Jason Day has returned to the majors’ spotlight with a 5-under 65 to be tied for the lead with Brendon Todd after the opening day of the US PGA Championships, the first major to be played in 2020.
Day took advantage of an accommodating TPC Harding Park course in San Francisco to finish his bogey-free round with an approach to 6 feet for birdie on No. 9, the toughest hole on the course at 518 yards.
That gave him a share of the lead with Brendon Todd, whose round was equally impressive.
Playing in the afternoon, as the wind strengthened, Todd made seven birdies and finished with a 10-foot par putt.
They are a shot ahead of a group that includes former World Number One players Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose.
Speaking after his round Day was happy to get the tournament off to a solid start following on from three top-ten finishes in the past three tournaments.
“It was good. I got off to a great start,” Day explained.
“Got a little bit lucky between the bunkers on 10, but got to take the luck when it comes by.
“Today I drove it really nicely, and when I was out of position, I left myself on the right side of the fairways to be able to at least get somewhere around the greens, and if I did miss the greens I left it in the right spot.”
Day has battled chronic back pain for most of his career and the change in temperatures between the tournament last week and this week has meant he has had to find other ways to keep his back warm while playing.
“It has been cool, you’ve got to be careful,” Day said.
“It is a lot colder; 50 degrees pretty much to be precise from last week. So it was nice to play in the hot weather last week and then this week you’re always cautious of doing certain things, bending over.
“But I pretty much lather up in Deep Heat and I go, I mean, I try and burn the skin off my back, to be honest. And I feel pretty good, so I’ve been fine.”
Fellow back pain sufferer Tiger Woods ran off three birdies in a four-hole stretch toward the end of his round that offset a few mistakes.
He opened with a 68, a solid start for a 15-time major champion who has played just one tournament in the last six months.
Kiwi Danny Lee is the only local hope in the field and did a serviceable job today finishing up tied for 33rd on 1-under.