(Reuters) - Reigning Masters champions do not have a great track record at recent editions of the PGA Championship and Scottie Scheffler has work to do if he plans to flip that script after a shaky opening round at Southern Hills on Thursday.
None of the last five reigning Masters winners have finished among the top 20 at the PGA Championship, the longest such streak in history, and world number one Scheffler could soon join that group.
Scheffler, who went out in the afternoon when a stiffer breeze and drier course made for tougher scoring conditions, shot a one-over-par 71 that left him in a share of 38th place and six shots back of leader Rory McIlroy.
"It's early in the week; still a lot of golf left to play. I guess I'm six back now, so six shots over three days really isn't that big of a deal," said Scheffler.
"This is one of those golf courses where you could have a really great round, and so for me just kind of taking what the weather is going to give us tomorrow morning and kind of go from there."
Scheffler's performance was especially surprising not only given his recent form but because Southern Hills, where he won the 2015 Big 12 Championship while at the University of Texas, is his favorite course.
The 25-year-old American began the day with four pars and then made eagle at the 665-yard fifth hole.
He dropped a shot at the ninth but responded with an eight-foot birdie at the 10th before an erratic driver led to consecutive bogeys at the 12th and 13th holes.
Scheffler managed a birdie at the 15th before carding two consecutive bogeys.
"I'm still pretty frustrated with how I played the back nine, but overall one-over par playing as poorly as I did today is not -- I didn't shoot myself out of the tournament, so I'm still in okay position," said Scheffler.
Among recent Masters champions, Tiger Woods, Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia all missed the cut at the following PGA Championship while Hideki Matsuyama finished 23rd in 2021.
Dustin Johnson, who won the November 2020 Masters, was not the reigning Masters champion when he showed up at the following year's PGA Championship but still missed the cut.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Peter Rutherford)