Four top crowded first day leaderboard
World number 10 Luke Donald showed off his ball-striking skills to move into a four-way tie for the lead on 67 after the PGA Championship first round at Wentworth on Thursday.
Donald, who was born at nearby High Wycombe but plays much of his golf in the U.S., was joined on five-under-par by fellow Britons Paul Casey and Nick Dougherty and South African Andrew McLardy at a revamped West Course soaked by overnight rain.
Holder Angel Cabrera of Argentina, Ireland's Peter Lawrie, Briton David Howell and Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin shared fifth place on 68.
World number six Ernie Els, who masterminded the changes to the Surrey layout, was among a host of players on 69.
It was Donald though who stole the spotlight as he hit every green in regulation in only his second appearance in the European Tour's flagship event.
"I cannot remember the last time I did that. I might have done it last year sometime but I think that's the first time this year," the 28-year-old Englishman told reporters.
Donald said he was assisted by the preferred-lies ruling brought in for the first two rounds due to the recent heavy rainfall. The third, sixth and 18th holes were also temporarily shortened, with standing water on several greens at the start of the day.
"The pick-and-place rule helped, as did the soft conditions," he said. "It was like target golf today."
The in-form Casey, 28, ended his round with a real flourish, birdying the par-five 17th and eagling the par-five last.
Casey has finished in the top 10 in his previous five tournaments and is a combined 49-under for his last 21 rounds.
"I don't think I've been this consistent in the past," he said. "I've always been a bit up and down."
Dougherty, by contrast, has lost his touch recently.
"When you try harder, you push harder and you don't get anything for it," said the 24-year-old Dougherty after producing a spectacular back nine of five-under 32 containing five birdies.
"I have been trying hard, beating myself up. I have found it very stressful and it feels rewarding to have a day like today."
McLardy enjoyed a slice of good fortune when he overhit his 40-foot birdie putt at the 16th and watched it jump into the air before disappearing into the cup.
"That could have been a two-shot swing if I had rolled it eight feet by, so that was good luck," said the 32-year-old South African journeyman.
Cabrera said Wentworth played much the same as it had when he triumphed 12 months ago.
"It didn't feel very much different because I was hitting the ball well," he said. "I was able to keep out of trouble so that was good."
Els was happy with his remodelled layout after finishing two shots off the lead.
"It was a good test but if you played properly today, you'd shoot under-par," said the South African, who has a house on the Wentworth estate.
"The old course, conditions like these, I think you would have seen a 64. Today was your scoring opportunity."