Olesen, Kisner share lead as Spieth, McIlroy stumble

Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark plays his shot out of the bunker on the first hole during the first round of the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club on Thursday in Charlotte, North Carolina. — AFP

CHARLOTTE — Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen and American Kevin Kisner each closed with birdies Thursday to share a one-stroke lead at the PGA Championship while Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy stumbled in quest of golf history.

Olesen sank a 27-foot putt at the par-4 18th while Kisner's was from 21 feet as both birdied three of the last five holes to fire four-under-par 67s at Quail Hollow in the year's last major tournament.

One stroke adrift were US Open winner Brooks Koepka and fellow Americans Gary Woodland, Grayson Murray, Chris Stroud and D.A. Points. World No. 2 Spieth, who won his third major title at last month's British Open, struggled with his putter in firing a 72, joining McIlroy five strokes adrift.

Spieth, who also won the 2015 Masters and US Open, can become only the sixth man to sweep the four current major titles in a career after Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen.

Fourth-ranked McIlroy, 28, could become only the third player to win five majors before turning 30, joining Nicklaus and Woods. He has two PGA titles and two US PGA triumphs at Quail Hollow.

England's Paul Casey and 10th-ranked American Rickie Fowler, whose first career PGA triumph was at Quail Hollow, were among seven on 69, Fowler thanks to six birdies that helped offset a triple bogey seven at the fifth hole.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson was in a pack on 70 that included Australia's Jason Day, Spain's Jon Rahm and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama. Johnson said putting was as tough as he has seen all season.

Olesen, 27, seeks his first major title. The 78th-ranked Dane took the most recent of four career European Tour victories last year in Turkey. Spieth was in the early feature group with Koepka and the year's other major winner, Spain's Sergio Garcia, the Masters champion.

Dutchman Joost Luiten aced the 181-yard par-3 fourth hole with a 6-iron, the first hole-in-one at a PGA since South Africa's Tim Clark in 2013. Two players withdrew with injuries after poor first rounds, England's Andrew "Beef" Johnston after a 78 with a shoulder issue and South Korean Kim Si-Woo after shooting 79, citing a sore back.

Day, who had four bogeys in the first 12 holes, rallied with two birdies and an eagle in the last five to finish on 70. Rahm, 22, sank 17-foot putts for birdie at the 14th and par-5 15th to reach 3-under, one off the lead, but stumbled back to 70 with bogeys at 16 and the par-3 17th in his PGA Championship debut. Among those in a struggle to make the cut are defending champion Jimmy Walker, 100th-major starters Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els and England's Justin Rose. — AFP