Day was four shots behind Kevin Kisner playing the last hole Saturday when he blocked his tee shot into the pine straw. With a tree obstructing his follow through, he tried to hit a hook shot around the trees. But his foot slipped at contact, the ball caught an overhanging limb and bounced into a bush.
After taking a penalty for an unplayable lie, Day made a quadruple bogey-8 that dropped him to even par for the tournament. He declined to speak with media Saturday, but after a final-round 70 he said he had no regrets other than the outcome.
“Nine times out of 10 I’ve got that shot. It was a very, very simple shot,” Day said. “It was just like a low, bullet hook trying to get it up and around the right side of the green and just chip it up on the green and try to save par.”
Day explained that his decision was partially motivated by the position of Kisner, who was in the middle of the fairway with his tee shot on 18. While he ended up making bogey, Day said he expected Kisner to make par at worst and felt the risky approach was called for in his effort to stay within striking distance.
“Looking back on it, hindsight’s great where you say, ‘Oh, why didn’t you just chip out.’ Chipping out, there’s still water long if I go too far, and if I don’t go far enough there’s rough and bunkers,” Day said. “I thought I actually had the shot. It just clipped a tree, and if it didn’t clip a tree, if it just went over those bushes we probably make 5 at worst.”
Day finished the week at 1 under, inside the top 15 despite his third-round debacle. He recalled his first win at the 2010 AT&T Byron Nelson when a similarly risky decision led to his first PGA Tour victory, and he said given a mulligan at Quail Hollow he would take on the same shot again.
“I’m really good at hitting into the junk, and I’m really good at hitting out of the junk as well,” he said. “That can be an Achilles’ heel for me because I feel like I can take on a lot of shots that a lot of people can’t. I feel like I’m talented enough to be able to do that. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out for me.”