Day Opens With 63, Leads Dahmen by 1 Shot in the Wells Fargo Championship

Jason Day of Australia hasn’t won since 2018, much of which can be traced to a chronic back injury, but he could me on his way back.

The 34-year-old Day, whose only top-10 finish this season was a tie for third in the Farmers Insurance Open, posted a 7-under-par 63 to take a one-stroke lead over Joel Dahmen after the opening round of the Wells Fargo Championship at TPC Potomac at Avenal Farm in Potomac, Md.

“I feel like I’m still a long way from when I was at my best, but I feel like with work that I’ve done that I’m more creative and I feel good about where my game is,” said Day, who has won 12 times on the PGA Tour and 16 times as a pro, including the 2015 PGA Championship. “This was a good step, but there are three more days and I want to put myself in a good position to win.

“I feel like I’m going in the right direction, just have to keep my head down, but this is very encouraging. Every time I play well, people always ask my how may back is. I’ve done a lot of work on it and it feels pretty good, but I’ve had a few hiccups every now and then. But lately, it’s actually been pretty good.”

Day, who won the Farmers and the Wells Fargo in 2018, birdied three of the first five holes and after making his only bogey at No. 13, made the last three of his eight birdies in a row through the 16th hole.

Dahmen, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2021 Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship, collected six birdies on the front nine before making his only bogey at No. 11, but added another birdie at No. 17 in his 64.

“I like seeing my name up there,” said Dahmen, who won twice on the PGA Tour Canada in 2014. “It’s something that, you know, that’s what we work for, right? To have a little bit of pressure in the first round I think is great.

“I was surprised. It’s a tough golf course, so I knew I was playing well and birdies were going early. But over 72 holes, everyone’s going to get hot for a stretch. I happened to get hot on the front nine of the first round. Hopefully, I can stay hot or get hot again somewhere along the way.”

Matthew Wolff of Agoura Hills, who claimed his only PGA Tour victory in the 2019 3M Open, birdied four of the first six holes on the front nine on the way to a 65 and is tied for third with local favorite Denny McCarthy, who birdied four of the first six holes after starting at No. 10; Aaron Rai of England, who birdied two of the last three holes in a bogey-free round; Callum Tarren of England, who had three birdies on each nine, and Paul Barjon of France, who had three birdies on the back nine in his bogey-free round.

Rickie Fowler of Murrieta sank an 11-foot eagle putt in the 14th hole in a 66 and is in a big tie for eighth with Nick Watney of Davis and Fresno State, James Hahn of Alameda and the University of California, K.H. Lee of South Korea, Adam Svensson of Canada, Stewart Cink, Wesley Bryan, Mackenzie Hughes of Canada and Dylan Wu.

Seventh-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, the defending champion who has won the Wells Fargo Championship three times, made seven birdies but a double-bogey 6 on the fourth hole helped limit him to a 67 and a tie for 17th.

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