Scott and Day both navigated the tricky TPC Sawgrass layout in 3-under 69, good for a share of 28th position, but for Scott it is his putting statistics he will take most heart from.
The 2013 Masters winner is desperately trying to qualify for next month’s US Open and gaining more than two shots on the field in the critical Strokes Gained Putting category, using a long putter with an unanchored stroke, in round one will have buoyed his confidence in that endeavour.
Scott is one of six Australians to qualify for golf’s fifth most important tournament alongside Day, Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman, Rod Pampling and Geoff Ogilvy.
It was a mixed bag of results for the group with Marc Leishman the only other Australian in red figures.
The Victorian signed for a 1-under 71 courtesy of three birdies and two bogeys, a drive into the water on his final hole a disappointing way to finish.
Six bogeys against four birdies saw Rod Pampling to a 2-over 74 while Cameron Smith endured six bogeys and a double at the treacherous par-3 17th on his way to a 76.
Geoff Ogilvy also rinsed his tee shot at the famed island green and eventually posted a 78 to be near the tail of the field.
Scott’s return to the long putter wasn’t the only retro move he made for the opening round, the 13-time Tour winner also switching drivers to a model released eight years ago.
While regarded as having one of the best swings in the game, the 37-year-old has been struggling with driving accuracy much of the year and played the opening round with a Titleist 910D3 from 2010.
The switch did little to improve his accuracy with just 57 per cent of fairways found but he left himself in playable places as he found more than 70 per cent of the greens.
Teeing off the 10th, Scott started strong with four birdies in his opening seven holes but cooled with bogeys at 18 and four before a brilliant birdie at the long par-3 8th to finish.
Day also started well with back-to-back birdies at the second and third but gave both shots back before the turn to head to the back nine even par.
However, he showed his trademark tenacity on the inward journey with four birdies against a lone bogey as he bids for a second Players Championship crown.
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