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Day fights putter at PGA, Walker leads

AAP logoAAP 28/07/2016 By Ashton Hudson

World No.1 Jason Day headed straight to the practice green after uncharacteristically missing a handful of short putts as his PGA Championship title defence began.

Day started solidly at Baltusrol Golf Club despite his limited preparation but missed six putts inside 3.5 metres, stopping him from wrestling control of the tournament.

The Queenslander settled for a two-under-68 in the opening round leaving him tied ninth, just three shots back of American Jimmy Walker, who set the early pace with a 65 to be five under.

Two-time major winner Martin Kaymer of Germany plus Argentina's Emiliano Grillo and England's Ross Fisher sit tied second after impressive 66s.

"I just didn't capitalise on the opportunities that I had out there," Day said.

"I haven't had the greatest putting display over the last three weeks that I've played. I think that shows a little bit in the results.

"I've got to do a little bit of putting to try to straighten out a few of the little ones. Try to change that focus from standing over the ball and thinking about what am I doing rather than get in there and try to hole the putt."

Despite the struggles on the greens, Day remained somewhat upbeat given he found some of his missing hitting prowess.

"I'm pretty pleased. I'm very excited about how I hit it today," he said.

"I hit a lot of good quality shots. Hasn't been like that lately. To be able to go out there and hit it exactly where I'm going and see the shot and what I need to do and actually execute it was exciting for me. Really positive stuff going into the next three rounds."

Day was joined by John Senden and Scott Hend as the leading Australians.

Senden is playing his first major of the year and looking to beat his career-best equal fourth from the 2007 PGA Championship.

"I felt like I played really well today. I played solid early and got off to a good start," he said.

"The conditions early were quite gettable, I thought. It was really calm. I was going along nicely.

"But it seems like as soon as we made the turn, the wind got up a little bit more and the greens started to get a little bit more baked out.

"So happy to be in the house at two-under par. That gives me good momentum for tomorrow."

Hend, a European Tour regular, has never finished higher than 32nd in his six previous majors.

Aaron Baddeley and Adam Scott toiled to even par rounds of 70.

Marc Leishman and Marcus Fraser shot 71 with Greg Chalmers a shot worse with 72 and Matt Jones struggled to a 74.

Rory McIlroy was the surprise of the morning, with the world No.4 struggling to a 74 while US Open champion Dustin Johnson is in an uphill battle to make the cut after opening with a 76.

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