Washington, May 5, 2022 (AFP) – Jason Day of Australia, pursuing his first American PGA title in four years, has released seven under 63 to take the lead after the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship on Thursday.

The 34-year-old Australian has inflicted eight birds against a lone owl to make it to the top of the list of leaders for a single strike over American Joel Damen at TPC Potomac in Avenel in suburban Washington.

“I feel like things are going well,” Day said. “I just have to lower my head and keep going.”

In third place out of 65 were English newcomers Aaron Rai and Calum Taren, who matched the lowest PGA rounds, Frenchman Paul Barjon and Americans Matthew Wolf and Danny McCarthy.

The course is hosting a one-off PGA event for the first time since 2018, as Quail Hollow, Charlotte’s usual venue for Wells Fargo, is hosting this year’s President’s Cup in September.

World No. 127 Day, the winner of the 2015 PGA Championship, is looking for his 12th PGA title in the US and the first since Wells Fargo 2018, staying healthy lately after years of whining problems.

“It’s actually very encouraging,” Day said. “Usually when I’m playing well, people ask me how I have my back. It’s probably not something you always want to talk about.”

“So I did a lot of work. I was very diligent and disciplined in my approach to staying healthy. I feel hiccups from time to time, but for the most part, touching the wood, I was very good.”

Day attributed creative coaching approaches, saying, “At some point you have to get out of the technical aspect and go more creative.”

But he also admits that when it comes to comparing to his seven-year-old major win, “I’m still a long way from being confident about my game.”

The day opened with birds back to back that held the birds from about five feet on the fifth and 10th holes and rolled into 20-foot birds on par-3 12th to capture a share of the lead.

But Deja’s approach to the 13th found a false front and left the green area to set up his lone scarecrow.

Day responded by repelling three birds in a row to take the lead, lowering his approach to three feet on par-4 12th and making a hit, then throwing a bird from 31 feet on par-4 15th and adding 12 – bottom footer on the 16th.

I played good golf, ”Day said.

Domain punched six of the first eight holes, his longest effort being 27 feet on the seventh par-4 with three others of about 11 feet. He took his only bullet at 11 after missing the fairway, but responded with a six-foot bird strike on par-3 17th.

Four-time big winner and reigning champion Rory McIlroy made seven birds against two and a double whip to join the flock at 67.

“In the first week after three weeks of rest, there may be a few mistakes,” McIlroy said. “Seven birds around this place are very good. This is one such course. It doesn’t take much to make a mistake.

“I left a couple there. I’m still very happy with my 67. It could have been 65 or 64, but it’s still a good start.”

Spaniard Sergio Garcia fought off a distance of 161 yards for the Eagle in 15th place, his longest moon in the PGA since 2012 on the Riviera, shooting 67.

But he drew global attention with his angry comment after a one-shot penalty for a lost ball, objecting to what he considered an early start to his three-minute search.

Garcia seemed to have indicated that he plans to drop the PGA Tour for competitor LIV Golf Course, which debuts next month in London.

“I can’t wait to leave this tour,” Garcia said after the penalty. “I can’t wait to get out of here.

“A couple more weeks until I have to deal with you.”

Garcia is reportedly among the players who have asked the PGA for release to attend the London event.

Leaderboard:

63 – Jason’s Day (AUS)

64 – Joel Damen

65 – Matthew Wolf, Danny McCarthy, Aaron Ray (ENG), Colum Taren (ENG), Paul Barjon (FRA)

66 – Lee Kyung Hoon (KOR), Nick Watney, Adam Swenson (CAN), Ricky Fowler, Stuart Zink, Wesley Brian, James Hahn, Mackenzie Hughes (CAN), Dylan Wu

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