Jason Day watches his ball fly after hitting on the 18th fairway during the first round of the Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Picture: Lynne Sladky/AP
Jason Day watches his ball fly after hitting on the 18th fairway during the first round of the Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Picture: Lynne Sladky/AP Lynne Sladky

Scott and Day sit three off pace at Players Championship

ADAM Scott has wrestled his putter out of the doldrums to join fellow Aussie Jason Day in the mix after day one at the Players Championship in Florida.

Scott entered golf's unofficial fifth major ranked a lowly 193rd on the greens on the US PGA Tour, but his recent switch to a broomstick putter paid dividends during his best round in two months.

The 2004 Players winner, Scott posted a three-under-par 69 before Day matched the score.

The big-name Australian duo sit just three shots back of a six-way tie for the lead at TPC Sawgrass.

World No.1 Dustin Johnson fired a 66 to share the lead with Webb Simpson, Alex Noren, Chesson Hadley, Patrick Cantlay and 2012 winner Matt Kuchar.

Defending champion Si Woo Kim (67) is among six players sharing seventh a shot back at five under.

With 27 putts, Scott ranked 17th for strokes gained in putting on day one on Sawgrass's devilishly tricky greens, highlighted by a 15m par putt he drained early in the round to maintain momentum.

"I made a couple long putts that felt good and I made most of the short ones, which were huge ... because it's so easy to drop a shot around here," Scott said.

The 37-year-old mixed five birdies with two bogeys for his first round in the 60s on the US Tour since day three of the Valspar Championship in March.

"Well, absolutely," Scott said when asked if the switch to the long putter was validated.

"Just to make (putting) a little easier when (I have) been struggling for any kind of momentum, which has been frustrating."

World No.7 Day, whose victory at last week's Wells Fargo Championship was his second US Tour title of the year, picked up six birdies.

But the 2016 Players winner showed signs of fatigue with three sloppy bogeys, two of which came from prime positions in the fairway.

"My driving was nice - I hit 11 (of 14) fairways but I just need to tidy up with the wedges and irons," said Day, who hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation.

"Fingers crossed there's no wind in the morning and I can go out and make a hot run early."

Australia's Marc Leishman was two shots back at one-under after a bogey at the difficult par-four 18th gave him a 71.

"I don't know how people shoot in the 60s around here, because it's so tough," Leishman joked after his round.

However, the rest of the Australian contingent struggled, with Rod Pampling (74), Cameron Smith (76) and Geoff Ogilvy (78) leaving themselves plenty of work to make the 36-hole cut.

Tiger Woods battled afternoon winds to post an even par 72 to sit six shots off the lead.

He later said a morning tee time and hot weather could be the perfect recipe to help him charge up the leaderboard on day two.

"There are a lot of birdie holes out there, and if it stays calm in the morning, you'll see a bunch of guys go low," he said.

"(Friday) is supposed to be the hottest day of the week, so the ball will (fly) forever and this golf course won't be playing very long."

Woods' playing partner and old rival Phil Mickelson had a day to forget, carding a disastrous seven-over 79.

Mickelson, the 2007 Players champion, rubbished the idea that a bizarre, long sleeve button-up, which resembled a business shirt, had any affect on his play.

"You don't even know it's on - it's very comfortable," Mickelson said when asked if the shirt restricted his swing.

"I think nobody does slightly overweight, middle-aged guy better than me, so this says exactly who I am."


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