South Africas golfers, with Ernie Els at the forefront, will be hoping for another Chinese take-away in the BMW Masters. Photo: Jeff Gross

Johannesburg – It was a slow start for the South Africans on day one of the US PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on Thursday as the top-placed players could only manage a tie for 35th.

Tim Clark, Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen and Richard Sterne all shot an opening one under par 70, five strokes behind leaders Lee Westwood of England, Americans Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer on six under 65.

Oosthuizen, who won a long-driving contest at the course during the practice rounds, made five birdies on the day but offset them with four bogies as he failed to break 70.

Clark, meanwhile, had three birdies and an eagle on the par five 18th but also had to settle for a one under score after two bogies and a double.

Els and Sterne were more consistent in their play, each making three birdies against two bogies and 13 pars in between.

Charl Schwartzel was unable to get his game going and could only manage one birdie on the day, on his way to a one over 72. Schwartzel will have some work to do on Friday to make the cut and improve his current position of tied-79th.

George Coetzee and Branden Grace both shot two over 73s for a share of 93rd on the leaderboard.

Rory Sabbatini shot 40 on the back nine as he battled his way to four over 75, and 126th spot after the first day.

Club professional Johan Kok, who was born in South Africa but now lives in America, started his day by holing a 97 foot putt from off the green on his first hole for eagle. It was all downhill from there though as Kok battled his way to 78, and a share of 138th. – Sapa