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Steve Stricker Jumps Out To Two-Shot Lead In 93rd PGA Championship

Steve Sticker fired a sizzling seven-under par 63 to take the early lead in the PGA Championship, the final major golf championship of 2011. Stricker's lead was two shots over fellow America Jerry Kelly.

Wannamaker Trophy for the PGA Championship
Wannamaker Trophy for the PGA Championship

Steve Stricker fired an opening-round score of seven-under-par 63 Thursday to take the early lead at the 93rd annual PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga.. He held at two-shot lead over fellow American golfer Jerry Kelly and three shots better than Shaun Micheel, also from the U.S.

Tiger Woods, playing in his second tournament in as many weeks, started off with guns a blazing, with three birdies in the first five holes on Thursday, but bloomed to a seven- over score of 77 over the final 13 holes, leaving him in jeopardy of making the weekend  cut.

Stricker's opening round included seven birdies and was bogey free. He is the 23rd player to shoot a 63 or better at ta major championship and the 11th player to do it at the PGA Championship. Stricker, 44, is seeking his first major golf championship.

"We'd all love to win a major, and I'm no different," Stricker said after his round on Thursday. "I've probably tried a little less harder the last few years than I did earlier in my career."

Two Kansas City-area pros, Sean Dougherty, the club professional at Milburn Country Club in Overland Park, Kan., and Gary Woodland of Topeka, positioned themselves in the hunt after Thursday's first round.  Woodland was at even-par 70, seven shots back of the leader, and Daugherty, who qualified by finishing in the top 20 at the PGA Professional Championship in June in Hershey, Pa., came in at four-over 74 through the opening 18 holes. Both were ahead of such notables as Woods, Dustin Johnson (75), Vijay Singh (76) and Darren Clarke (78), winner of The Open Championship in July, after the first day of the PGA tournament.

Other notable scores on opening day: Stewart Cink, 69; Rory McIlroy, even-par 70; Phil Mickelson, 71, Lee Westwood, 71. McIlroy injured his wrist on the second hole, but was able to continue play.