By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- A fortuitous kick back into the fairway on the lucky 13th may have turned Jason Day's opening 18 at Liberty National around.
Day, who had started on the back nine, came to the par 5 already sitting at 1 over. He proceeded to drive it down the left side and the ball appeared to be heading toward the heavy grass -- but it kicked back out into the middle of the fairway where he hit a 2-iron to the collar and made the 34-footer for an eagle.
Day went on to par the 14th and then reeled off three straight birdies to jump to the top of the leaderboard at 4 under. Others passed him as Day played his second nine but the 66 left him in the hunt, and he looked back on what he called a "really lucky break" the 13th hole as the turning point.
"It was probably going to most likely be in the rough, may not be able to get home just because of the trees there, and I got a lucky kick out to the middle of the fairway," Day explained. "Hit a good 2-iron just left of the green there and holed the putt in from off the green, which was nice.
"So ... got me a good swing back to get the momentum back my way."
Day, who entered The Barclays ranked 14th in the FedExCup, was solid on the stop-and-start Thursday. He hit 11 of 14 fairways and all but four greens in regulation while using 26 putts.
"I played good today," the young Aussie said. "I think I gave myself a lot of opportunities out there for birdie. I capitalized on a lot of them, and overall, I'm very happy with where I started."
Day tied for 12th when The Barclays was last played at Liberty National in 2009. The 25-year-old, who finished eighth or better in three of the four majors this year, appears likely to make the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola for the third time in his career -- but he's looking for more.
"I think I really enjoy playing tough golf courses and I just enjoy playing against the best players in the world," Day said. "I think at the end of the day, I'm still trying to get No. 2 win and I'm trying my best as possibly I can out there to try and achieve that. I've had a really good season with the majors, and hopefully I can still carry that into the Playoffs."