Players battle for PGA Championship as hackers attack

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The headline group of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and holder Justin Thomas launched bids for the PGA Championship at a sunny Bellerive Country Club on Thursday.

This was amid a report that the major had come under attack from a group of hackers.

Woods, the top attraction in spite of not winning a major in over a decade, was trailed by a massive gallery as he began his quest for honour.

Seeking a record-equalling fifth PGA crown, Woods began on the back nine with a bogey at the 10th as did four-time major winner McIlroy.

Thomas, riding the momentum of a confidence-boosting victory at the WGC-Bridgeston Invitational last week, opened his title defence with a par.

While fans were focussed on the battles on the course, PGA of America officials were, according to a Golfweek.com report, fighting off an attack from hackers.

They had hijacked the PGA computers and were seeking a ransom.

The PGA of America, which operates the PGA Championship, has however declined to comment on Wednesday’s report.

The Golfweek.com story said hackers had cracked the PGA of America’s computer servers, locking officials out of crucial files related to the PGA Championship and next month’s Ryder Cup in Paris.

There were no signs the tournament had been compromised as Englishman Ian Poulter bolted into the early lead with three birdies from his opening six holes for a one-shot advantage.

With 98 of the world’s top 100 ranked golfers at Bellerive, spectators have a wealth of viewing options.

American Jordan Spieth will get lots of attention as he bids to complete a “Career Grand Slam’’ with a PGA Championship win.

Another group sure to attract a crowd is the trio made up of this year’s major winners.

Masters champion Patrick Reed, U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka and British Open champion Italian Francesco Molinari were all part of the afternoon wave.