FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (Radio.com/AP) — Brooks Koepka began his PGA Championship title defense with a record round that left Tiger Woods and everyone else in his wake.
Without making birdie on the par 5s, Koepka still broke the course record Thursday on a rain-softened Bethpage Black with a 7-under 63 that made him the first player to post a 63 in consecutive years at major championships.
"That was one of the best rounds I've played probably as a professional," Koepka said. "This golf course is brutal. If you're not going to drive it, like I said, it tests every asset of your game. You've got to drive the ball straight. It's long, so you've got to hit it far."
Koepka also shot 63 last year at Bellerive in St. Louis on his way to a two-shot victory over Woods. It was the 17th round of 63 in the PGA Championship, and Koepka became the first player to do it twice.
It gave him a four-shot lead over Tommy Fleetwood among the morning starters. Only five others managed to break par.
"This is a crazy day," Koepka said.
It was a wild one for Tiger Woods, coming off his emotional Masters victory for his 15th major championship that raised hopes he still had time and a back strong enough to resume his chase of Jack Nicklaus and his record 18 majors.
He opened with a double bogey when his tee shot just missed the fairway and was buried in deep, wet rough. He added another double bogey from the front bunker on the par-3 17th. He had a pair of three-putts. That erased a strong start to his front nine, which included a 30-foot eagle putt that briefly put him under par, and Woods had to settle for a 72.
He was nine shots behind.