PGA Whistling Straits is a bit mild for most
Despite low scores from some players, Tiger Woods and John Daly were in danger of missing the cut.
HAVEN, Wis. (AP) -- Whistling Straits didn't put up much of a fight against the world's best players.
Fact is, it welcomed them with a flock of birdies.
An opening round brimming with anticipation brought some real surprises -- not the players atop the leaderboard, but the scores next to their names.
Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Justin Leonard and a long list of others hammered the links-style course on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Leader has 65
Clarke, from Northern Ireland, led the way with a 7-under 65. Els and Leonard shot 66s, and Vijay Singh, a four-time winner this year and the tour's leading money winner, was in a four-player group at 67.
Masters champion Phil Mickelson was poised to make a run at another major win with an opening 69. He finished second in the U.S. Open and third in the British Open, putting him in position to become the first player to finish in the top three in all four majors in one year.
"Without wind, all that trouble -- all those bunkers you see -- aren't really in play for us," Mickelson said. "The course played very susceptible to low scores, to birdies."
"I think they kind of went a little too easy," Singh said of the accommodating pin placements and shorter tees. "I think it's going to get tougher from here in."
That could be bad news for Tiger Woods, who shot a 75 and John Daly, whose 81 was his worst score of the year. Both were in danger of missing the cut.
Woods has made a record 127 consecutive cuts, and has never had the weekend off in a major since turning pro.
Clarke, Leonard and K.J. Choi, who shot a 68, had one of the early tee times and quickly put to rest the hype that Whistling Straits might be the toughest test ever in a major.
Choi started with five straight birdies, Clarke birdied the first four and Leonard had five birdies on his back nine. Clarke said earlier in the week that the links-style course reminded him of the courses in Ireland and Scotland and he played as though he was on home turf.
He finished with nine birdies and the 65 was the lowest score in relation to par in the first round of a major since Chris DiMarco had a 7-under 65 in the 2001 Masters.
"We got fortunate with the conditions," Clarke said. "The greens were holding. We were able to fire at flags that we were not able to do earlier in the week."
Woods putted miserably and opened the door a little wider for Els' bid to dethrone him as the world's No. 1 player.
Nothing seems to help Woods, who once dominated the majors but is in an 0-for-9 slump. But as he has all year, Woods offered a positive spin.
"You can get it going here, there's no doubt about that," he said. "The greens are soft, the balls are holding and if you're hitting the ball well, you can get the ball in there close."
Daly's chances of making the Ryder Cup team are probably now gone and he knows only a monster second round can save them after a round that included three double bogeys and an 8 on the par-4 18th.
"I've got to play some incredible golf just to make the cut," Daly said. "I've been through worse challenges. Hopefully, I'm up for this one."