PGA Championship notebook: Burns, Molinari forced to withdraw because of back injuries

Patrick Rada takes the first tee shot of the PGA Championship on Thursday morning on the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C. David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Francesco Molinari and Sam Burns were forced to withdraw Thursday from the PGA Championship.

Molinari, the 2018 British Open champion, cited a back injury in pulling out of the championship. Molinari has fallen to 144th in the world.

He was replaced in the field by first alternate Brandon Hagy, who has been practicing on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island this week.

The 24-year-old Burns came in as one of the hottest players in golf. He won the Valspar Championship three weeks ago, then finished second at the AT&T Byron Nelson last week.

He played his first nine in 5-over par, including a triple bogey and a double bogey, before he pulled out of the tournament.

SEBASTIAN MUNOZ, who started his opening round on the 10th hole, hit his drive on the 18th straight left, immediately pointing that way with his club to warn the gallery. The ball landed in a plastic trash bag set up for spectator garbage.

The fans, after originally bracing for impact, instead raised their arms in celebration of Munoz’s shot. Munoz walked up, collected his ball from the garbage and handed it to a spectator. He took a free drop and went on to make par.

JOHN CATLIN took 74 shots and signed for a 75, courtesy of a one-shot penalty for slow play. Catlin, an American who has won three times on the European Tour since September, received two bad times under the PGA Championship’s policy on pace of play.

His first one came on the 16th hole, his seventh of the round, when he took 1 minutes, 14 seconds to play his second shot from the fairway. That resulted in a warning. Five holes later, Catlin took 1 minutes, 3 seconds to play his second shot from the first cut on No. 3. The second bad time comes with a one-shot penalty. His par became a bogey on that hole.

Under the policy, players are allowed 50 seconds to play a shot when they are first to hit – from the tee, approach, around the green and putting – and the others in the group get 40 seconds.

SOUTH CAROLINA native Patrick Rada found the middle of the fairway with the opening tee shot in the PGA Championship.

It was a gorgeous morning on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island with a little trepidation in the air. The flags along the practice range already were flapping even as the sun was beginning its climb over the Atlantic. The wind is everything at Kiawah Island and it has been strong enough to get everyone’s attention this week. Even the power players have been using long irons, hybrids and even fairway metals into par 4s and par 3s.

Rada is the head PGA professional at MacArthur Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida. He likely was chosen to hit the first tee shot given his South Carolina roots.

BRYSON DECHAMBEAU was headed in the wrong direction early in his round. After two quick birdies, the reigning U.S. Open champion made bogey on four straight holes.

DeChambeau, whose scientific approach to the game has helped fueled his success, spoke of the “laminar flow of the wind” at the seaside layout. And he struggled to manage it during the middle of his opening nine of the year’s second major.

His approach on No. 13 was 40 feet from the hole, leading to a three-putt bogey. He put his tee shot on the next hole, a par 3, into the bunker and could not save par. He drove way left on the 15th and missed a 9-footer for par. On the 16th, DeChambeau’s approach went into a bunker and he could not get up and down, falling to 2-over par. He regrouped with three birdies on the front nine and finished at even-par 72.

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