Aussies in hunt
JASON Day and Adam Scott put themselves well in the mix on Quail Hollow’s treacherous new greens during the first round of the US PGA Championship in North Carolina.
Day and Scott were just three and four shots off the lead respectively in Australia’s most promising start to a major this year.
But they were among the big names perplexed with the re- grassed and reshaped putting surfaces rolled out for the course’s first major championship hosting.
Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen and American Kevin Kisner took full advantage with four- under- par 67s to top the leaderboard.
US Open champion Brooks Koepka ( 68) and four others share third at three- under, with world No. 10 Rickie Fowler, Paul Casey and Patrick Reed ( 69) headlining a seven- way tie for eighth a shot back.
With two birdies and an eagle in his last four holes, Day clawed his way back to one- under and a tie for 15th alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and world No. 2 Hideki Matsuyama.
Scott was one stroke further adrift after an even- par 71.
On a tough day, with four- under the worst score relative to par to lead an opening round at the PGA since 2008, neither grand slam- chasing world No. 2 Jordan Spieth or No. 4 Rory McIlroy made putts longer than six feet.
World No. 7 Day’s confusion with the putting surfaces saw him plummet down the leaderboard early with three dropped shots in 13 holes before his gutsy fightback.
“Finishing the way I did, overall I’m pretty happy with the first round’s play I just have to slowly build on that,” Day said. “From tee to green, ( the changes) are fine and the fairways are really receptive. But once you get on the greens, it’s a different beast.”
Scott was next best of the Australians in equal 25th after carding a 71.
After a solid ball- striking display and ranking 12th for putts made on greens reached in regulation, Scott was confident of climbing up the leaderboard on day two.
“I played really solid tee to green, but ... ( the greens) are just brutal; your good shots end up with impossible putts,” he said.
Townsville native Scott Hend was one- over after shooting a 72 to share 33rd alongside British Open champion Spieth and two- time US PGA Championship winner McIlroy.