Cameron Davis tied with Jason Day as the leading Australian – file photo Bruce Young
The five man Australian contingent have all started well at the Vivint Houston Open at the Memorial Park Golf Course in the inner suburbs of Houston, Cameron Davis and Jason Day the best of them after their opening rounds of 3 under par 67 shared 2nd place, two behind the leader Brandt Snedeker.
Adam Scott and Greg Chalmers are at 2 under 68 while former champion, Matt Jones, opened with a round of 69.
A homeward nine of 30 was just the tonic Day was looking for after a being forced to withdraw from the tournament at Shadow Creek two starts ago and a horror start to his round today when he reached the turn in 2 over 37.
Five birdies in his last seven holes saw him get within two of the lead and with just couple of groups remaining on the course after play was suspended due to darkness, he is well placed ahead of an early start on day two.
Day enjoyed the opportunity to have at least some fans back on the golf course today.
“It was actually really nice,” he said after his round referring to the maximum of 2500 fans allowed to spectate at this municipal golf course in the hear of Houston.
“It was something that I think a lot of us have been waiting for and hoping for and it was nice to be able to see. I mean, we only had like 2,500 I think in today, but it felt like a lot.
“Overall, very happy to be out playing in front of fans. Playing with Phil (Mickelson) is always a treat, and Viktor (Hovland) as well, but when you’re playing with Phil you usually get a few fans and seemed like we had a nice grouping today.”
Davis continues to improve in the relatively early stages of his PGA Tour career and after he too had struggled through the front nine he powered home with four birdies for a closing nine of 31 to be tied for 2nd at 3 under.
Davis later described the demands of this newly renovated layout.
“So I think it’s already quite long, but it’s more the firmness of the greens. If you’re not in the fairway, you can’t really hold them, so driving becomes very important. You go drive it down there a long way so you can spin it.
“It’s just the ability to get the ball near the hole, and the penalty for just missing on the wrong side becomes really big because the ball just rolls away.
“It’s been a while since I’ve played a course on Tour that’s really done that and it’s great, it reminds me a lot of back in Australia. So it does have a nice feel to it, but it just means that your ball-striking’s just got to be really on.
Scott an encouraging return after dealing with Covid 19 issues – file photo Getty
Scott, another former winner of the event, performed well following his enforced layoff after being diagnosed with Covid 19 virus three weeks ago.
“Obviously my golf preparations have taken a bit of a setback the last few weeks. Having not played since the U.S. Open, I was trying to get some golf in at ZOZO and here before the Masters, not only not getting ZOZO in, not getting any practice in for those 10 days either is a little setback, but I’ve actually come out swinging good this week and at least feel fresh. Hopefully that works in my favour.
“I was surprised (by the diagnosis). I had no symptoms at the time I tested positive, but I developed some symptoms about 12 hours after I tested positive and I had a slight fever for 24 hours and a headache and then that kind of passed.
“Then I continued to get better. Yeah, I had to isolate. I was in the hotel there in L.A. for six days. Once I was sure I was healthy and not kind of just feeling okay, I investigated finding a house by myself for the next four or five days to isolate just so I could go outside and get some fresh air. So I drove myself to a house. And again, didn’t have any contact with anyone until my 10 days of isolation was up.”
Chalmers recovered from an opening double bogey at the demanding first hole to turn in even par and was home in 33 for a round of 68 while Jones has only 15 players ahead of him after his opening 69.