CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) – A huge gallery lined the par-five 10th hole from tee to green as Jordan Spieth started his quest for the elusive grand slam at the PGA Championship on Thursday.
Despite the early hour, thousands of spectators, including swimming champion Michael Phelps, had already filed into Quail Hollow by time Spieth arrived at the tee at 8.23 a.m. local time (1223 GMT), a couple of minutes after Sergio Garcia and Brooks Koepka, the three majors champions of 2016 grouped together for the final major of the year.
Koepka politely introduced himself as “Brooks” to the standard bearer and scorer, as if they did not recognize the U.S. Open champion.
The tee was still in shadow, the early-morning sun still trying to peak over the five deciduous trees on the left side of the tee.
Spieth, wearing a green horizontal striped shirt and dark blue trousers, tipped his cap to polite applause after descending the bridge from the practice green.
The group’s tee time was delayed two minutes because the preceding threesome had not played their second shots at the hole, which is reachable in two shots for most players.
Spite was last to drive, and he quickly reached down to pull his tee out of the ground, happy with his opening shot as the gallery applauded warmly.
He subsequently had a tap-in par in a smooth start as he attempts to become the sixth man to complete the career grand slam of all four modern majors and, at 24, to supplant Tiger Woods as the youngest.
Earlier, there was hardly a breath of wind when local North Carolinian Grayson Murray struck the first tee shot at 7:20 a.m. local time (1120 GMT).
The forecast suggests there will be no stoppages during the first round, with only a 20 percent chance of a stray late-afternoon thunderstorm.
Rory McIlroy, a two-time winner at Quail Hollow, and defending champion Jimmy Walker are among those who start in the afternoon half of the draw.
Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Larry King