JEJU ISLAND, South Korea -- 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.
Day is hoping Els will chose him as a captain's pick for the International team against the Tiger Woods-captained U.S. team in December at Royal Melbourne.
"Overall, it's a great start," Day said. "I'm excited for the rest of the week."
He said before his first round that he was still hoping for a Presidents Cup spot.
"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.
"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 sand-belt (courses) and Royal Melbourne in the past."
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.
"Overall a good way to start. I felt I played a lot better than my score," Thomas said. "Anytime you play where you've won before, it creates a lot of good memories."
There are 78 players in the no-cut, limited-field event.
The top-ranked Koepka stirred some controversy on Wednesday when he pointed out that Rory McIlroy, his closest challenger for the No. 1 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 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."