Louisville, Kentucky: Unheralded American Brendon Todd moved into an early three-way tie for the lead at the PGA Championship on Thursday while four-times winner Tiger Woods made an erratic start to the opening round.
Woods, watched by huge galleries after teeing off from the 10th in a high-profile grouping with former champions Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington, looked rusty as he bogeyed the 11th and 14th to slip five strokes off the pace.
Having pronounced himself pain-free on Wednesday after suffering a back scare on Sunday, Woods missed the green to the right at the par-three 11th, then chipped 13 feet past the cup before failing to make the par putt coming back.
The American`s tee shot at the par-three 14th sailed way left and again he failed to get up and down for par, but he then picked up an unlikely birdie at the par-four 16th when he holed out from 34 yards in the middle of the fairway.
That left him at one over for the round at Valhalla Golf Club, four behind Todd, Japan`s Hideki Matsuyama and Mikko Ilonen of Finland.
Journeyman Todd, making his first appearance in the year`s final major, mixed four birdies and a lone bogey in his first seven holes before reaching the turn in three-under 32.
He was joined at the top by Matsuyama, who was three under after 10 holes, and Ilonen, who made a sizzling birdie-birdie-birdie start after teeing off at the par-five 10th.
Four-times major winner Ernie Els of South Africa and Frenchman Victor Dubuisson were among a large group knotted at two under.
Most eyes, however, were focused on the Woods-Mickelson-Harrington grouping and the fans were packed six-deep on either side of the fairway as they tried to watch every shot hit by the three players.
Cries of "Come on Phil" and "Let`s go Tiger" repeatedly rang out as the top two drawcards in the game attracted vocal support and officials kept a close eye on spectators with mobile phones, making sure they were all on `silent` and hidden away.
Harrington, PGA champion in 2008, was the best of the three at one under for the day after eight holes while fan favourite Mickelson, who clinched the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol, was two over after recording three bogeys and a birdie.
British Open champion and world number one Rory McIlroy, the pre-tournament favourite who is bidding for a third consecutive victory on the PGA Tour, was among the day`s late starters at Valhalla.
Weather forecasts predicted a chance of isolated showers later on Thursday with scattered thunderstorms likely on Friday and Saturday.