Bendigo golfer Lucas Herbert set the foundation for his best performance in a major when he fired a fine two-under par 68 in round one of the PGA Championship.
On a tough day for scoring at Southern Hills Country Club in Oklahoma, Herbert produced the equal second-best round of the afternoon group to be just three shots behind leader Rory McIlroy in a tie for seventh at the completion of round one.
Herbert looked a strong chance to join McIlroy at five-under par when he made his way to four-under par through his first 14 holes.
However, two bogeys in his final four holes took the gloss off arguably his best round at a major.
"This place is not easy," Herbert said.
"Obviously it can get pretty squirrelly out there with the wind (but) I feel kind of comfortable here. This reminds me of some golf back home on the sandbelt, Peninsula Kingswood for the guys in Australia listening.
"It has that very similar feel about it with the run-offs around the greens and just the bunkering, how open a lot of the golf course is.
"You've got fairways that kind of blend into other fairways and bunkers that come into play on multiple holes."
Herbert started his opening round in perfect style by making a birdie on the par-four 10th hole.
The 26-year-old missed birdie putts on the 11th and 12th holes before roaring up the leaderboard with back-to-back birdies on the par-five 13th and par-three 14th holes.
He made birdie on the 14th after holing a monster 15 metre putt.
A wayward tee shot on the 15th cost Herbert a bogey before he made three-straight bogeys to make the turn at two-under par.
A birdie on the par-four first hole was offset by a bogey on the second hole after his drive found the water down the left-hand side.
A brilliant chip-in for birdie on the third hole and a fine putt on the fifth hole lifted Herbert to four-under par and within one shot of leader McIlroy, who had the advantage of playing in the morning.
Herbert's tee shot on the par-three sixth hole went over the back of the green and the Neangar Park product couldn't get up and down to save his par.
He made two solid pars on the seventh and eighth holes before Herbert's worst drive of the day cost him a bogey on the ninth hole.
Herbert's two-under par 68 was one of only 26 sub-par rounds on day one.
With six birdies in his opening round, Herbert proved the course suits his game.
His putting and chipping is elite, how well he drives the ball will determine how long he stays at the pointy end of the leaderboard.
"I've played enough of these major championships now where I feel like I know what it is that I need to do to play well,'' Herbert said.
"I haven't been able to play the way I would have liked in the majors I've played so far, but feel like I've got more of an understanding of what I need to do to have a chance to compete on Sunday."
Conditions are expected to be tougher on day two, with stronger winds forecast.
"Obviously I played a lot of golf in the wind growing up, and then I've come through the European Tour, the DP World Tour now, so we just play in a lot of wind over there," Herbert said.
"I've probably developed a game where I feel quite comfortable when it gets windy. I can move the ball flight around as I need to and take spin out of it fairly comfortably.
"I don't mind it when the wind gets up like this."
Leaderbard after round one:
Rory McIlroy -5
Will Zalatoris -4
Tom Hoge -4
Matt Kuchar -3
Abraham Ancer -3
Justin Thomas -3
Chris Kirk -2
Mito Pereira -2
Xander Schauffele -2
Cameron Smith -2
Kevin Na -2
Davis Riley -2
Matt Fitzpatrick -2
Lucas Herbert -2
Joaquin Niemann -2
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