Jason Day has overcome back pain to extend his great run of form with a promising start to the US PGA Tour’s playoffs series.
The Australian shot a two-under-par 68 to be tied 18th, three shots off the lead after the first round of the $A11.5 million Barclays tournament in New Jersey.
US PGA Championship winner Day pulled out of the pre-tournament pro-am after tweaking his back but admitted it still troubled him in the first round.
“I think if I had another day’s rest I’d be fine but just coming back today trying to go at it a little hard with the driver definitely hurt,” said Day.
“But once everything started heating up the back kind of loosened up a little bit which was nice.
“I went for an MRI yesterday and structurally I’m a lot fitter and better than I was last year so all the work that I’ve been putting in to the gym has been paying off.”
World No.3 Day went into the event lying second only to Jordan Spieth in the season-long FedeX Cup points rankings which culminate in the four-tournament playoff series with its diminishing fields.
His recent streak of form is extraordinary – extending from his tied ninth at the US Open when suffering vertigo, to a tied fourth at the British Open, victory at the Canadian Open, tied 12th at the WGC-Bridgestone and his maiden major victory at the US PGA Championship earlier this month.
While Day again prospered, 21-year-old world No.1 Spieth had a rare shocker, shooting a 74 including a pair of three-putt bogeys and a tee shot in the water.
Day was not the leading Australian however.
Matt Jones had a 67 and was two shots behind joint leaders Bubba Watson, Spencer Levin, Camilo Villegas and Tony Finau.
Of the other Australians, John Senden shot 69, Adam Scott and Steve Bowditch had 71s and Marc Leishman a 74.