Thursday, July 28, 2016

Jason Day finally gets off to a good start in a major with 68 at the PGA


SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — For the first time in 2016, Jason Day has started a major in the 60s.

The defending PGA champion, who didn’t see Baltusrol’s host Lower Course for the first time until Wednesday, opened with a smooth 2-under 68 that has him in contention on Day 1.

“I’m very excited about how I hit it today,” he said. “I hit a lot of good quality shots. Hasn’t been like that lately. To be able to go out there and hit it exactly where I’m [aiming] and see the shot and what I need to do and actually execute it was exciting for me. Really positive stuff going into the next three rounds.”

Day hit 17 greens in regulation, only converting on three of those opportunities. However, as conditions toughened in the afternoon heat, Day’s round looked better and better. The Aussie probably didn’t anticipate the good score, given both his recent major starts and the start of this week.

He opened the Masters in April with 72-73. He started the U.S. Open with a 76 that was the difference between him winning and losing. He kicked off the British Open with 73. Perhaps chalk that up to the stress Day has talked about so much this season, as he did again on Wednesday.

“There’s a little bit of expectation on my shoulders,” Day said. “You’ve got to come out and fire on all cylinders and get yourself up the leaderboard and show people that you’re there and ready to win. I think if you try a little bit too hard sometimes, you can kind of shoot yourself in the foot.”

Then there’s the matter of his family’s medical problems. His children, Dash and Lucy, were sick heading into the week. They got Day sick. His wife, Ellie, had an allergic reaction on Tuesday night during the PGA of America’s champions dinner in Day’s honor, forcing the couple to the hospital and a 2 a.m. discharge. Day intentionally took Monday off. Tuesday was spent tending to his kids, then wife. Wednesday was his only chance to see Baltusrol, getting in 18 holes despite visible exhaustion.

As it turns out, Day views it all as a positive.

“It was kind of a blessing really to come out yesterday, play 18 holes real quick and then get out of here,” he said.

All will be forgotten if this good start leads to a successful defense of his first major title.

He said, “I’ve always said that winning takes care of everything.”

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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