Day in position to end eventful season on high note

By Rex HoggardAugust 30, 2014, 11:44 pm

NORTON, Mass. – In bullet-point fashion, Jason Day’s season has been a year of dramatic contrasts.

In order, he has won a World Golf Championship and endured three cortisone shots, a grip change, a bout with vertigo and the slings and arrows of the kind of internal dialogue that is always accompanied by a healthy dollop of doubt.

What began as a breakout season for the would-be world beater, punctuated by his victory at the Match Play Championship in February, cascaded into a collection of visits to the doctor’s office and more than 2 ½ months on the DL.

Pain and rehabilitation Day can deal with. He’s had plenty of practice in a career dotted with injuries ranging from his ankle to his wrist and now his thumb. What compounded the problem was all the free time that he suddenly had to endure.

Along the lines of idle hands and whatnot, Day spent a good amount of time lamenting his plight and wrestling with the predictable demons.

“The stress was tough. Just not knowing if you’re going to play again. Your mind wanders and you think, ‘Is this the end for me?’” Day said.

Deep stuff for a 26-year-old, but he has come by his anxiety honestly.

For weeks at a time, Day’s ailing left thumb refused to heal and with each passing checkup, the progress and long-term prognosis continued to stall until he decided to stop waiting and worrying.

Deutsche Bank Championship: Articles, videos and photos

Day hired a new conditioning coach who created a program to protect his fragile thumb. His swing coach, Col Swatton, had him weaken his grip to alleviate the pressure of repeated swings. Day’s “ball count” jumped from about 50 range balls a week before the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to nearly 500, and he opened with rounds of 69-65 at the PGA Championship on his way to a tie for 15th place. Two weeks later at The Barclays he held a share of the lead through 54 holes before finishing two shots behind eventual champion Hunter Mahan.

On a perfect fall Saturday at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Day stormed out early with a front-nine 31 and will take another lead into a playoff Sunday. Although he’s only midway through this event – which finishes on Monday – and it is Ryan Palmer who is tied with him atop the leaderboard, the reasons to be optimistic go well beyond his second-round scorecard.

That he’s playing PGA Tour golf, albeit not entirely pain-free, is reason to exhale. That he’s vying for his second title in as many weeks is something that he thought might never happen again.

“It’s a huge relief,” said Day, who led by as many as two strokes before making a mess of the par-5 18th hole on his way to a second-round 68.

It’s the kind of golf many expected from Day when he collected his second Tour title earlier this year at the WGC-Match Play and the kind of run that made him a can’t-miss prospect when he turned professional in 2006.

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson could be forgiven if he gave the Presidents Cup staple - an Ohio resident by way of Queensland, Australia - the nod on Tuesday with one of his wild-card picks. Day has everything a captain with too many options would want, except for the wrong passport to join the U.S. side in Scotland.

But as impressive as Day’s play has been the last month, it is his growing confidence that may vault him atop the FedEx Cup standings on Monday. After a season of doubt and doctors, the swagger, and a healthy bit of perspective, has returned.

“Sunday last week was the best I’ve ever seen on a Sunday,” Swatton said. “You could see he was confident.”

Always considered a singular talent, if there was a knock against Day before this season it was his play on Sundays when tournaments, often of the major championship variety, were on the line.

In a twisted way, Day’s bout with a bad thumb has seemed to put that second-guessing into perspective. After facing the possibility of life after golf, those 5-footers for birdie on the back nine with hardware hanging in the balance no longer seem to weigh as heavily on him.

Consider that on Sunday last week at The Barclays, Day played his last six holes in 2 under par and closed with a 68, which would normally give the 54-hole leader a better than average chance had it not been for Mahan’s heroics.

After contemplating the end for weeks at a time, it seems Day still has a few bullet items to add to what has already been an eventful season.

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."