Day soars with 63 at Sawgrass

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Jason Day tied the Sawgrass course record to grab an early two-shot clubhouse lead at the Players Championship.

The Australian's stellar season continued as he posted a flawless nine-under-par 63 in the first round of the year's unofficial fifth major.

With soft greens, low winds and balmy spring temperatures the order of the day, there was no shortage of low scoring on Thursday.

“Everybody is shooting nothing,” said Ernie Els, who opened with a six-under-par 66 but still found himself trailing Day by three shots.

Day's bogey-free, nine-birdie round equaled the course record first set by Fred Couples in 1992, and since matched by Greg Norman, Roberto Castro and Martin Kaymer.

Day hit all but three greens in regulation and averaged 319 yards off the tee. He gave himself one birdie opportunity after the other, and holed most of them, reaching the turn in four under and picking up five more shots on the way home – including a closing birdie at the ninth after this beautiful third shot:

"Shooting 63 was great today," Day said after his round.

"I can't really recall the last time I hit the ball as well as I did today and then also putting as well as I did. Everything kind of just clicked today and I shot a good score." 

The Australian doesn't have the best record at Sawgrass. Last year, he missed the cut after a second-round 81. 

"I haven't had the greatest finishes here at The Players Championship," he said earlier in the week. "I feel a lot more prepared this year than I ever have in my career coming into this event. So I'm hoping that is a little bit of a different result this year."

Day leads by two shots over a host of others in the clubhouse after rounds of 65, including Justin Rose, Shane Lowry and Cameron Tringale.

"There's a lot of guys at 7 under par right now and a lot of guys that are going off the afternoon tee time that can definitely shoot that score as well," he added.

Less fortunate on the day was World No 2 Jordan Spieth.

Playing his first competitive round of golf since his infamous Masters meltdown last month, the American had to settle for a level-par 72. He closed with a double-bogey seven.