Day wasn't worried about 'dry spell'

By Rex HoggardMarch 18, 2016, 7:03 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – There was no concern, no panic, no sense of urgency, just an innate understanding of the natural ebb and flow of his own competitive clock.

Jason Day, after all, has always done things at his own measured pace.

He earned his PGA Tour card in 2008 but needed two years to find a winner’s circle many thought would be a regular stop for the Australian prodigy.

He needed four more years to add title No. 2 and played in 20 majors before finally joining the Grand Slam club last year at the PGA Championship.

So when Day put the finishing touches on his breakthrough 2015 season with a tie for 10th at the Tour Championship last September he understandably took a little extra time to savor the moment.

By his own admission, during his three months “off” after East Lake, he put in about a month of net practice and started this year with something less than his A-game, posting just a single top-10 finish (Hyundai Tournament of Champions) in four starts. 

Yet even as writers opined and analysts lamented his slow start to 2016, Day remained patient, if not acutely aware of the armchair apprehension.

“Seems like you guys had concerns for me,” Day said on Friday at Bay Hill.

It’s the kind of attention that comes with winning major championships and moving to No. 1 in the world, however briefly, and Day would expect nothing less.

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“It’s tough to be in a position we’re in as top-ranked players because everyone is expecting you to do well. Everyone is always watching what you’re doing and critiquing what you’re doing,” Day said.

“It’s harder for us to go through a little bit of a dry spell, more so than the guy who is 125 on the FedEx Cup. I’m OK with that because it means I have to work harder because everyone is telling me I’m not playing well. I should be playing better because everyone is expecting me to play better.”

Day’s answer to all that noise has been absolute this week. On Friday he turned at 9 under and three strokes clear of the field, added three more birdies, signed for a 65 for a 13-under total and promptly was administered a drug test, because ... well, nothing says “random” like a five-stroke cushion through 54 holes.

Day’s play was even more impressive considering he’s never played well during the Tour’s Florida swing, an anomaly compounded by the fact he began his professional career living in a condo not 10 minutes from Bay Hill.

In 18 starts in the Sunshine State, not counting The Players, Day’s best finish is a tie for 17th last year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, an oddity Day’s caddie Colin Swatton attributes to the particular short-game demands of Bermuda rough.

It was why Day and Swatton exchanged a high-five when they arrived at Bay Hill this week to see thick, lush over-seeded rough that is more to the world No. 3’s liking.

But it’s not a more familiar grass or the inevitable reduction of rust that has fueled Day’s turnaround this week so much as it is the confidence born from near-flawless execution.

On Friday, he hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation and 11 of 14 fairways, and rolled in 125 feet of putts, perhaps none more impressive than a 36-footer for a closing birdie at the ninth hole (he started his day on No. 10) after a rare foul ball off the tee.

“I felt like I couldn't do anything wrong out there, which was good, and was driving it nice and was driving it really long,” said Day, who normally avoids such optimistic assessments of his own game. “I had several chances to hit a lot of greens and I putted fantastic today. To hole 125 feet of putts was fantastic.”

For Day, comfort equates to courageousness, like his bold blast from a greenside bunker at the sixth hole to 2 feet for birdie with nothing but trouble glaring back at him.

“When you're trying shots that you really haven't put in play before with water behind and things can possibly go wrong, that means it shows that I'm pretty confident with how I'm feeling out there,” Day said.

Day’s 66-65 start marks his best opening effort this year; his 13-under total would have won eight of the last nine tournaments at Bay Hill. He said his driving is close to where it was last year when he won four events in six starts including that first major at Whistling Straits.

“This is not an easy golf course and what he’s done is impressive,” said Zach Johnson, who was paired with Day for Rounds 1 and 2 this week.

Nor is Day’s play an accident.

Since he got back to work following the birth of his second child in the offseason, Day said he’s spent 3 ½ hours a day on his short game, 3 hours on his long game and another hour in the gym.

That’s every day, and that’s why despite a collective concern over his slow start to 2016 he was never worried.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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