NORTON, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Red-hot Jason Day kept his spectacular run of form going as he moved into contention for the Deutsche Bank Championship on Friday as world number two Jordan Spieth struggled for a second week in a row.
Day, seeking a fourth PGA Tour victory in five starts to strengthen his grip at the top of the FedExCup standings, carded a three-under-par 68 on a tricky day for scoring at the TPC Boston to end the first round one stroke off the early lead.
The 27-year-old Australian, who won the opener in the lucrative four-event playoff series by six shots at The Barclays last week, birdied five of his first 13 holes to set the tournament pace before slipping back with two late bogeys.
England’s former world number one Luke Donald, precariously placed at 87th in the FedExCup standings coming into this week, picked up three shots in his last seven holes to shoot a 67 and share the lead with American Colt Knost.
FedExCup points leader and PGA Championship winner Day was at three under, level with Americans Gary Woodland and Ryan Palmer
Masters and U.S. Open champion Spieth, who missed the cut at The Barclays last week after struggling with his driving and wedge play, endured similar problems at the TPC Boston as he piled up eight bogeys and four birdies in an opening 75.
That left him a distant eight strokes off the early pace and the 22-year-old Texan, clearly frustrated, declined to speak to the media after signing his card.
Northern Irish world number one Rory McIlroy, back on the PGA Tour after skipping The Barclays last week, got to three under in breezy conditions at the TPC Boston before bogeying his last two holes for a 70.
”I felt like I hit the ball very well,“ McIlroy told reporters. ”These greens are probably the fastest I have putted on in a while.
“I was hitting the ball a little bit too hard at times and under-reading them ... I just need to adjust to that.”
British Open champion Zach Johnson and Swede Henrik Stenson, who sit fifth and fourth respectively in the FedExCup standings, were among the late starters on Friday.
The top 70 players on the FedExCup points list after the Deutsche Bank advance to the Sept. 17-20 BMW Championship in Lake Forest, Illinois where the leading 30 will qualify for the Tour Championship finale in Atlanta the following week.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue