Day, Jones make hot start in PGA

World No.4 Jason Day and compatriot Matt Jones sit in a tie for third late in the opening round of the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

Day and Jones both fired solid four-under-par rounds of 68 to be just two shots off early pace-setting American Dustin Johnson, who shot 66.

Johnson has now held the lead after the first round at the last three majors, but failed to win the previous two.

Swede David Lingmerth defied higher afternoon winds to shoot 67 and take second alone while Americans Harris English, Russell Henley and JB Holmes, along with New Zealander Danny Lee, joined Day and Jones in third place.

Day started slowly with a run of pars on gettable holes before draining a 25-foot birdie on the 14th, his fifth hole.

It kick-started his assault and another birdie on the 16th left him two under at the turn.

A stunning approach shot to the par-five second to just 10 feet led to an eagle, and Day hit five under with a birdie on the fifth, only to give one back on the sixth.

“Happy with a 68. I think it is a good start,” Day said as he chases a maiden major title.

“I just kind of hung in there and then once I got my first birdie that got my game going and I started driving the ball a lot better, hit a lot of good greens and felt like I putted pretty solid today.

“One down, three to go.”

Jones was hot early, getting to four under through seven holes.

A bogey on the ninth was his only blemish, but a birdie on the 13th ensured he’d join Day in the clubhouse at four under.

“I didn’t hit it as well as I know I can but the early birdies got the round going and then I held on down the stretch when I needed to,” Jones said.

Johnson, who famously was penalised two strokes on the final hole of the 2010 PGA Championship at this venue to miss out on a playoff, was in control from the outset.

Playing with Day and Rickie Fowler, Johnson opened with consecutive birdies and then eagled the 16th hole, his seventh of the round, to be four under at the turn.

Further birdies at the first, second and fourth holes were only soured by his third-hole bogey.

“I thought I did a great job of just staying patient, hitting the shots that the course allowed me to hit. And I struck the ball well today. So I was very pleased,” Johnson said.

John Senden is the next best Australian at two-under through 17 holes while the rest of the Australians are teetering.

Adam Scott is already in need of a mini miracle after opening with a 76.

Geoff Ogilvy, Steven Bowditch and Cameron Smith shot 74 while former world No.1 Tiger Woods, struggled to a 75, a score matched by club pro Brett Jones.

Marc Leishman, nursing a back injury, is four over through 15 holes.

World No.1 Rory McIlroy returned to competitive golf from his ankle injury with a 71 to be five back, a score matched by No.2 Jordan Spieth.

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