May 20 (UPI) -- Corey Conners of Canada used back-to-back birdies late in the first round to grab a two-shot lead at the 103rd PGA Championship on Thursday at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C.
Conners had birdies on the 15th and 16th holes to finish the opening day at 5-under 67. He sat two strokes ahead of six others, including two-time PGA winner Brooks Koepka.
The 29-year-old Conners has one career win on the PGA Tour, which came in 2019 at the Valero Texas Open. He has had four top-10 finishes in his past eight tournaments entering this year's PGA Championship.
Conners is competing in his third straight PGA Championship. He missed the cut last year at TPC Harding Park and finished 64th in 2019.
Koepka got off to a strong start in his quest for a third PGA Championship title. He shrugged off a double bogey on his first hole to finish at 3-under 69. He carded six birdies and a bogey on hole No. 15 in his opening round.
The four-time major champion won the PGA Championship in 2018 and 2019. He was in contention in the final round last year, but he dropped from fourth to 29th after closing with a 74.
Reigning champion Collin Morikawa and Phil Mickelson were among the eight-man group tied for eighth at 2-under par after the first day. Mickelson, who won the event in 2005, sandwiched six birdies between four bogeys, while Morikawa carded five birdies and three bogeys.
Elsewhere on the leaderboard, top-ranked Dustin Johnson made two double bogeys in his opening round of 4-over 76 on Thursday to sit in a tie for 97th. Justin Thomas could jump over Johnson in the world rankings with a win, but he opened with a 75.
Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose and Jon Rahm ended the day at even par and tied for 31st. Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama, who had a historic victory at the Masters last month, both opened with a 1-over 73.
The second round of the PGA Championship is set to begin Friday at 7 a.m. EDT.