The PlayersMay 12, 2016

How Jason Day's "bad memory" helped him make an 18-shot improvement at TPC Sawgrass

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 12:  Jason Day of Australia reacts on the 15th green during the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship at the TPC Stadium course on May 12, 2016 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 12: Jason Day of Australia reacts on the 15th green during the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship at the TPC Stadium course on May 12, 2016 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Jason Day recalls the score from his previous round at the Players, but not much else.

"I think I played with Tiger and Jordan, maybe. I might be lying," he said before being told his playing partners were actually Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

But how did he shoot 81?

"I can't really remember," Day said. "I've got a really bad memory, which is kind of a good thing in golf, I guess, where you don't really remember the bad stuff as much. But yeah, I really can't remember too much."

He'll likely remember more from Thursday's opening round. Day torched TPC Sawgrass for a 63 to tie the course record and grab a two-shot lead at the Players.

The 18-shot swing between rounds at the Stadium Course is remarkable, but then again, so is the improvement the Aussie has made in the 12 months in between. Day arrived at TPC Sawgrass last year as the seventh-ranked golfer in the world. After his missed cut and another missed cut at the Memorial, Day fell to No. 10. But despite all the talk about golf's new Big 3, Day arrived at the Players as the sport's clear No. 1.

Since last year's mid-season struggles, Day has won six times, including his first major at the PGA Championship where he also broke the scoring record in major championships with his 20-under total at Whistling Straits. Day took apart that Pete Dye track with his driver, but TPC Sawgrass demands more patience off the tee. Day only hit six drivers while racking up nine birdies against no bogeys to better his previous best score on the course by five shots.

"You just never know until it happens," Day said. "I knew that I could -- the way I was feeling, the way I was playing, I knew that I could shoot a good score, especially with how the greens were so receptive today. They were really nice, holding on a lot of shots."

Day's score tied the course record shared by Fred Couples (1992), Greg Norman (1994), Roberto Castro (2013) and Martin Kaymer (2014). Day was particularly pleased to match his countryman Norman, but he hopes to also copy the rest of the Shark's week in 1994 when he set the tournament scoring record at 24 under.

"Yeah, I would have loved to shoot 10 under and be the only guy to hold that record, but I'm in pretty good company with the guys that have shot that, especially with Greg Norman and the way he played shooting 63 and three straight 67s," Day said.

Maybe Day's memory is better than he's letting on.

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