Steve Stricker equalled the lowest round in a major to take control of the PGA Championship on Thursday while fellow American Tiger Woods spectacularly self-destructed after making a red-hot start.
The 44-year-old Stricker, who has yet to win one of golf's grand slam events, fired a flawless seven-under-par 63 on a sweltering day at Atlanta Athletic Club to grab a two-shot lead.
American hopes of a first major victory since Phil Mickelson won last year's Masters were given a further lift with Jerry Kelly next best after carding a six-birdie 65, ahead of compatriots Shaun Micheel (66) and Scott Verplank (67).
Former world number one Woods, however, posted his worst ever opening round in a major as he imploded on the way to a 77 after making three birdies in his first five holes.
“I'm not down, I’m really angry right now so there’s a lot of words I could use,” said Woods after recording three double-bogeys and ending up in 12 bunkers.
Stricker birdied five of his first nine holes and picked up two more shots after the turn to become the 23rd player to shoot a 63 in a major. The world number five came close to an eighth birdie of the day at the par-four ninth, his final hole, and a first-ever 62 in a major.
Perhaps the bravest round of the day came from Rory McIlroy, who carded a level-par 70 despite playing the last 15 holes with an injured right wrist.
Atwal misses cut
Arjun Atwal missed yet another Major cut as his second card of 73 was not enough to get him past the halfway mark at the Championships, the last Major of the season. Atwal had three birdies and six bogeys in a card that gave him a total of 151.