Commentary

Day overcomes sickness to share lead

Updated: May 21, 2010, 11:39 AM ET
By Randy Jennings | Special to ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Jason Day, co-leader of the suspended first round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship, came close to pulling out of the event before hitting a shot.

The 22-year-old Australian-born Fort Worth resident bent over to pick up his umbrella on the driving range early Thursday morning and very nearly headed for the car.

Antibiotics for a chronic sinus infection cause him to feel queasy.

"I was close to probably pulling out," Day said. "I felt like getting in the car and driving back home, but I thought about it again and decided to come play, and it was probably a good idea."

Day's six birdies (none on par 5s) were marred only by bogeys on the finishing holes of each nine. His 66 was matched by Joe Durant later in the afternoon at the par-70 TPC Four Seasons Resort. Three others, Steve Elkington, Hunter Mahan and Jarrod Lyle, were at 4-under when play was suspended at 8:30 p.m.

Completion of the first round was set to begin at 7:15 a.m. Friday and the second round will follow.

A weather delay of almost four hours near the midpoint in Day's round turned out to be a blessing.

"I just kind of sat down and rested, drinking some water," he said.

His recovery from a wayward drive on No. 1 (his 10th hole) was a mid-round spark. He hooked his drive 40 yards left of the fairway on a cart path near a fence.

"I don't think any player has been over there but me," he said.

His 205-yard 5-iron second shot off a worn downhill lie reached the greenside bunker, and he went on to hole a six-foot putt for par.

Peggy Nelson stays upbeat

Tournament week is a happy occasion for Peggy Nelson, who addressed the media in her tournament volunteer uniform during a break packing sandwiches Thursday.

The wife of the tournament's namesake said she decided after Byron Nelson's death in 2006 that she "didn't want to go down that sad road."

Peggy has written a book ("Life with Lord Byron") so that people will come to know her husband was an even better person in private life than people knew.

While some have criticized the dwindling number of top players at the tournament since her husband's death, Peggy Nelson defended the field.

"I really understand with all of the prize money out there and with their family obligations and other things they have to do, they cannot be expected to play every week everywhere.

"We have full field of mostly millionaires, I think, and they're all great golfers," she said.

Usual weather

For years, the joke was if you wanted to fertilize your lawn, wait for the week of the Byron Nelson, because rain and bad weather was a sure bet.

But it is a reputation that hasn't held water the last few years. Thursday's opening-round weather delay was the first for the tournament since 2003.

• The weather delay might have taken a toll on 48-year-old Brad Faxon. Four strokes under par after 11 holes, Faxon finished with back-to-back bogeys on the way to a 69.

It has been five years since Faxon's last win. He has made only eight cuts in his last 34 Tour events, going to 2008. But he said he is just feeling healthy again following knee surgery late in 2007.

"From the standpoint of knowing where the shot is going to go, every week, I've been a little bit better," Faxon said.

Eagles lift round

Joe Durant's eagle-eagle-birdie finish gave him a share of the first-round lead. Durant sank a 25-putt eagle putt on the par-5 No. 7, holed a 180-yard 6-iron second shot on the par-4 No. 8 and sank an 11-foot birdie putt on No. 9, his final hole of the day.

Durant's previous brush with back-to-back eagles came 29 years ago at the Dixie Derby in Florida when he was 16.

Champ off pace

Defending champion and Fort Worth resident Rory Sabbatini called his opening-round 68 "pretty dismal." He hit only 3-of-14 fairways but saved his round by requiring just 26 putts.

"Anybody would have been completely baffled as to how I shot 2-under," he said.

• Dustin Johnson, who opened with a 67, said TPC Four Seasons sets up well for his game. A big reason: he reads the greens well.

"And if I'm putting well I'm going to usually play pretty good, especially when I'm driving it straight, and I feel like I drive it pretty well here."

The 25-year-old South Carolina native tied for fourth at last year's Nelson.

•  Scott Verplank, 2007 Nelson champion, had a two-birdie, two-bogey round of 70 in vastly contrasting conditions.

"It was different playing before the delay," Verplank said. "The winds were blowing maybe 20 to 25 [mph] and it was tough to hold steady on putts. After the delay, there wasn't as much wind and things were a little calmer."

Following in footsteps

James Nitties was born in Australia, but he is all Dallas nowadays, from his residence in Uptown (close enough to walk to concerts at the American Airlines Center) to the choice of his golf hero, 58-year-old Dallas resident Bruce Lietzke.

Why Lietzke?

"He's a guy that used to play golf to make enough money so that he could take the rest of the year off," Nitties said. "When I get a week off, I get as far away from golf as I can."

There's a golf similarity, too. Like Lietzke, a 13-time Tour winner, Nitties plays a "massive" cut.

Nitties said he hasn't met Lietzke, but he hinted he'd like to play a practice round with him at the Crown Plaza Colonial Invitational at Colonial.

• With three holes remaining in his first round, Mahan is 4-under. "I'm just trying to be aggressive, take it to the golf course instead of the course taking it to me," said the Colleyville resident.

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