Former world number one Jason Day was very happy with his first round at the US PGA Championship as he closed proceedings within touching distance of the lead.
Arguably one of the most talented players striding down fairways, 2015 champion Day has not always lived up to expectations due to injuries and the health of his mother, which have hindered his progress on the course.
But Day – who secured a top-10 position at last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational – snapped back into form on the PGA Tour this year, winning both the Farmers Insurance Open and the Wells Fargo Championship, while also finishing runner-up at Pebble Beach.
And on Thursday, the Australian star carded a three-under-par 67 to be just two shots behind leader Rickie Fowler at the time.
"It was good. I think I hit 12 fairways and 17 greens. It was nice," Day said. "I definitely gave myself a fair share of birdie opportunities out there but didn't quite capitalise on the front side.
"Being able to come back with birdies on seven and eight after I bogeyed on six, even though I hit — I hit a great shot into the par three, just straight over the green. Hit a five iron from 221. I wasn't thinking that was going to go that far. But, fortunately, I'd much rather be in the back bunker than in the water. Overall, I'm very happy with how things progressed out there."
Day had four birdies and one bogey on this scorecard to start the season's final major, and he believes the course at Bellerive Country Club could yield low scores this week.
"There's nothing really tricky about this golf course," Day said. "It just can be brutally long. How do I explain it? There can be two different people can walk off in the same group thinking it's the hardest golf course in the world only because you may be on the wrong side of hitting it in the rough here or there because the rough is pretty thick, and a guy that's flushed it all day long thinking it's a really relatively easy golf course.
"If you can ball strike your way around this golf course, you'll walk off thinking it's pretty simple. If you struggle a little bit off the tee, then it obviously makes it harder."
While golf is Day's focus, a tragedy away from the course is on his mind, and almost everyone on Tour's this week.
Former PGA Tour professional Jarrod Lyle lost his ongoing battle with cancer on Wednesday, and Day was devastated to learn of his fellow countryman's death.
"I received a text about Jarrod, and I just was — it's hard because you sit there and you know him and he's a buddy of yours, and he's not there anymore," Day said. "He's never going to come back. That's the hardest thing to sort of come by.
"I lived across the street from him when we first started out in Orlando. He's a good buddy of mine. It's obviously heartbreaking to see. I've known Jarrod for a long time, and obviously my thoughts and prayers go out to Bri and the two kids. It's just — they're going through some stuff right now. It's obviously — it's hard to hear that information when it comes through any time."
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