Date: August 14, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Day, Jones in PGA mix

There was a time when Jason Day would have been excited to shoot 68 to open a major championship.

Those days are gone.

Along with Matt Jones, Day leads the Aussie charge at the US PGA Championship after a first round that became progressively harder as winds picked up across Whistling Straits.

The Aussie pair are among eight players tied for third at four under, all chasing the same pair that lit up St Andrews early in The Open Championship before fading.

American Dustin Johnson fired a 66 to lead Swede David Lingmerth (67) by a stroke, but the real pressure on that duo will come on the weekend when the mental game becomes increasingly important.

And for now, Day, who built his fine score on dominating the par-5s, is content to again work his way into contention come Sunday.

Day has had nine top-10 major championship finishes in five short years since his debut at the top level at this course in 2010.

"It's the start of the week,'' said Day, who began on the 10th and made just one bogey for the day, on the par-four sixth, his 15th hole.

"Can't really panic too much. Plenty of golf left. I just kind of hung in there and then once I got my first birdie, that got my game going and I started driving the ball a lot better, hit a lot of good greens and felt like I putted solid.''

The calmness is that of a player who is becoming rapidly used to the major championship routine despite not having saluted.

That has been highlighted even more this season with his US Open charge derailed by his bout of vertigo, then a missed birdie on the 72nd hole at St Andrews that would have put him into a playoff at The Open.

"It's very difficult to try and close on Sunday at a major championship,'' said Day, 27, ranked fifth in the world.

"I think the more opportunities I give myself, sooner or later it's going to happen. I know that.''

Today Day parred his first four holes before birdies at the 14th and 16th. He added an eagle at the second and another birdie at the fifth before his bogey.

"We're humans out there," Day said.

"It's very easy to make poor choices and have bad swings every now and then. We got so blessed with Tiger and Rory and Jordan that winning looks easy.

"And I'm not saying it's difficult for me, but it's something that I'm trying to learn and get better at."

Jones was also happy with his start, which looked particularly promising when he was four under through his first seven holes.

The New South Welshman made a bogey at the 9th, but regained that at the 13th with another birdie.

“Number nine is just a tough hole, especially with the wind off to the left. There's nowhere to miss that green. If you miss it — I just couldn't get up and down,” Jones said of his only blemish.

“(But) any time you start off with a good round, especially in a major championship, it's great.”

John Senden played his customary solid major championship round, firing a 71 to sit tied 24th at one under, the same score as two of the key players in the day’s marquee group, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.

While Open champ Zach Johnson likely played his way out of contention with a 75 in that same group, defending champ McIlroy was impressive in his comeback from his ankle injury, making a bogey on the last to match Spieth, who had an uncharacteristically uneventful round with just two birdies.

The other Aussies have already given themselves a task to get back into the mix.

Geoff Ogilvy couldn’t find a birdie in an opening 74, a score matched by Cameron Smith and Steve Bowditch, who each had four bogeys and two birdies.

Matt’s brother Brett Jones, in his major championship debut, was one under through his first seven holes after starting on the 10th tee.

But the New Jersey-based Sydneysider made bogeys on the 17th and 18th and a double on the fourth before rallying to finish with a meritorious 75.

Adam Scott fired a disappointing 76, marred by two costly holes after a promising start.

The former world No.1 birdied his opening two holes, then gave them back with a double-bogey six on the fourth.

He again fought his way back into red numbers with birdies on the 10th and 11th, but a triple-bogey six on the short 12th after hitting his tee shot into bushes short right stopped Scott in his tracks.

He made bogeys on the 13th and 15th to exacerbate the problem and will need luck from 10 strokes back.

Sadly, Marc Leishman is effectively out of contention after a round of 79 he’d rather forget.

The big Victorian couldn’t find his groove after starting on the 10th and a double on the 18th left him five over in his outward nine.

And while he battled hard with a couple of birdies coming home, a double on the par-3 seventh hole summed up his afternoon.




Mark Hayes
Media Manager – Golf Australia

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