PGA Championship 2021: Round 1 Leaderboard, Projected Cut, Friday Tee Times

Corey Conners took a surprise first round lead at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, on a day when Phil Mickelson rolled back the years and some of the pre-tournament favorites badly struggled.

Conners posted a 5-under 67 that rewarded a calm and controlled performance. The Canadian, who finished tied for eighth at The Masters last month, admitted the Ocean Course was an extremely demanding environment.

"You can't fall asleep out there on any holes," the 29-year-old told ESPN after his first round. "It's very challenging. I was fortunate to have a good day. Made it the least stressful on myself as possible."

Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson can all vouch for that statement after they endured a day to forget.

McIlroy, the bookmakers' favorite ahead of the tournament, finished 3-over par and now faces an uphill battle to qualify for the weekend—the cut line is currently projected at 2-over—let alone win his second PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, nine years on from when he triumphed on the Ocean Course.

Thomas, the world No. 2, was equally highly thought of by the bookmakers ahead of the tournament but, like McIlroy, he shot an underwhelming 75 on Thursday.

Johnson, the only player above him in the world rankings, fared even worse with a 4-over par 76 that included two double-bogeys.

While the trio struggled, Mickelson looked back to his best. The five-time major winner dropped three shots over his first six holes, before shooting a 32 on the back nine and finishing the day at 2-under par, along with another seven players including defending champion Collin Morikawa.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka is a shot ahead of Mickelson after carding a 3-under 69 on Thursday. The former world No. 1 opened with a double-bogey at the 10th, but swiftly brushed off his disappointing start to card six birdies over the next 17 holes.

While some of his rivals floundered on the Ocean Course, Koepka, who won back-to-back PGA Championship in 2018 and 2019, embraced the challenge.

"I love it when it's difficult," he said, the Associated Press reports. "I think that's why I do so well in the majors. I just know mentally I can grind it out."

Here's all you need to know about the second round on Friday.

PGA Championship Round 1 Leaderboard

  • Corey Conners -5
  • Keegan Bradley, Brooks Koepka, Cameron Davis, Sam Horsfield, Aaron Wise, Viktor Hovland -3
  • Phil Mickelson, Martin Laird, Cameron Tringale, Kevin Streelman, Branden Grace, Gary Woodland, Collin Morikawa, Sungjae Im -2

Round 2 Selected Tee Times (All Times ET)

Tee No. 1

  • 7:55 a.m.—Branden Grace, Adam Hadwin, Rasmus Hojgaard
  • 8:28 a.m.—Ian Poulter, Brian Harman, Sungjae Im
  • 1:03 p.m. —Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Tyrrell Hatton
  • 1:47 p.m.—Lee Westwood, Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele
  • 1:58 p.m.—Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka
  • 2:09 p.m.—Collin Morikawa, Bryson DeChambeau, Hideki Matsuyama

Tee No. 10

  • 7:38 a.m.—Tony Finau, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Corey Conners
  • 7:49 a.m.—Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Padraig Harrington
  • 8 a.m.—Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed
  • 8:11 a.m.—Gary Woodland, Justin Rose, Cameron Smith
  • 8:33 a.m.—Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Will Zalatoris
  • 8:44 a.m.—Dustin Johnson, Shane Lowry, Sergio Garcia
  • 1:42 p.m.—Keegan Bradley, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel

Projected Cut Line

The top 70 players on the leaderboard after 36 holes automatically qualify for the final rounds at the PGA Championship, which follows the same rule as The British Open.

The U.S. Open and the The Masters, meanwhile, are less forgiving with only the top 60 players including ties making the cut at the former and just the top 50 players plus ties progressing to the final two rounds at the latter.

In practical terms, that means this year's 156-player field will be almost halved come the end of the second round on Friday evening.

The cut line is expected to 2-over par, with 76 players currently on track to qualify for the final two rounds. There are a number of high-profile players who could miss out, including Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, the world No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, and Rory McIlroy, who won the PGA Championship when it was last played at Kiawah Island in 2012.

McIlroy and Thomas are both 3-over par, while Johnson is a shot further back.

Corey Conners at the PGA Championship
Corey Conners putts on the 18th green during the first round of the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Resort's Ocean Course on May 20, in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Conners leads the field by two strokes. Stacy Revere/Getty Images