After watching fellow Australian Adam Scott win the 2013 Masters despite being in the top 10 themselves, Jason Day and Marc Leishman had some unfinished business on the golf course.
Both men brought it to the first round of the 2013 RBC Heritage on Thursday afternoon at Hilton Head Island, eager to put the first major of the year behind them with a win in the following weekend.
Leishman and Day are the most notable names near the top of the leaderboard so far, currently co-captained by Brian Davis and Charley Hoffman at six-under.
Take a look at the leaderboard and some of the early-round action as the PGA Tour's best try to come down off the emotional high from the final round at Augusta. With a $5.8 million purse on the line, it might be easier than you think.
RBC Heritage 2013 Day 1 Leaderboard
|T7||Bo Van Pelt||-3|
Note: 11 other golfers are tied for 7th at three-under.
*For a complete look at the Day 1 leaderboard, check out PGATour.com.
The story of the week so far in Hilton Head has been Brian Davis, who will sit atop the leaderboard at six-under heading into Day 2.
Davis played even golf thru the first three holes, before a bogey on No. 4 looked to get his day off to a rough start that would be hard to overcome.
Davis stormed back with eight birdies over his next 14 holes, including a streak of six in seven holes before dropping a shot at No. 12. He would finish the round strong, though, by avoiding any other bogeys and dropping this putt on No. 18 to head to the clubhouse as the leader:
Behind him, Charley Hoffman and Kevin Streelman both played nice rounds on Thursday, each hitting six birdies but dropping a shot in the process.
Hoffman, who finished tied for eighth at this event in 2012 and tied for third at the Valero Texas Open the weekend before the Masters, continued his recent string of solid golf—characterized with this highlight from No. 13:
After both finished in the top five at Augusta, it was clear that Day and Leishman had bittersweet feelings about watching countryman Scott win the green jacket. Day had a chance to stay in contention late, but dropped a shot on No. 17 and ended up finishing third. Leishman finished tied for fourth with Tiger Woods.
Which Australian will finish higher at the RBC Heritage?
Showing no ill-effects from that letdown, the pair both played error-free golf on Thursday and wind up in the mix yet again at Harbour Town, both at four-under and tied with Johnson Wagner on the board. Day is a noted fast-riser on the Tour, but we'll see if Leishman can keep up his stellar play again after an inspired performance at Augusta.
Rounding out the more notable leaders within striking distance of leader Davis are Bo Van Pelt, Pat Perez, Carl Pettersson, Webb Simpson, Tim Clark and Hunter Mahan—all at three-under.
While somewhat devoid of top Tour talent with golfers like Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Scott and Lee Westwood, some of the guys that had poor outings at Augusta have teed it up again at Harbour Town with vindication on the line.
That group includes Simpson and Graeme McDowell—who both missed the cut at Augusta—Luke Donald, Jim Furyk, Martin Kaymer, Matt Kuchar, Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker, who was leading at the Masters heading into the final round with Angel Cabrera but faltered after a crucial par putt on No. 10 didn't find the bottom of the cup.
Before the round started, Snedeker made it clear that he was ready to get back to business this weekend at the site of one of his 2011 Tour victories (h/t PGA.com).
The American, still fifth in the World Golf Rankings after a Top 10 finish at Augusta, comes into the tournament as the highest-rated player on the FedEx points list (second). He didn't play it and finished at two-over for the day with a 73—a clear eight strokes back of the leader.
Pettersson, the defending champion of the RBC Heritage, is in contention yet again, as he clearly likes playing in South Carolina. The 35-year-old Swede had seven birdies around four bogeys on Thursday, and will finish his opening round two strokes better (68) than he did when winning in 2012.
Other notable golfers in play include Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and John Daly. Daly, never one to be shy about his outfit, had a real Rickie Fowler-vibe to his attire on Thursday afternoon (h/t RBC Heritage on Twitter):
Daly finished at even par with a 71.
Other highlights included Van Pelt, who finished at tied for 20th at the Masters, getting off to a good start. Here's a look at his birdie from No. 9:
Perez hasn't finished higher than tied for seventh at a tournament this season, but he's also in position to strike over the last three rounds, in large part because of shots like this one on No. 4. Perez had eight birdies on the day but was victimized by a double-bogey on the par-five fifth:
Some golfers at the tournament are playing with a heavy heart this week, including Massachusetts native James Driscoll, where the Boston Marathon tragedy hits close to home.
Driscoll has pledged $1,000 for every birdie he makes this weekend (h/t Associated Press via New York Times), and he got off to a good start on Thursday, hitting four birdies in a quality effort. He finished at three-over for the round, but hopefully will spark other pros to help out in the efforts around Boston.
Overall, the action was at a steady pace on Thursday. The normal stars aren't around to carry the media coverage, but this is an important event with respect to the FedEx Cup and many golfers that have new fans after the Masters are in the field again.
It should be an exciting week in Hilton Head, and with a seven-figure purse on the line for both the field and the winner, things should get interesting quickly atop the leaderboard after Friday afternoon's Round 2.
*All highlights courtesy of PGATour.com.