Jason Day took charge of The Players Championship 2016 on Thursday with a 9-under 63 at a vulnerable Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. That 63 tied the tournament course record and gave him a two-shot edge over five players heading into Round 2.
However, what Day did on Thursday isn’t really anything new — at least in the recent memory of The Players. Day became the third player in the last four years to set the Day 1 Players pace with 63. Roberto Castro shocked the golf world with an opening 63 in 2013 before finishing T-19 after a second-round 78 undid his chances. A year later, Martin Kaymer opened with 63 and held on in a battle with Jordan Spieth to win the title. Then, after 67 was the first-round watermark in 2015, Day came out on a morning where there was little wind and receptive greens, and he posted 63.
Two other players have managed to turn in 63 at The Players. The amazing thing is that there wasn’t a single Players round of 63 in the 2000s. Fred Couples first shot 63 at the Stadium Course in Round 3 in 1992, finishing T-17. Then in 1994, Greg Norman opened The Players with 63 en route to a tournament-record 24-under total.
In other words, things look good for Day to win The Players. With no offense intended to Roberto Castro, he’s not in the company of multiple major winners Norman and Kaymer, who did manage to finish off the unofficial Fifth Major when they opened with 63.