AS IT STANDS -5 – Jason Day, Brendon Todd; -4 – Scottie Scheffler, Martin Kaymer, Xander Schauffele, Bud Cauley, Zach Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Brendan Steele, Mike Lorenzo-Vera. OTHERS -2 – Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau; Par – Rory McIlroy; Jordan Spieth, Robert MacIntyre
Jason Day and Brendon Todd share a slender lead going into day two of the US PGA Championship.
Day, 32, carded a blemish-free five-under 65 to post the early clubhouse lead at TPC Harding Park in the first major of this reshuffled season and, with the wind picking up as the afternoon session got underway, it looked like he would be out alone in front by the day’s end.
However, Todd, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season, had other ideas. The American holed a gutsy putt for par on the last to join Day at the top of the leaderboard.
A group of nine players, including back-to-back defending champion Brooks Koepka, are one shot adrift on four-under, with eight more on three-under.
All told, there are 48 players within four shots of the lead, 15-time major champion Tiger Woods amongst them . The 44-year-old, who is looking to win the US PGA for a record-equalling fifth time, opened with a two-under 68 - his lowest first round in a major since the 2012 Open.
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Day rediscovers his mojo
Australian ace Day, a winner of the Wanamaker trophy in 2015, carded his lowest-ever opening round in the championship to hit the front and continue his recent resurgence.
The former world No.1, who recently announced his split from long-time swing coach Colin Swatton, came into this week off the back of three consecutive top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, having missed the cut in three of his previous four events.
After getting his latest major bid underway, he explained how a change in attitude has contributed to a turnaround in his fortunes.
“I finally had enough of feeling sorry for myself and it's easy to do that in this game because it is so mentally tough,” said Day. “You can start blaming everything else but yourself. Sometimes you've just got to pull your pants up and just move on.
“I feel like the momentum that I've had over the last three starts has kind of seeped into this week. The funny thing is that every day I'm excited to go back to the golf course and play, whereas before I was struggling to get up and going, ‘Do I want to kind of put myself through this again?’ To be honest, I'm excited to get out and play every week now.”
As for Todd, the Pennsylvania-born 35-year-old's incredible resurgence continues in what is just his second major start since the 2015 US PGA at Whistling Straits.
"I would say that's very satisfying to be in my first [US PGA] in five years and play well and be comfortable in the moment and the situation," he said. "I'm just going to try and try to take this momentum into the rest of the week and have some fun."
History motivating Brooks
Defending champion Brooks Koepka, meanwhile, explained how a place in golf history is helping motivate him this week.
Victory this week would see the 30-year-old become the first player in the strokeplay era of the US PGA – and just the second overall – to win the title three years on the spin.
He had the opportunity to ‘three-peat’ in last year’s US Open and came up just short. That, he says, is something he’s determined not to let happen again.
“It would mean extra because I wasn't able to do it at the US Open,” said Koepka. That drove me nuts a little bit. I played good golf, but I just got beat by Gary.
“To do it here, it would be specialI think there's, what, six guys that have ever won three [majors] in a row. Not a bad list to be on. The whole goal every time we tee it up in a major is to win them. The whole year is spent prepping for these four.”