Now No. 1, Day finally stands 'on top of the Earth'

By Rex HoggardSeptember 22, 2015, 7:20 pm

ATLANTA – Colin Swatton can remember the moment with impressive clarity given that memories tend to fade with time and the seemingly mundane conversation occurred nearly a decade ago.

It was the afternoon when Jason Day, a then-16-year-old wunderkind, wandered into Swatton’s office at Kooralbyn International School with a curious question for even the most accomplished professionals at the time.

“Do you think I can get to world No. 1?” Day asked.

Consider at that moment Tiger Woods held the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking by a commanding margin, nearly two average ranking points over Ernie Els, and that Day – who Swatton now concedes wasn’t even his most talented student at Kooralbyn, a sports-specific institution just outside of Brisbane, Australia – was fresh off his most high-profile victory at the World Junior Championship at Torrey Pines.

“I was taken back by it, to be honest,” Swatton said on Monday. “For him to come in and ask, I had to respect the question and I honestly believed he could be No. 1.”

Swatton explained that it wasn’t Day’s considerable skills that led him to that conclusion as much as it was the young Australian’s drive and a work ethic that bordered on the obsessive.

Given a task, Day would apply a single-minded focus that required constant supervision, or risk the prodigy overworking and reaching a point of diminishing returns.

On Monday, Swatton texted Day his recollections from that encounter at Kooralbyn in 2004 just after he’d confirmed on the Internet what everyone already knew, that with his commanding victory at the BMW Championship, Day had finally arrived at No. 1.

“It’s everything,” Swatton said, when asked what the World Ranking math finally added up to for Day. “It’s the belief that trust and work ethic and a combination of everything, to know that if you get a path and stay the course you can accomplish anything.”

It’s even more rewarding considering that the path Day took from Kooralbyn to a spot one-tenth of a point clear of No. 2 Jordan Spieth was winding and wildly uncertain.

He needed two years on the PGA Tour to record his first victory, and when he began 2015 at No. 8 in the world, he wasn’t even the highest-ranked Australian; that honor belonged to Adam Scott.

But throughout injury, a litany of ailments too numerous to repeat, and indifferent play in the clutch, the pinnacle as defined by Day remained the same, so much so that he caused a collection golf scribes to recoil earlier this year when he said getting to No. 1 in the world would be more meaningful to him than winning a major.

Maybe that changed when he finally broke through the major ceiling in August at the PGA Championship, one of four victories he’s recorded on Tour in his last six starts, but the tune sounded familiar on Sunday at Conway Farms.

For the better part of a month, Day tried, as best he could, to pretend that ascending the world ranking was little more than a byproduct of all the hard work he’d logged over the years. But, in truth, it was essentially a psychological study in self-preservation.

“I've been in here the last four days, but it's been very, very difficult for me to try and downplay getting to No. 1, because I've really wanted to reach this goal for a very long time now,” he said on Sunday at the BMW, following his six-stroke victory.

Comparing his victory at Whistling Straits, where Day was overcome by emotion on the 72nd hole, to how things transpired on Sunday at the BMW was also difficult, the competitive equivalent of an apples-to-kiwifruit comparison.

Winning major championships has always been the measuring stick for those who ply the trade at the highest level.

Woods rarely talks about his cumulative 683 weeks atop the ranking, just as Phil Mickelson doesn’t lament, as least publically, his inability to ever scale the mountain.

For Woods, it’s always been Jack Nicklaus and those 18 major championships that set the benchmark for greatness. They acted as a ready reminder attached to the wall of his childhood room.

But the kid from Kooralbyn is wired differently when it comes to quantifiable greatness. For Day, and those of his generation growing up in Australia, it was Greg Norman who served the role of role model, and while The Shark's status as a major champion is impressive given his history of heartbreak, perhaps it’s simply a coping technique that Day would prefer to the top spot in the world ranking, which Norman held for 331 weeks during his Hall of Fame career.

“I just always had a vision of me standing on top of the Earth when I was a kid and knowing that right now there's no one on this planet that's better than me, that's pretty cool,” Day said.

“That out of all the golfers that are in the world playing right now, that I'm the best. It's such a good feeling. That's kind of what I was thinking back when I was a little kid.”

That “kid” who grew up idolizing Norman and those 331 weeks atop the world could appreciate like few others another text message exchange on Monday.

“Greg texted me and said, ‘Congratulations. Now do it for 332 weeks.’ That was really cool,” Swatton said.

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Singh's lawsuit stalls as judge denies motion

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 7:54 pm

Vijay Singh’s attempts to speed up the proceedings in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour have been stalled, again.

Singh – who filed the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court in May 2013 claiming the Tour recklessly administered its anti-doping program when he was suspended, a suspension that was later rescinded – sought to have the circuit sanctioned for what his attorneys argued was a frivolous motion, but judge Eileen Bransten denied the motion earlier this month.

“While the court is of the position it correctly denied the Tour’s motion to argue, the court does not agree that the motion was filed in bad faith nor that it represents a ‘persistent pattern of repetitive or meritless motions,’” Bransten said.

It also doesn’t appear likely the case will go to trial any time soon, with Bransten declining Singh’s request for a pretrial conference until a pair of appeals that have been sent to the court’s appellate division have been decided.

“What really should be done is settle this case,” Bransten said during the hearing, before adding that it is, “unlikely a trail will commence prior to 2019.”

The Tour’s longstanding policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation, but earlier this month commissioner Jay Monahan was asked about the lawsuit.

“I'll just say that we're going through the process,” Monahan said. “Once you get into a legal process, and you've been into it as long as we have been into it, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to run it until the end.”

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Videos and images from Tiger's Tuesday at Torrey

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 7:45 pm

Tiger Woods played a nine-hole practice round Tuesday at Torrey Pines South, site of this week's Farmers Insurance Open. Woods is making his first PGA Tour start since missing the cut in this event last year. Here's a look at some images and videos of Tiger, via social media:

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Power Rankings: 2018 Farmers Insurance Open

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:59 pm

The PGA Tour remains in California this week for the Farmers Insurance Open. A field of 156 players will tackle the North and South Courses at Torrey Pines, with weekend play exclusively on the South Course.

Be sure to join the all-new Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge - including a new One & Done game offering - to compete for prizes and form your own leagues, and log on to to submit your picks for this week's event.

Jon Rahm won this event last year by three shots over Charles Howell III and C.T. Pan. Here are 10 names to watch in La Jolla:

1. Jon Rahm: No need to overthink it at the top. Rahm enters as a defending champ for the first time, fresh off a playoff win at the CareerBuilder Challenge that itself was preceded by a runner-up showing at Kapalua. Rahm is perhaps the hottest player in the field, and with a chance to become world No. 1 should be set for another big week.

2. Jason Day: The Aussie has missed the cut here the last two years, and he hasn't played competitively since November. But he ended a disappointing 2017 on a slight uptick, and his Torrey Pines record includes three straight top-10s from 2013-15 that ended with his victory three years ago.

3. Justin Rose: Rose ended last year on a tear, with three victories over his final six starts including two in a row in Turkey and China. The former U.S. Open winner has the patience to deal with a brutal layout like the South Course, as evidenced by his fourth-place showing at this event a year ago.

4. Rickie Fowler: This tournament has become somewhat feast-or-famine for Fowler, who is making his ninth straight start at Torrey Pines. The first four in that run all netted top-20 finishes, including two top-10s, while the last four have led to three missed cuts and a T-61. After a win in the Bahamas and T-4 at Kapalua, it's likely his mini-slump comes to an end.

5. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker has become somewhat of a course specialist at Torrey Pines in recent years, with six top-10 finishes over the last eight years including wins in both 2012 and 2016. While he missed much of the second half of 2017 recovering from injury and missed the cut last week, Snedeker is always a threat to contend at this particular event.

6. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama struggled to find his footing after a near-miss at the PGA Championship, but he appears to be returning to form. The Japanese phenom finished T-4 at Kapalua and has put up solid results in two of his four prior trips to San Diego, including a T-16 finish in his 2014 tournament debut. Matsuyama deserves a look at any event that puts a strong emphasis on ball-striking.

7. Tony Finau: Finau has the length to handle the difficult demands of the South Course, and his results have gotten progressively better each time around: T-24 in 2015, T-18 in 2016 and T-4 last year. Finau is coming off the best season of his career, one that included a trip to the Tour Championship, and he put together four solid rounds at the Sony Open earlier this month.

8. Charles Howell III: Howell is no stranger to West Coast golf, and his record at this event since 2013 includes three top-10 finishes highlighted by last year's runner-up showing. Howell chased a T-32 finish in Hawaii with a T-20 finish last week in Palm Springs, his fourth top-20 finish this season.

9. Marc Leishman: Leishman was twice a runner-up at this event, first in 2010 and again in 2014, and he finished T-20 last year. The Aussie is coming off a season that included two wins, and he has amassed five top-10s in his last eight worldwide starts dating back to the Dell Technologies Championship in September.

10. Gary Woodland: Woodland played in the final group at this event in 2014 before tying for 10th, and he was one shot off the lead entering the final round in 2016 before Mother Nature blew the entire field sideways. Still, the veteran has three top-20s in his last four trips to San Diego and finished T-7 two weeks ago in Honolulu.

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Davis on distance: Not 'necessarily good for the game'

By Will GrayJanuary 23, 2018, 6:28 pm

It's a new year, but USGA executive Mike Davis hasn't changed his views on the growing debate over distance.

Speaking with Matt Adams on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Davis didn't mince words regarding his perception that increased distance has had a negative impact on the game of golf, and he reiterated that it's a topic that the USGA and R&A plan to jointly address.

"The issue is complex. It's important, and it's one that we need to, and we will, face straight on," Davis said. "I think on the topic of distance, we've been steadfast to say that we do not think increased distance is necessarily good for the game."

Davis' comments echoed his thoughts in November, when he stated that the impact of increased distance has been "horrible" for the game. Those comments drew a strong rebuke from Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who claimed there was "no evidence" to support Davis' argument.

That argument, again reiterated Tuesday, centers on the rising costs associated with both acquiring and maintaining increased footprints for courses. Davis claimed that 1 in 4 courses in the U.S. is currently "not making money," and noted that while U.S. Open venues were 6,800-6,900 yards at the start of his USGA tenure, the norm is now closer to 7,400-7,500 yards.

"You ask yourself, 'What has this done for the game? How has that made the game better?'" Davis said. "I think if we look at it, and as we look to the future, we're asking ourselves, saying, 'We want the game of golf to be fun.' We want it to continue to be challenging and really let your skills dictate what scores you should shoot versus necessarily the equipment.

"But at the same time, we know there are pressures on golf courses. We know those pressures are going to become more acute."