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Jason Day shots record-tying 63 in first round of Players Championship

Players Championship

Jason Day 63 -9

Cameron Tringale 65 -7

Shane Lowry 65 -7

Justin Rose 65-7

Bill Haas 65 -7

Brendan Steele 65 -7

OTHER NOTABLES

Ernie Els 66 -6

Bubba Watson 69 -3

Phil Mickelson 70 -2

Jordan Spieth 72 E

Rickie Fowler 72 E

Rory McIlroy 72 E

Adam Scott 73 +1

TV today: 1 p.m., Golf Channel

Weather: Mostly sunny in morning, isolated showers late afternoon; low 71, high 85; 20-30 percent chance of rain; wind 7-8 mph

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Jason Day created a far better memory Thursday than his last round at the TPC Sawgrass. Not only was he 18 shots better, the world's No. 1 player tied the course record with 9-under 63 that gave him a two-shot lead in the Players Championship.

In a game that can defy logic, and on a course that can be perplexing, Day had a simple explanation for bouncing back from last year's 81.

"I'm playing a lot better than I was last year," he said.

The 28-year-old Australian was in such control that he putted for birdie on every hole. He made half of them, and his longest par putt was 30 inches.

"Tee to green was pretty decent — was actually really good — and then once I got on the green, I felt like I could hole everything," he said.

It helped that there was hardly any wind on a steaming morning that made Sawgrass more vulnerable than usual.

The wind began to increase in the afternoon, which made a difference. Of the 40 rounds in the 60s, 29 were in the morning. Boo Weekley had the low score in the afternoon at 66. The 40 rounds in the 60s and 82 rounds under par were the most for an opening round since 1993 at the Players.

"I don't know what the guys were doing out there this morning, but I don't think we saw the same golf course this afternoon," Rory McIlroy said after his 72. "It was a little firmer, the wind got up a little bit and those guys made the course look awfully easy this morning."

Day had only the fifth round of 63 at the Stadium Course in the 35 years of the Players Championship.

Shane Lowry became the first player to shoot 29 on the back nine. He was in the group at 65 that included Justin Rose and Bill Haas. Ernie Els, who just last month started the Masters with a six-putt quintuple bogey, ran off six birdies and an eagle to lead the group at 66.

Not everyone took advantage of the morning, including Jordan Spieth.

Spieth, in his first tournament since he lost a five-shot lead on the back nine at Augusta National, played alongside Day and labored his way to 72. Spieth says he has put the Masters behind him. Now he has to get rid of the poor finishes.

With three straight birdies, he was trying to at least stay in Day's neighborhood. Then Spieth made bogeys on two straight holes, answered with birdie then ended his round with double bogey by taking five shots to get up-and-down from a bunker behind the green on the par-5 ninth.

"I hit it seven times," he said. "I hit two fantastic shots, and then not really sure after that."

Masters champion Danny Willett opened with 70 in his first event since slipping on the green jacket.

Rose looked at the pin positions and had a good feeling, especially on the island-green 17th. It was at the front, with a ridge serving as a backboard. By midafternoon, only four shots found the water. And with hardly any wind and greens still moderately soft, good scores were available. "If there was a day to get the course, today was it," Rose said.

Day wasted no time.

He knocked in a 30-foot putt on his first hole, caught a good break on the par-5 11th by having a clear gap out of the pine trees that set up a birdie from the bunker and made it three straight birdies with a wedge into 6 feet on the 12th.

Day's 63 allowed him to tie the course record, joining Martin Kaymer — he did it two years ago in the opening round of his victory — Roberto Castro (2013), Greg Norman (1994) and Fred Couples (1992).

Adam Scott was bogey-free and headed toward a solid start in the afternoon until two bad swings.

He was 3 under when he hit a 2-iron off the par-4 18th tee that was too far left and found the water. It got worse. His next shot went right, reached a cart path and kept bouncing until it was some 60 yards beyond the green. Scott tried to play a lofted pitch, but from that angle it rolled down the slope of the green and into the water. He then three-putted for quadruple-bogey 8 and 1-over 73. "I was not far from an okay round with nothing exciting happening, and then it all happened," he said. "It was far too exciting on the last."

Jason Day shots record-tying 63 in first round of Players Championship 05/12/16 [Last modified: Thursday, May 12, 2016 10:42pm]
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