Jason Day battled through ill-timed back soreness to keep himself in contention for the Fedex Cup as the United States PGA Tour playoffs began with the Barclays Championship in Edison, New Jersey, today.
Day, who starts the four-tournament rotation ranked second on the points list, has the best-ever chance for an Australian to win the nine-year-old Fedex Cup with its $US10 million bonus.
The Queenslander, who pulled out of Wednesday's pro-am event because of the tweak to his back, began with a two-under par 68 to be in a tie for 18th through the first round.
He is three shots from the lead, and admitted afterward that he had felt pain in his back during the round. "I'm okay, I'm fine,'' he told reporters. "It was a little tough. I think if I had another day's rest I'd be fine but just coming back today and trying to go at it a little hard with the driver definitely hurt with transition of the swing kind of hurt a bit.
"I had an MRI yesterday and structurally, I'm fitter and stronger than I was last year. So all the work I've been putting in the gym has been paying off.''
The injury is annoying since Day can push for a world No. 1 ranking as well as the $10 million cash bonus over the next five weeks. He is ranked No. 3 behind Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy after his win at the US PGA Championship.
<image="2" align="left" />
Matt Jones (67) was the Australian who shone brightest today, ending the first round just outside the top 10 which is headed by Bubba Watson, Camilo Villegas, Spencer Levin and Tony Finau. John Senden (69) also had a productive day, while Adam Scott and Steven Bowditch (71) and Marc Leishman (74) have work ahead of them tomorrow.
Scott, who began the week ranked 94th on the points list, needs to play well to ensure that he remains in the top 100 to progress into the second playoff event, the Deutsche in Boston next week.
The surprise of the day was the four-over 74 carded by world No. 1 Spieth, the American's worst tournament score in more than three months.
“It was a very off-day,” Spieth said. “A little bit of rust with (my) wedges combined with some poor decision-making and it just came out of nowhere. Normally when I'm running that good, it doesn't turn like that. So it was really a very unique round for this year.”
-5 Bubba Watson, Camilo Villegas, Spencer Levin, Tony Finau
-4 Danny Lee, Jason Dufner, Cameron Tringale, Russell Knox, Paul Casey, Bryce Molder