Day shoots record-tying 63 to move two ahead

Thu May 12, 2016 7:39pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Jason Day lived up to his status as the world's number one golfer as he charged into a two-shot lead with a record-tying nine-under-par 63 in Thursday's opening round of the Players Championship at Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Taking advantage of a receptive layout at the TPC Sawgrass with very little rough and barely a breath of wind early on a sun-drenched day ripe for low scoring, the long-hitting Australian piled up nine birdies in a bogey-free display.

Though he rued a missed birdie opportunity at the par-three eighth, his penultimate hole, Day picked up five shots over the closing stretch to become just the fifth player to card a 63 at the event widely regarded as the unofficial fifth major.

"I played solid from tee to green and I was very confident with my putter," Day told Golf Channel after finishing two ahead of Americans Cameron Tringale, Bill Haas and Brendan Steele, England's Justin Rose and Ireland's Shane Lowry.

"Just got things going. Unfortunately it didn't go in on eight," he said of a narrow miss with a 40-foot putt at the eighth that would have given him a birdie-birdie-birdie finish.

"I really wanted to hole that putt to then try and give myself a birdie on nine to beat the record but I will take tying the course record."

Fred Couples in 1992 was the first player to shoot 63 at the TPC Sawgrass before Greg Norman (1994), Roberto Castro (2013), Martin Kaymer (2014) and then Day followed suit.

PGA Championship winner Day, who has long coveted a first Players title to add to his already impressive golfing resume, felt that fatigue had helped his on-course focus.

"It's been a long week because it's been hot and I just felt really tired for some reason," said the 28-year-old Australian, who has won six tournaments in his last 16 starts. "That kind of distracted me from anything else.   Continued...

May 12, 2016; Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, USA; Jason Day hits his tee shot on the 16th hole during the first round of the 2016 Players Championship golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass - Stadium Course. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports