Chaska (USA):A birdie start was hardly the inkling of a bumpy back nine in store and Jeev Milkha Singh found himself lying at tied 69th after beginning his campaign at the 91st PGA Championship with a mundane two-over 74.
Eyeing an encore of his top-10 finish in the PGA Championship last year, Jeev had a rather sedate front nine where birdies on the first and seventh holes more than made up for the stroke he dropped on the fourth.
It was on his way back that Jeev hit a snag. He began his back nine journey with a bogey and dropped two more shots on the 16th and 17th holes, failing so sink a single birdie on this treacherous stretch of the Hazaeltine National Golf Club. The only consolation for Jeev was that South African.
Rorry Sabbatini, whom the Indian needs to outshine to grab the last automatic berth in the Greg Norman-led International team for next month's Presidents Cup, returned a matching 74.
Jeev admitted the fourth and final major of the year assumed more importance for him because he wanted to be the first Indian to make it to the Presidents Cup team.
"One of the reasons this year's PGA Championship assumes even more significance for me is because I am currently 11th on the International team standing for next month's Presidents Cup. A good result would secure a top-10 place and an automatic qualification," Jeev said.
"I have already stated my intense desire to be a part of this great event and experience the biennial team championship our version of the Ryder Cup. Hopefully, I will seal issue and not have to depend on a call from captain Greg Norman," said the affable Indian.
At 7,674 yards, Hazeltine National will have the longest course in history of Major championships and Jeev said it would thoroughly test the long game of every golfer.
"There are three par-five holes in excess of 600 yards, so it does not take a genius to deduce that your long game, especially drives off the tee, needs to be in great shape this week. And obviously, one needs to be prepared to face a few long putts here and there," he added.
World number one Tiger Woods fired a five-under 67 to grab the opening round lead with Padraig Harrington hot on his heels from one shot behind.