Jason Day ties course record with first-round 63 at The Players Championship
Jason Day torched playing partner Jordan Spieth by nine strokes on Thursday at TPC Sawgrass. His reward is an early lead and leg up in Jacksonville, Florida.
Jason Day might have provided us a little bit of foreshadowing earlier in the week.
"What is it, May?" Day posed when asked if he was surprised that he, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler haven't won more. "You know, things can change pretty quickly. I was talking earlier this year about the process and trying to get better each and every week and everyone was asking me why I haven't won yet. And then I won two tournaments in a row. And then that was the end of that."
Day put another exclamation point on the board on Thursday at The Players Championship with a 63 in the first round. He slid into a five-way tie for the course record. Here's a look at the five golfers that have accomplished this feat.
Fred Couples (1992, R3)
Greg Norman (1994, R1)
Roberto Castro (2013, R1)
Martin Kaymer (2014, R1)
Jason Day (2016, R1)
Kaymer and Norman went on to win. Couples and Castro didn't crack the top 10.
Day made nine birdies (no bogeys), hit 15 greens and averaged 319 yards off the tee. He said he was thinking about the course record.
"Once I got to No. 7 (Day started on the back nine) then I started thinking about the course record. Birdieing No. 7, then I'm like, 'okay, I think I can birdie Nos. 8 and 9 and that'll kind of clip the course record. It would be nice to shoot 10 under.'"
His birdie at No. 8 lipped out, but then this is how his round finished up on the par-5 ninth hole.
-- PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 12, 2016
"Shooting 63 was great today," Day said after his round. "There's a lot of guys at 7 under par right now and a lot of guys that are going off the afternoon tee time that can definitely shoot that score as well."
It's true that scoring was easy early on but that doesn't take away from what Day accomplished.
Sawgrass is playing to 69.5 (-2.5) so far. #onpace to obliterate the lowest 1st/2nd rd score in the last 20 years (71.1)
-- Jake Nichols (@jalnichols) May 12, 2016
Day's previous best score at this course was a 68, and he hasn't had a particular amount of success here over the years. Day shot 81 in the second round to miss the cut in 2015. He was a full stroke per hole better this time around. That's golf.
"I haven't had the greatest finishes here at The Players Championship," said Day earlier in the week. "I feel a lot more prepared this year than I ever have in my career coming into this event. So I'm hoping that is a little bit of a different result this year."
He got it on Thursday ... so far. Day also called it one of his all time best rounds.
"I can't really recall the way that I hit the ball as well as I did today and then also putting as well as I did," said Day, who was top five in strokes gained putting and strokes gained tee to green when he finished up. "I've shot scores lower, but I think from tee to green and then on the green and then being patient. Everything kind of just clicked today and I shot a good score.
"You just never know until it happens. ... The way I was feeling and the way I was playing, I knew that I could shoot a good score, especially with how the greens were so receptive today. They were really nice, holding on a lot of shots."
So now Day will try to hold off one of the strongest fields in golf. In the last 10 years, only Martin Kaymer in 2014 and Sergio Garcia in 2008 have held the outright lead and gone on to win. There's recent precedent for Day, but there's also a host of elite players -- including Justin Rose, Shane Lowry and Bill Haas -- coming for him -(and that's just from the morning wave).
Day knows what's at stake.
Jason Day. At his best.
Highlights of his course record-tying 63. https://t.co/4j0kHZLe7q
-- PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 12, 2016
"It's a golf tournament that you really do want to win and have it on your resume at the end of your career because it's such a huge event," he said earlier in the week. "This is one of those tournaments where, if you're on the border of getting into the Hall of Fame, this could kick it over and get you into the Hall of Fame."
Day will have his work cut out for him, but if day one is any indication, the world's best golfer is ready for his first Players Championship.
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