Jason Day doesn’t have the greatest track record around Harbour Town Golf Links.
Of course, he’s never before been the No. 1 player in the world while playing in the RBC Heritage.
Day played as most expected Thursday in the first round of the 48th Heritage, carding a 4-under-par 67 to sit a stroke behind co-leaders Luke Donald and Branden Grace in a tie for third.
One of several endorsed RBC ambassadors on the PGA Tour, Day has a tie for ninth, pair of top-30 finishes and a missed cut in four previous Heritage appearances between 2008 and 2013.
His 67 Thursday continued a torrid stretch of golf. Day is coming off a tie for 10th in the Masters last week, and he won his previous two events – the Arnold Palmer Invitational and WGC-Dell Match Play. He is seeking his seventh win in his past 15 events dating back to last year’s RBC Canadian Open.
Day steadily climbed the leaderboard Thursday with birdies on holes 5, 7, 11, 12 and 15 to tie for the lead before making his lone bogey on the tough par-4 18th hole, where he had to take a penalty stroke for an unplayable lie in a greenside bunker then got up and down.
“It was a tough break, it was a little bit unlucky, but I shouldn’t have been in that bunker,” Day said. “It’s unfortunate, but things happen. I played good up to that point, so I’m not too disappointed. I played very nicely throughout the whole day to shoot 67.”
Day almost added penalty strokes to his score before he teed off. He said he lost track of time before teeing off.
“I came out and nearly missed my bloody tee time. I was looking at the wrong clock,” Day said. “I walked over pretty quickly and hit my first one down the fairway.”
Day played the week after a major just once last year, and he won the RBC Canadian Open the week following a tie for fourth in the British Open. “So I think if I can do that then this shouldn't be too hard, right?” said Day, who admitted to being a little low on energy Thursday. “I feel like I should have a week off, especially mentally, grinding. What we had last week as a tournament was really tough. And we're going to have similar conditions this week.”
Despite being a bit weary, he wasn’t happy with his ball-striking in the Masters so he practiced for about 3 ½ hours Monday. “That helped a lot with the confidence knowing what I needed to do, and it showed a little bit today,” said Day, who is the first world No. 1 to play in the Heritage since Donald in 2012.
A tough Friday
The weather forecast for Friday’s second round calls for rain to be fairly steady throughout the day and heavy at times, with wind consistently at 25 mph with stronger gusts.
So if much golf is played, it’s going to be a difficult chore.
“It should be very difficult, but you’ve got to suck it up, I guess,” Day said. “You can’t run away from it. I’m going to have to wake up tomorrow at some point, and I may as well just come out and play the best I can. That’s all you can do, really.”
The nasty weather is expected to continue into Saturday morning before the rain stops for an afternoon that is still predicted to have winds in excess of 20 mph. Sunday is supposed to be improved with sun, 70 degrees and 14 mph winds.
Boeing flyover set
For the fourth time in the company’s five years as the presenting sponsor of the Heritage, Boeing is staging a flyover of the course by one of the huge 787 Dreamliner planes that it builds at its North Charleston plant.
For the first time, it will be shown live during a broadcast.
Play will stop momentarily and spectators and viewers during the CBS broadcast Saturday afternoon will be able to view the Dreamliner as it buzzes the 18th hole at 4 p.m. The flight is dependent upon clear weather and final flight certificates.
Previous flyovers were held earlier in the week as well at an earlier hour before live broadcasts began.
The 787 is scheduled for delivery to Vietnam Airlines later this month and already has the airline’s emblem.
CBS debuts SmartCart
CBS Sports will be the first U.S. broadcast network to use SmartCart SVX when it debuts the cutting edge technology during this weekend’s broadcasts of the Heritage from 3-6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
Smartcart is a 72-inch mobile screen attached to a custom fitted golf cart for broadcast applications, and will be used by CBS Sports announcers to analyze and telestrate a myriad of data including golf swings and shots, difficulty of holes and scorecards.
Smartcart will be positioned on the practice range next to the 10th tee this weekend and is expected to be used on the remainder of CBS’ golf telecasts this year.
Other innovations that CBS has introduced include SwingVision and ProTracer.
For the third consecutive year, the leading score after the first round is a 5-under 66. Eventual 2015 winner Jim Furyk opened with a 71 last year. … Bryson DeChambeau shot a 1-under 71 with three birdies and two bogeys, a lipped out chip shot and several putts that nearly dropped and is tied for 25th … Jason Bohn posted a 3-over 74 and closed with a birdie on the ninth hole in his first round since suffering a heart attack during and/or following the second round of the Honda Classic in February.