SYDNEY (AP) — Jason Day’s first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day’s round came unhinged late with a double-bogey six on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn’t get up and down.


”That was brutal,” Day said of the 440-meter hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

”It was a pretty solid round, I didn’t miss many fairways, I didn’t miss many greens,” Day said. ”I’d give myself a seven or eight out of 10. I think it’s definitely out there to shoot a deep one, but that’s kind of the thing, you almost need to come out and capitalize when there’s no wind.”

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to an inconsistent start in the afternoon when the winds were picking up. He bogeyed his first two holes, had two birdies then added another bogey over his first six holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

”Everything went to plan,” Davis said. ”I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.”

NOTES: Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 172-meter 11th, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day … Day’s mother, Dening, who is recovering from lung cancer surgery, followed him around the course. ”It’s great to see her out and looking healthy, because at the start of the year it didn’t look so well. I haven’t been able to play in front of her a lot as a professional … so it would be really nice to be able to try and win this one for her.” [/restrict]