Patience pays off for Jason Day at Royal Birkdale

Jason Day went out in even-par 34 on Royal Birkdale's front nine. He came home in 1-under-par 35 to shoot 69 in Round 1 of the 146th Open. Andy Buchanan/AFP Photo

SOUTHPORT, England -- The grinding is beginning to pay dividends for Jason Day. Prior to his first round at the 146th Open Championship, the 29-year-old insisted that if he maintained discipline and patience, the results would unfold at their own pace.

And around the turn on Thursday, that is just what happened.

"You know what? Midway through my round I just felt great," he said after posting an opening lap of 1-under-par 69, four shots back of the lead shared by Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Matt Kuchar.

"I suddenly started seeing the shots come out exactly the way I wanted to. It's not going to come out perfect every single time, but I'm definitely gaining a lot of confidence."

Day swapped four birdies for three bogeys and confessed that a peculiarity of the course threw him late in the round.

"It was kind of hard because for the most part I hit irons [from the tee] going up to the 15th," he reported. "And then you pull driver out and it feels foreign because you just haven't used it for a while. I hit three poor drives going up 15, 16, 17. Got myself out of position on all those holes, and I should have got shots back there, but I made a good putt on 18 for birdie, which was a nice way to finish."

Having enjoyed fine conditions on Thursday, Day is prepared for the forecast of high wind during Round 2.

"The main goal is to be in contention come Sunday, and there's a lot of golf to be played yet," said Day, who is ranked sixth in the world. "I do feel like I play better in worse weather, but saying that, I really don't want to walk around in the rain tomorrow in 35 mph wind. But if I have to, I have to. That's just what you have to do to try to win The Open Championship."

Sitting alongside Day on 1-under are fellow Australians Marc Leishman, Aaron Baddeley and Adam Scott. Baddeley was one of only 14 players in the field to make birdie on the brutal 448-yard par-4 first hole on his way to breaking 70 for the first time in eight Open Championship appearances.

New Zealander Ryan Fox's stunning run of form is under threat after a 4-over 74. He finished top-six in the French, Irish and Scottish Opens during the past three weeks, but he will have the weekend off if he cannot fix his tee box woes -- he hit just two of 14 fairways on Thursday.