ST. LOUIS -- The PGA brought the drama on Day 1. There was Rickie Fowler, getting off to a good start as he tries to capture that elusive first major. There were Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas playing before a packed house. But when the day closed, it was Gary Woodland who sat at the top of the leaderboard.
What does all this mean for Round 2?
About Gary Woodland and trying too hard
Gary Woodland slipped past Rickie Fowler late in the day Thursday to take the lead after the first round of the PGA Championship. Not completely familiar with Woodland's body of work? He does have three PGA Tour victories, including this year's Waste Management Open, beating Chez Reavie in a playoff.
As for his major championship record ... well, there's not as much to work from. This is Woodland's 28th appearance in a major. He's never finished in the top 10. This year, he missed the cut at the Masters, began the U.S. Open by shooting 79 and shot four rounds in the 70s, and was a non-factor at The Open.
"I think a lot of it is pressing," Woodland said. "I've set my schedule the last couple years to gear up for the Majors. This year I thought going in the golf courses suited me as well as any year lately and I just still got nothing. I don't even have a top-10 [in my career], and 12th is the best I've ever finished, which is frustrating because I feel like where I am and where I should be is not results that I have had."
So will that change this weekend?
"I just probably pressed a little bit too much," he said. "But I'll learn from that."
Tiger's major starting issue
Tiger Woods opened with bogey, then double-bogey to begin his PGA Championship. He settled down from there and got himself around Bellerive in even-par 70. That is probably what everyone should have expected when the day started.
Woods' even-par round means that he failed to break par in the first round in any of this season's four majors. At the Masters, he opened with 1-over 73 and was never a factor. At the U.S. Open, he started with 8-over and missed the cut. At The Open, he began the same way he did this PGA Championship, with an even-par round. For Woods, it's nine consecutive majors in which he has failed to break par in his first round.
But, like he did at The Open and like he failed to do at the Masters and U.S. Open, he played well enough Thursday to keep him in the conversation. He is five behind leader Rickie Fowler heading into his afternoon tee time in the second round.
"It kept me in the golf tournament," he said. "I could have easily gone the other way, being 3 over through two."
So now it's on to Round 2, when Woods will have some ground to make up. At The Open, he duplicated his even-par first round in the second round, forcing him to make up serious ground on Saturday at Carnoustie. He did, shooting 66. Perhaps he'll take a more aggressive approach on Friday at Bellerive?
Don't count on it.
"This is a long run," he said. "These are marathons. These are four long days."
About those greens
The players hinted that the putting surfaces at Bellerive Country Club could be a problem. After all, they got this warning earlier this week:
"Due to expected high temperatures and high humidity over the next couple of days, greens speeds will remain slower than they are planned for the Championship Rounds." -- PGA of America Rules Committee
On Thursday, they were faster. But they weren't necessarily smoother. And don't expect them to get better.
"They're bumpy, for sure," Woods said. "They're quicker than they were on the practice rounds. They were saving them. But they're still on the slower side than what we normally play week in and week out. The shorter putts are a little more interesting because they're a little chewed up."
The groups going off early Friday have a chance to attack putts. The groups in the afternoon are looking to survive.
"You definitely want to post a number on the fresh greens," Ian Poulter said after his 3-under 67. "There's more grass on them, which is definitely going to scuff up in the afternoon. So the morning wave definitely has the advantage on the greens."
Rickie Fowler, who is a shot off the lead after opening with 5-under 65, played in the morning Thursday. He expects a different putting experience with his Friday afternoon tee time.
"The greens I'm sure will start to get a little beat up as it's soft out there and it's something that we'll deal with [Friday]," he said.
When the key players hit the course
For the full list of scores and tee times, click here.
Double the pressure
The PGA of America did not do Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele any favors this week. The pressure is intense given this is the year's final major. But Finau and Schauffele had added pressure Thursday, and will have it again Friday. They are grouped wtih U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk. And neither Finau nor Schauffele is in the top eight in the points, meaning if nothing changes in the standings, both will only get on the team if chosen as captain's picks by Furyk.
"I didn't ask for the pairing, it was something that happened," Furyk said after Thursday's opening round.
Finau, currently 13th on the points list, limped to an opening-round 74 and is in a tie for 120th. Schauffele fared a bit better, starting with even-par 70.
"I always put a lot of pressure on myself when I was playing with the captain in a Ryder Cup and I did in 2016 with Davis [Love]. They got off to tough starts this morning. They scrapped it out, to be honest with you. They're tough players."
Finau and Schauffele get to try and make another good impression in the second round.