AAP Golf

Day in the mix at WGC event in Memphis

By AAP Newswire

Jason Day birdied the final hole to shoot a two-under-par 68 in the opening round of the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis on Thursday.

A day after announcing he had parted company with long-time coach and mentor Colin Swatton, the former world No.1 mixed five birdies with three bogeys to be in a tie for 15th.

The Queenslander is six shots behind leader Brooks Koepka, who returned to form with a 62 that included nine birdies and a lonesome bogey at TPC Southwind.

Day was even for the round after nine holes but birdies on 10, 16 and 18 kept him four shots behind and within striking distance of second-placed duo Rickie Fowler and Brendon Todd.

The world No.43 would have been even closer had it not been for a bogey on 17, but still finds himself in elite company including Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen, Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama.

Compatriot Marc Leishman finished even par while Matt Jones and Lucas Herbert went one over for the day, a shot ahead of Cameron Smith.

Before Koepka struck, Fowler put a poor recent run behind him to grab the clubhouse lead.

The American, who has missed the cut in five of his last nine tournaments, birdied three of his final five holes for his six-under-par 64.

He drained a 30-foot birdie at his penultimate hole before making his only bogey of the day at the last where his tee shot found the rough.

Koepka, a week after missing the cut in Minnesota in the 3M Open, found great form and credited coaches Claude Harmon and Pete Cowen.

"It's the first time I feel like I know where my misses are, I know when the club's in the correct spot, I know when the putting stroke's nice," Koepka said.

"It's all just the work we've put in over the last three weeks of countless hours of beating balls and on the putting green."

Koepka also will defend his PGA Championship title next week at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, and his coaches helped him realise last weekend how much he was favouring his injured left knee.

He sure found something at TPC Southwind, where he turned in his lowest round of the year and best in seven events at this course.

This was his eighth time shooting under par in his last nine rounds here. He needed 26 putts after working earlier this week with Phil Kenyon.

"It's nice to see those results and all the changes we've made come through," Koepka said.