Missing the Masters made Luke Donald's blood boil. The former world No. 1 channeled that anger to shoot his best round since January, a 5-under 66 at the RBC Heritage that left the Englishman tied with Branden Grace for the first-round lead Thursday.
The two were a stroke ahead of four players, including the world's current top-ranked player in Jason Day.
Day caught Donald and Grace at the top heading to Harbour Town Golf Links' closing, lighthouse hole. But he took an unplayable lie in a bunker when his ball bored into the sand and made his lone bogey to fall back.
Donald had been a major tournament mainstay since first playing Augusta National in 2005. However, he has fallen badly the past couple of seasons (he's 95th in the world ranking) and was forced to watch the Masters at home instead of playing for a green jacket.
Donald got going quickly with birdies on the second and third holes. He moved to 3 under with a birdie on No. 6. After his lone bogey on the par-4 eighth, Donald posted three more birdies on the back nine to break par for the 23rd time in his past 29 rounds at Harbour Town. He has had five top-three finishes the last seven tournaments here.
Most of the Masters' main characters took the week off, including new dad and major champion Danny Willett of England and Jordan Speith, whose unexpected collapse over the final nine holes after holding a five-shot lead opened the door for Willett.
Day, who tied for 10th at Augusta National, is the lone top-10 player competing.
Day tied for the lead with a birdie on the par-5 15th and had a chance to move on top by himself a hole later, but slid a 14-footer past the cup. The Australians' tee shot to the final hole was perfect and his approach seemed destined to strike the putting surface - until it didn't.
His ball buried into the sand by the bunker's front edge. Day looked a bit bewildered by the gaffe, then retrieved the ball and hit it close enough to hold off more damage.
Bryson DeChambeau, last year's NCAA and U.S. Amateur champion, played his first event as a pro at Harbour Town and opened with a 70.