Former world number one Jason Day is again showing the stuff that took him to the top.
Jason Day was ready to give himself “a pat on the back” but knows a first round lead is one step on a long journey back from the golfing wilderness.
As Sergio Garcia all but guaranteed his passage off the PGA Tour to Greg Norman’s breakaway LIV Golf circuit after an on-course microphone picked him up saying “I can’t wait to get out of here” as he searched for a lost ball, Day made another solid step in his career resurgence.
The former world number one and two-time major champion was in the zone in the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship in Maryland as he stormed to an opening round seven-under 63 and a one-shot lead over Joel Dahmen.
Day, now ranked 127, showed glimpses of a return to his best when he finished tied for third at Torrey Pines in January, an effort which propelled him back inside the top 100.
But it proved a fleeting glimpse, and the 34-year-old, who lost his mother earlier this year, has missed the cut at his past three events.
Winless since 2018, Day said he felt like he could “climb the mountain” again but had to re-build the conficene in his game, and his body, after injuries and swing issues brought him back to the pack.
“I am encouraged. I think it’s a good step in the right direction. I obviously, I’ve got to give myself a pat on the back because I played some nice golf today,” Day said in Maryland.
“Obviously I don’t want to get ahead of myself because I know that it’s easy in the position I am right now after a good round to get ahead of myself and start talking where it could potentially go.
“But I think I’ve just got to stay as present as possible. I feel like I can get back to where I need to be, but that’s a total decision up top in my head if I want to climb that mountain again.
“I feel good about myself and I’ve just got to slowly work on the confidence. The thing that’s different between now and when I was No. 1 in the world, even though the technique might not have been as crisp as it is right now, I had all the confidence in the world.
“So that’s always the goal.”
Day has won four times in the nine tournaments he has taken the first round lead. This is the first time he’s been in front after the opening round since 2020.
Day said he was still managing ongoing back issues, which forced a swing change the Australian said he was “obsessed” with.
“It’s not hurting, it just like over time if I do it too much, it just gets aggravated and it gets a little bit sore. But, I mean, you walk down the range here, everyone’s sore at some point,” he said.
“I mean, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that I think about the golf swing in the morning, I think about the golf swing during the day and I think about the golf swing at night.
“I’m obsessed with it. Overall, it’s moving in the right direction.”
Garcia, the 2017 Masters Champion, is among a growing list of names set to ask for PGA Tour exemptions to play in the opening event of Norman’s Saudi-backed tour, in London in June.
On-course microphones picked up Garcia saying he “Can’t wait to get out of here” and “Just a couple more weeks until I don’t have to deal with (the rules official) anymore” as he looked for his ball, a signal he’s on his way out.
Originally published as Jason Day storms to the lead at the PGA Tour event in Maryland