07 Oct 2022 | Professional golf |
Day's strong start in Vegas
by Australian Golf Media
By Tony Webeck
Jason Day’s search for early-season momentum has begun well with a five-under 66 on day one of the PGA TOUR’s Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas.
Making just his second start since the FedEx St Jude Championship in August, Day went bogey-free in Round 1 at TPC Summerlin to sit in a tie for 10th and three shots back of front-runner Tom Hoge (63).
Beginning the championship from the 10th tee, Day kick-started his round by ripping an approach shot out of the rough from 275 yards to 23 feet at the par-5 12th, draining the putt for eagle and an early shot of confidence.
He got up-and-down for birdie at the par-5 16th, converted from nine feet at the par-4 sixth and rounded out a strong day on the three-shotters with a two-putt birdie from 33 feet at the par-5 ninth.
The 34-year-old is without a top-10 finish since a tie for third at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in February. He knows he needs a strong start to the wrap-around season to play in the PGA TOUR’s big events in 2023.
“I’m trying to get some good momentum going into next season,” Day said.
“Trying to find out where the game is, not only if I’m off the tee all the way through to the green.
“I feel like these last two years have been kind of a mixture of really good stuff and really bad stuff and just trying to connect the dots.
“I feel like that things are slowly moving in the direction that I want them to.
“I’m just trying to get a little bit of momentum going to next year. I’m trying to think about this week and then CJ CUP and then three after that and probably QBE Shootout.
“I’ve got a lot coming up.”
Day wasn’t the only Australian to make an impact on the leaderboard in Round 1.
Victorian Lucas Herbert made five birdies in six holes on the back nine to draw to within one of the lead before hitting two balls in the water on his way to a disastrous triple bogey at the par-5 16th.
That saw Herbert (67) drop down to a tie for 13th, level with fellow Aussie Harrison Endycott who had five birdies and a lone bogey in his round of four-under.
Min Woo Lee has put himself in position to contend too at the DP World Tour’s Open de Espana.
Paired with crowd favourite Jon Rahm, Lee made the turn in one-over at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid but caught fire on his back nine.
A putt from just inside 24 feet delivered a birdie at the par-4 second, he chipped in for birdie at the par-3 third and got up-and-down for birdie at the par-5 fourth.
He did the same from the front of the green at the par-5 seventh and converted a birdie chance from seven feet at the par-4 eighth for an inward nine of five-under and four-under 67 total.
That puts Lee in a tie for 14th four strokes off the lead, Queenslander Maverick Antcliff the next best Australian with a two-under 69.
With seven LPGA Tour cards up for grabs it was Gabriela Ruffels who made the best start of the Aussies contesting the Epson Tour Championship in Florida.
In 14th position on the Race to the Card standings, Ruffels picked up four shots in her final six holes on Thursday to post five-under 67 and a share of 11th.
Robyn Choi recovered from an early bogey to shoot four-under 68 to be tied for 24th while Grace Kim had four birdies and two bogeys to be tied for 52nd at two-under 70.
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