For Jason Day and Rickie Fowler, there was nothing pretty about Thursday at Torrey Pines except the weather.
It was gorgeous along the bluffs that bump up against the Pacific Ocean with temperatures in the mid-60s, the wind just a whisper and hardly a cloud to be found, conditions that are expected to be long gone Sunday when the big wind and rain are forecast to arrive.
If Day and Fowler don’t have better Fridays than their Thursdays turned out to be, neither is likely to be around for the weekend.
Day, the No. 2 player in the world, was a game-time decision due to an illness that has laid him low for a few days. The defending champion shot even-par 72 on the easier North Course in a ragged performance that reflected the way he apparently felt.
“He said he felt not bad. He had a lot of nasal congestion, his ears are blocked and he physically had no energy,” Day’s caddie Colin Swatton said. “We talked about (withdrawing). The last couple of days we’ve gone back and forth. He wants to play. He’s the defending champion.”
Day hit just three of 14 fairways Thursday, and Swatton said he could see Day tiring as the round wore on.
Fowler, No. 4 in the world, wouldn’t use fatigue as an excuse though he won in Abu Dhabi on Sunday then flew 17 hours to Southern California. Fowler’s 1-over par 73 on the North Course snapped a streak of 19 consecutive rounds of par or better and included four bogeys.
“Terrible. I think that sums it up pretty easily. It was just bad golf,” Fowler said.
No more explanation needed, according to Fowler.
“Just golf,” he said. “I made some good swings out there. Made some bad ones. But yeah, it was like my ball was scared of the hole or something.”
It went better for others as the leaderboard showed, with 33 players breaking 70 with Scott Brown and Andrew Loupe leading the way with matching 66s.