Jason Day investigates his ride today on the 11th. Image: Getty
Jason Day started his defense of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego neatly today, but he was in the shadow of Spaniard Jon Rahm.
Day shot a five-under-par 67 on the northern course of Torrey, the easier the two in the game this week.
The Australian had five birdies for the day and an eagle at the par-five 17th hole in California, with some of his best ball-catching form, along with New South Welshman Matt Jones, who also started with a 67 on the northern course .
Day won twice last season, but was even more subdued and has stepped out of the top 10 of the world ranking. His most recent victory was the Wells Fargo tournament in May last year.
Although his return to the foreground is welcome, it was in the context that he played the more manageable course, with most of the leaders, including Rahm (62), playing on the northern course. Justin Rose, the ruling world number 1, shot 63 on the northern course and called it "the kind of golf course that you think you want to make the most of it on a day like today".
Rahm, who won this event in 2017, went out at the back in 29 and then rolled into four consecutive birdies on the first nine in his opening 63, giving him a lead of one shot.
Of the other Australians, Cameron Smith (71, northerly course) was calm, while Marc Leishman ended up strong for a 68, as did John Senden.
Adam Scott unveiled his new putting technique – similar to Matt Kuchar with his left arm around the shaft of the club – and also used the flag for almost every green outside of the branches. He scored a 70 on the southern track and finished with a nice birdie bet on the 18th.
Tiger Woods started its campaign in 2019 with a 70 on the northern course, also ending with a birdie.
Meanwhile, the six-under-par 66 of Scott Henders in the European Tour & Desert Desert Classic put him in the first round within a shot from the leader.
The English Matthew Fitzpatrick leads on seven-under.
The Australians Wade Ormsby and Jason Scrivener (67) are also in the mix together with Lucas Herbert (69).