All eyes were on Jason Day early on day one of the 2017 Emirates Australian Open but it was 22-year-old rookie Cameron Davis who set the early pace at The Australian Golf Club.
The young Sydneysider birdied his opening two holes and backed it up with four consecutive birdies from the 4th to the 7th to race to 8-under and the outright lead.
Ideal weather for scoring and a little local knowledge helped Davis stun the field early on – the Monash Golf Club junior won the 2015 Australian Amateur Championship around Jack Nicklaus’ redesigned brute.
“I know the golf course well. I didn’t have to think too hard around my practice round, so I feel like I had a good chance this week,” Davis said after his round.
“I’ve had rounds of golf like this before but not in tournaments. I’m just going to treat it like any other round and try to play my best golf and see where it puts me at the end of the tournament, which is hopefully at the top.
“With a start like this, I feel like if I can keep on doing what I’m doing, I’ll be right up there come Sunday.”
With some minor changes made to the course, including the lengthening of some holes and bunker changes, Davis’ 63 may well stand as a new course record, although this is still to be confirmed by tournament officials.
Meanwhile, the man they all came to see didn’t disappoint. Back home in Australia for the first time in four years, Day signed off on a 5-under 66 to be well placed heading into day two.
“I made a couple of mistakes out there with some swings, but made, I think, eight birdies, which was nice and a good start to the week,” Day said. “I’m definitely looking forward to the next few days. I’ll get some rest tonight and get back into it tomorrow.”
The world No.12 admits he was blown away by the support he received out on the course.
“It was amazing. Sydney crowds are usually pretty big, but it was a good size today. It was nice to be able to play well in front of them too, because obviously that’s why they pay the money, to come here and watch good golf.”
Day was buoyed by the presence of his mother, Dening, in the large galleries that accompanied his morning round. Day said it would mean a lot to win the Open for Dening, who underwent surgery for lung cancer earlier this year. “It’s great to see her out here looking healthy,” Day said.
Shot of the day honours belong to New Zealand’s Brad Shilton, who collected a TAG Heuer timepiece valued at $16,300 after becoming the first player to score a hole-in-one on the 11th hole. On his second hole of the day, Shilton’s 5-iron tee shot found the bottom of the cup on the 172-metre par 3.