Kiawah Island, South Carolina – Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama sits six strokes off the lead after carding an opening-round 73 on Thursday at the PGA Championship, with his bid for back-to-back major wins getting off to a slow start.
Canadian Corey Connors navigated his way around Kiawah Island Resort’s Ocean Course in 5-under-par 67 to lead a group of six players that includes former PGA Championship winners Brooks Koepka and Keegan Bradley, both from the United States, by two shots.
American Collin Morikawa, who began his title defense in Matsuyama’s group with U.S. Open winner Bryson DeChambeau, is one shot further back after bogeying his final hole. Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson is also at 2-under.
Matsuyama had three birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey and sits in a tie for 41st.
“I was terrible in my morning practice but thankfully my score didn’t turn out that bad,” Matsuyama said.
“I wish I hadn’t three-putted twice and made mistakes in my approach play, but I didn’t finish too far off the lead. I need to raise my game,” he said.
Matsuyama is playing his second tournament since returning from a one-month break following his win at Augusta last month. The 29-year-old became the first Japanese man to win a major.
The other Japanese players in the field are in danger of missing the cut. Takumi Kanaya is 3-over and in 77th place and Rikuya Hoshino is 4-over and in 97th.
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