JEJU ISLAND, South Korea (AP) Jason Day's attempt to impress International team captain Ernie Els for a spot at the Presidents Cup took a positive turn on Thursday when the Australian shot a 6-under 66 to sit two strokes off the lead after the opening round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges.
In the first event of a three-tournament PGA Tour swing through Asia, Byeong Hun An was the first-round leader with a 64 with Joaquin Niemann a stroke behind in second. Day was alone in third place.
Day is hoping Els will chose him as a captain's pick for the International team against the Tiger Woods-captained U.S. side in December at Royal Melbourne.
''It is certainly disappointing not to make the team on my own merits. But it is a reminder that nothing is given to you in this game,'' Day said ahead of his first round.
''I certainly want to be on the team and believe I can be an asset to the Internationals. Being in my home country certainly gives me an edge and I've had some success on the sandbelt (courses) and Royal Melbourne in the past.''
Defending champion Brooks Koepka shot a 69 Thursday with an eagle on the 18th, his final hole, Last year's runner-up Gary Woodland had a 71.
Justin Thomas, who won the inaugural 2017 CJ Cup, shot 68 and Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth each shot 70. Spieth is looking to end a lengthy drought - he hasn't won since the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale, a span of 54 tournaments worldwide.
Kevin Na, who won in a playoff in Las Vegas two weeks ago, had a 72 and Sergio Garcia 73.
There are 78 players are in the no-cut, limited-field event.
No. 1-ranked Koepka stirred some controversy on Wednesday when he pointed out that Rory McIlroy, his closest challenger for the top ranking, hasn't won a major since the American joined the PGA Tour in 2015. He was responding to a question about a rivalry between the pair.
''I'm not looking at anybody behind me. I'm No.1 number one in the world,'' Koepka said. ''I've got open road in front of me I'm not looking in the rearview mirror, so I don't see it as a rivalry. I've been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn't won a major since I've been on the PGA Tour.''
More AP golf: https://apnews.com/apf-Golf and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports