10 birdies on the par-3 17th and closed with a par.
Lee fell a stroke short of the LPGA Tour major record of 61 set by Hyo Joo Kim in the first round of the 2014 Evian Championship. Minea Blomqvist shot a 62 in the third round of the 2004 Women’s British Open at Sunningdale, and Lorena Ochoa had a 62 in first round of the 2006 Kraft Nabisco. Lee also matched her official LPGA Tour career low set in the second round of the 2014 LPGA Taiwan.
Lee birdied the first two holes, added another on the fourth and made five straight on Nos. 7-11 to reach 8 under. She also birdied the par-3 13th on the Marquess Course, the forest layout that is a big change from the seaside links that dominate the tournament rotation.
Ariya Jutanugarn was second after a bogey-free 65.
China’s Shanshan Feng had a 66, and American Stacy Lewis and South Korea’s Mi Hyang Lee shot 67.
England’s Charley Hull opened with a 69 in her home course.
Top-ranked Lydia Ko was tied for 89th after a 74. She bogeyed her final two holes.
ELLIE MAE CLASSIC
HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) — Stephan Jaeger shot a 12-under 58 in the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic to match the lowest score in major tour play.
The 27-year-old German player finished with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 ninth at TPC Stonebrae.
Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa also shot a 12-under 58 to win the 2010 Crowns on the Tour. Jaeger broke the Web.com Tour record of 59 held by Notah Begay III, Doug Dunakey, Jason Gore, Will Wilcox and Russell Knox. Six players have shot 59 in official PGA Tour events.
The three-time Southern Conference player of the year played both nines in 6-under 29. He birdied Nos. 11, 13-17 on his opening nine, and Nos. 1-2, 4-6 and 9 on his second nine. He got up-and-down for par on the par-4 seventh and barely missed a 30-footer on the par-4 eighth.
Jaeger came to the United States as a foreign exchange student in 2006. He went to high school for two years in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and played in college at Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Josh Teater, Xander Schauffele and Rhein Gibson were tied for second at 62.