DeChambeau enjoys clubhouse lead at PGA Championship

·3-min read

The LIV Golf breakaways continue to defy the doubters with Bryson DeChambeau capturing the clubhouse lead and fellow heavyweight Dustin Johnson on his tail at the weather-marred US PGA Championship in New York.

After missing last year's event following hand surgery, DeChambeau quickly made up for lost time with a four-under-par 66 at the notoriously difficult Oak Hill Country Club.

He had five birdies and just one bogey - after hitting fellow Kenny Pigman with a wild approach on the 17th - to earn a one-stroke buffer over Johnson, world No.2 Scottie Scheffler and Canadian Corey Connors.

"It's a fantastic round of golf at Oak Hill. It's a prestigious place. Very difficult golf course," DeChambeau said.

"As I was looking at it throughout the week, I'm like, man, I don't know how shooting under par is even possible out here on some of the golf holes.

"But, luckily, I was able to play some really good golf, hit a lot of fairways, did my job and made some putts."

After joining LIV Golf, which offers no rankings points, the 2020 US Open champion tumbled to No.215 in the world.

But with joint runner-up finishes at last year's Masters, DeChambeau's rebel cohorts Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson made a mockery of the rankings as the LIV stars chase a first major trophy since the formation of the Saudi-backed league.

DeChambeau trails only fellow American Eric Cole, who still has four holes to play in his first round after darkness forced the suspension of play on Thursday night.

Fresh off winning LIV Golf Tulsa on Sunday, Johnson's only bogey came under fading light at the last.

"I kind of grinded it out," he said.

"I didn't have my best stuff, but I felt like he managed the golf course very well and took advantage of the opportunities when I had it.

"Made some crucial saves there on the back side. Yeah, it was a good day. I hit a really nice putt on 18 that didn't go in, but very pleased with how I played and the score I shot."

Scheffler was also chuffed with his 67, his first bogey-free round at a major.

"There's lots of tough holes out there and not really many birdie opportunities out there. This place is pretty tough," he said.

New Zealander Ryan Fox is equal fourth with Scott, Keegan Bradley and Norway's Viktor Hovland.

British Open champion Cameron Smith ground out a 72, the same score as Koepka and one better than fellow Australian Min Woo Lee.

Jason Day could only manage a six-over 76 in his first round since breaking a five-year PGA Tour title drought on Sunday in Texas.

Chasing the third leg of the grand slam, world No.1 and newly crowned Masters champion Jon Rahm also disappointed with a 76 but was remaining optimistic.

"Couldn't find the fairway and the fairways that I missed cost me bogeys," said the Spanish world No.1.

"The only thing I can look back on myself is the three short putts I missed on the back nine.

"I'm between three to five feet, if I make those putts, I shoot three over which is not the worst-case scenario.

"If I can somehow manage to putt a low one tomorrow and find myself close to even par going into Sunday, I think I'll have a decent chance."