Paul Casey led the English challenge at the PGA Championship but insisted he did not have his “best stuff” despite firing a two-under 69 on a day of high scoring at Quail Hollow.
Casey made a good recovery from hooking his opening drive into the trees and dropping a shot at the first hole, getting back to level with a birdie at nine before he picked up three shots on four holes from the 11th.
The 40-year-old stumbled late when he missed a three-foot putt for par at the 17th, but a rock-solid par at the last kept him just two strokes adrift of early pacesetter Thorborn Olesen, and he attributed his good performance to a positive attitude when he was not 100 per cent happy with his long game.
“It was not my best stuff today,” said Casey, who has not won anywhere in the world since claiming the KLM Open title in the Netherlands three years ago. “I struggled with the ball-striking, and the first tee shot of the day was an example of that, hooking it into the trees.
“It was a struggle, but I had a very good attitude. I tried my hardest to manage the strategy and keep the ball below the hole, because I didn’t quite have the control. Two under was a very good score, considering.
“I need to brush up on things, because it needs to be better than that if I want to continue to compete this week. I’m optimistic I can get a whole lot out of this week,” added Casey, who is hoping to turn consistency into a long-awaited victory sooner rather than later.
“I’ve got a really good understanding of what I need to do to play my best golf,” he said. “Work away from the golf course, how to practice, how to train. I’ve got a good understanding and a great relationship with (caddie) Johnny. I think we attack golf courses in the right way.
“The consistently is obviously great, but I would like to turn it into wins. Yeah, we’re trying to figure that one out. Consistent is great, I love it, but winning is what I’m trying to do right now.”
Tommy Fleetwood also impressed as he mixed three birdies with two bogeys in a solid 70, a score he was “very happy” with considering the “brutal” course set-up with soft fairways and firm, fast greens at the Charlotte venue.
“The course is brutal, it really is a tough test,” said the world No 15. “Anything par or beating the course is a great score. In the practice rounds, it’s either playing rock hard and windy or it’s been really wet with the rain and playing miles. So when you get into the tournament, you never know what to expect. I’m just really happy to be off the course at one-under.
“The greens are the toughest test because they are firm. The course is quite long and then the greens are firm and quite slopey. The pins were okay today but sometimes it’s so hard to hit greens. You can hit a good shot and just miss the green, and on top of that, the rough around the green just makes it hard to chip.
“There’s not a let-up, really. You’ve never got one shot where you kind of feel you can go easy for 10 minutes or you have a little rest. It’s just five hours of real tough golf.”