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Loving his start

Davis Love III was quite happy with his opening 68 – then he saw Steve Stricker's score. Even so, Love liked the way he hit the ball, and how he escaped from the little trouble he found on the difficult course.

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Davis Love III was pleased to have hit enough fairways, he says, "to keep myself in the game." (Getty Images)

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. PGATOUR.COM) -- It was a good news, bad news kind of day for Davis Love III.

The U.S. Ryder Cup captain was pleased by the 68 he shot in the first round of the PGA Championship on Thursday. That is, until he looked at the leaderboard and saw that Steve Stricker was five strokes ahead after matching the major championship record of 63.

"I hit the ball really well today," Love said. "I got in a few bunkers and got in a little bit of trouble a couple times, but all in all, it was a good, solid day.  Any time you’re under par in a major, it seems pretty good, until you look at Stricker, then it feels like the John Deere again. I played pretty good, but I’m way behind Stricker.
   
"It was a good start, and the course is in great shape.  As long as you’re in the fairway and on the greens, you know you’re going to have perfect lies and a chance to make birdies. As soon as you get off the fairways, it’s going to get tough. I hit enough fairways today to keep myself in the game."

For the record, Stricker has won the last three John Deere Classics and shot a 60 on the way to his 2010 victory. Love, who tied for 12th behind Stricker at TPC Deere Run this year, has played well in the majors this year, tying for ninth at the British Open and 11th at the U.S. Open.

Love felt like the Atlanta Athletic Club was set up well for the first round.

"I think it’s tough," Love said. "Obviously it’s fair. Stricker is 7 under, so it’s doable. I played pretty well and got 2 under, so it’s fair. It’s just hard. You know, we’re used to that. They set it up pretty good today. They gave us a break on a few holes, didn’t play them all the way back.
   
"I think all in all players are saying they’ve never seen this good of greens in a major, never seen this good of fairways in a major, so it’s a great course, it’s just tough."