After Further Review: Day separates himself


Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds. 

Jason Day’s victory Sunday at The Players Championship is the most impressive of his 10 PGA Tour titles. He seemed to win on two different courses, with changing conditions making  the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course such an extremely different  test on the weekend. His ability to navigate the diverse tests is a testament to the growing versatility of his game. He is honing more tools than Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. He has a power game Spieth can’t match, and he’s continuing to refine a dependable short game that McIlroy can’t yet consistently match. 

Some players’ games are more suited to certain kinds of courses. Day seemed as if he wasn’t suited for the entire state of Florida when he arrived for the Arnold Palmer Invitational two months ago. In 24 PGA Tour events in the Sunshine State, he had recorded one top-10 finish. Maybe it was the Bermuda grasses, maybe his high ball flight, but something wasn’t working. We can’t say that anymore. He won at Bay Hill, and now he has won at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course. He won this past week showing off both his power and his short-game skills, finishing first in driving distance and first in scrambling. His  game appears to be evolving  in ways Spieth and McIlroy can’t ignore.

On Day winning without his A-game ...

He didn’t look like a man on a mission. There was no swagger, no abundance of confidence that he was playing a different game, although there rarely is with Jason Day, just a cautious optimism born from the fact he’s been here before.

He’s been here a lot, in fact, the last year. For the seventh time since last July he’s found the winner’s circle, this time with something less than his best stuff. It’s the mark of a truly dominant player and perhaps the most impressive part of his week at The Players, where he won by four, that he scorched the field with a game that was a beat off. - Rex Hoggard 

On Russell Knox's resilience ...

Russell Knox is a decorated player with a WGC title already under his belt. But the affable Scot will probably garner more fan support for the way in which he handled Saturday’s meltdown on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass than any of his previous on-course performances.

Knox’s sextuple-bogey 9, including depositing a sleeve of balls into the water surrounding the island green, marred an otherwise stellar week of golf. But he was able to laugh off his struggle, both in the moment and after the round with reporters and later on Twitter. Then he stepped to the same tee Sunday and put the ball safely on the green in what he described as a “career-defining moment.”

“I’ve never been so nervous over a shot in my whole life,” he said. “Even though I three-putted, I beat my score by five yesterday. So pretty solid.” 

Knox isn’t the first player to succumb to the 17th, and he certainly won’t be the last. But his final-round 68 is a testament to his resilience after a high-profile struggle, and he’ll likely have a few more fans in his corner the next time he steps to the Stadium Course. Will Gray