Jason Day, Phil Mickelson among early leaders at Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Jason Day follows his shot from the 16th fairway of the Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course during the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, in Pebble Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) Eric Risberg/Associated Press

Jason Day, Phil Mickelson among early leaders at Pebble Beach Pro-Am

PGA Tour

Jason Day, Phil Mickelson among early leaders at Pebble Beach Pro-Am

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Jason Day had quite a day at Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore Course.

Not that that is a surprise.

While some of the most expensive real estate surrounds the two courses at the club, Day has an ownership stake, so to speak. Since 2010 no one has played the course better in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am than Day, and he added to his good fortune on the Shore layout in Thursday’s first round.

With a 6-under-par 65 on a crisp, pleasing day, he shared top honors among the early finishers with four-time Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner Phil Mickelson, who also shot 65 at the Shore. Cody Gribble grabbed a share of the lead as well with a 6-under-par 66 at Spyglass Hill.

A stroke back were Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Keith Mitchell – who played the Shore Course – and Branden Grace, who was at Pebble Beach.

Hosung Choi, a two-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour whose extravagant body English after every shot made him an internet sensation, came back after a poor start. With three birdies in his last eight holes, Choi shot 72 at the Shore Course.

Defending champion Ted Potter, Jr., who held off Johnson, Day, Mickelson and Chez Reavie to win by three last year, shot 82 at Spyglass Hill.

Day has never approached 80 on the Shore Course and always feels comfortable on the immaculate layout. He has the best scoring average – 66.4 – on the course during the tournament since 2010 (minimum of four rounds played).

“I love this golf course here,” Day said. “It definitely fits my eye, just off the tee. I hit a lot of good quality drives off the tee today that set me up. I wasn’t just hitting it down the middle, I was able to pick which side I was going to hit down the fairways. Obviously with how soft the fairways are you can kind of pick either left or right side, get yourself the correct angle coming in the green.”

Day said it was imperative to get off to a good start. The players will likely have to shrug off foul weather heading toward the Monterey Peninsula. The present state of the three courses is on the soggy side and the forecast calls for a few more storms Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“When you have four or five layers on, over the next few days with a lot of wind and rain, that’s very hard to play some good golf because obviously the balls start right because of the water, and things get a little bit tougher that way,” Day said.

Spieth, who hasn’t won since the 2017 Open Championship and hasn’t had a top-20 since last year’s Open Championship, took advantage of the pleasant conditions and made birdie on two of his final three holes to move up the leaderboard.

“If you don’t score well out here you put yourself kind of behind a bit and it’s tough to make up when we got weather coming in because you’re trying to force it,” Spieth said. “I don’t feel like I need to force anything tomorrow.”

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