Date: July 17, 2015
Author: Bruce Matthews, St Andrews

A Day of mixed emotions

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In a peculiar way, Jason Day's brilliant opening round was tinged with sadness at St Andrews today.

How could he not be elated by an unblemished six-under 66? By having to witness his hero and playing partner Tiger Woods humbled by a 76 around the famed course that the American ace twice tamed to win the Open championship.

"He was my idol growing up, he's why I'm into golf, why I chased the dream of becoming a professional. So it's tough,'' Day said.

"The good thing is I saw him struggle a little bit before and he came back and got to No.1 as well. So, I know he can get back out of this, it's depending how much he wants it.

"It's a little unfortunate to see him struggle like this because, I mean, it's just tough to see your idol struggle. But, even though he's my mate and I grew up with him as my idol, I still have to go out there and compete against him and try to play the best I can.''

Just to compound Tiger's torment, South African Louis Oosthuizen, the runaway victor at St Andrews in 2010, started strongly with a five-under 67 as the third member of the morning trio.

Day's steely concentration was matched by a superb short game that enabled him to salvage par several times in the stiffening wind.

"It was great not to have a blemish on the scorecard. It was a pretty tough day really with that north-north easterly wind whipping across. And around about nine (hole), it felt like it got at least 10 degrees cooler and the ball wasn't going as far, so you had to take that into consideration when picking the shots. Overall, hit the ball good and chipped and putted great,'' the Queenslander said.

"The biggest thing was just get out and I wasn't really thinking about the score. I just wanted to make sure I put a solid one together, playing with Tiger and Louis, the last two winners here of the Open championship, and I knew there were going to be a lot of eyes on me, so I wanted to make sure I played solid out there.''

Day somehow made par after pulling his drive way left at the Road hole and then had to two-putt from down in the Valley of Sin after missing the 18th green with a "fat'' wedge approach.

"Seventeen was a brutal hole today. If you're going to miss, you miss left and having 230 yards out of the rough wasn't too great. I hit a good four-iron just to the left of the green and it was a tough chip and a good up-and-down in the end,'' he said.

"And on 18 I had the perfect number, but just fatted my wedge shot. It wasn't the perfect way to finish, but there were a couple of par saves out there that I really needed and I got them. It was a good start for me, something I need to build on over the next three days and I'm excited to play tomorrow.''

Day is banking on not having to answer questions about the attack of vertigo that literally flattened him at the US Open last month.

"I feel good, I'm not about to fall on my face again. It's good, I'm not worrying about it, I feel healthy and I'm good to go,'' he said.

"I know the process of getting vertigo because the first time I had it was 2010. If it had been the first time I had it at the US Open, I would be kind of scared coming out here wondering if it might come back. But speaking with my docs and being on this anti-viral medicine definitely helps. If it comes, it comes. I can't really control it which is the unfortunate thing.''

Fellow Queenslander John Senden posted an even-par 72 after cancelling out birdies at the fifth and 11th with dropped shots at the 10th and 15th.

Bruce Matthews is a Herald Sun sports writer.