Matt Jones leads the Australian charge after the first round of the US PGA Championship at Valhalla, three off the lead.
Matt Jones came to Valhalla ready to prove his major championship mettle and a first round three-under 68 has laid the platform for the New South Welshman to do it.
Jones led the Australian tilt in the PGA Championship, the last major of the year, sitting in a tie for 11th just three shots adrift of first round pacesetters Lee Westwood, Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer who took day one honours at six-under.
World No.1 Rory McIlroy, No.4 Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk, Chris Wood and Edourdo Molinari shared fourth just one shot off the lead.
Jones, playing the back nine first, made the turn three under par and when he birdied the seventh, his 16th, he was just two back.
But a three-putt bogey on his penultimate hole took a little gloss off an otherwise impressive round.
“It was probably the worst score I could have shot, I was hitting it well and left a few out there but it is a good start, the first time I have started well in a major so I am pleased,” Jones said.
“I felt it was coming and it was just a matter of time. It is always there inside me it is just a matter of doing it when it counts. Today is a good start but that can disappear quickly so I have to keep it going.”
Jason Day and Geoff Ogilvy sit poised to make a run at the leaders in round two after solid two-under 69s.
Day, coming into the event off the back of a withdrawal in Ohio, hit the ball solidly and made three birdies but failed to take advantage with his putter.
The Queenslander missed four makeable birdie putts, one from just two feet, and three-putted the 16th green for his lone bogey.
“The putter just wasn’t on. If I had of got it hot today the score would have been a lot lower but I am still excited because I seem to have worked the kinks out of my swing and things are feeling nice,” Day said.
Day’s demeanour was noticeably more relaxed then it has been over the last month where the frustration of an injury and illness riddled year was getting the best of him.
“I needed to focus a little harder than I have over the last few weeks,” he said.
“Typically I don’t get off to great starts but I come home strong but this is a decent start and I’ll be looking to keep it going.”
Ogilvy, fresh from his victory last week, continued his good form.
“I was playing with house money a little bit having only gotten in here a few days ago, so it was nice to be relaxed and play well,” Ogilvy said.
World No.2 Adam Scott failed to get his game going, forced to watch Westwood pull away in his group as he battled to an even-par 71.
Scott had to birdie his final hole of the day to get back even with the card after an uncharacteristic poor ball-striking day.
“I didn’t play very well today. My rhythm is out, I am not hitting it down my line and that makes it hard to get around,” Scott said.
Marc Leishman was rocking at three-under through 13 holes but dropped three shots coming home for an even-par 71.
Steven Bowditch shot 74 while John Senden struggled to a 75; the same score posted by club pro Stuart Deane.