Day sets sights on more victories in 2014

By Doug FergusonFebruary 24, 2014, 6:34 pm

MARANA, Ariz. – Along with celebrating a World Golf Championship that took him to No. 4 in the world, Jason Day couldn't help but consider the rest of the young season and wonder just how much higher he could go.

That's when he paused to reflect, and to make a confession.

One of the worst labels hung on any golfer is that he's only playing for a check. Day said he used to be one of those guys.

''I'm going to be honest here,'' he said, almost as if he had something he wanted to get off his chest. ''I come from a very poor family. So it wasn't winning that was on my mind when I first came out on the PGA Tour. It was money. I wanted to play for money because I'd never had it before. Winning takes care of everything. And it's not about the money anymore. I just play golf - golf that I love - and win trophies.''

To look at his raw skill is to forget that few things in life have come easily to the 26-year-old Australian.

His father died of cancer when Day was 12. As a kid, he had to shop at a used clothing store, where for $5 he could stuff as much as he could into one bag. Finding refuge in golf and inspiration from the work ethic of Tiger Woods, he won a Nationwide Tour event at 19 and seemingly was on his way.

After six years on the PGA Tour, he earned close to $14 million - but had only one win, at the Byron Nelson Championship. He had a pair of close calls at the Masters, and nudged even closer to a major last year at Merion when he tied for second behind Justin Rose.

But it's all about winning. Day seems to have figured that out.

It's easy to call the Match Play Championship the biggest win of his career because there hasn't been many others. But when he sat down with his team last fall before embarking on a new season, the goals were clear.

''That's all I'm trying to do is win,'' he said.

Day won the individual title in the World Cup last November at Royal Melbourne, where he and Masters champion Adam Scott delivered Australia the team title. And now he has a World Golf Championship, carved out over five days, six matches and 113 holes.

This required mental strength to go along with physical tools, especially after having to watch Victor Dubuisson pull off two shots that would have left anyone wondering if the golfing gods were conspiring.

From the base of a cactus, the Frenchman went for broke by blasting at the ball - even his club was snagged by a television cable - and knocking it up a rough-covered slope and down onto the green to 4 feet. One hole later, Dubuisson's ball was at the bottom of a desert bush among rocks bigger than a golf ball when he popped that shot onto the green to save par. At this point, Day went from disbelief to laughter. What else could he do?

''At that time you're just thinking, 'Do I need to just hand him the trophy now after those two shots?' But I didn't want to do that,'' Day said. ''I wanted to win so bad, and I've been wanting to win so bad. And there was nothing that was going to stop me. I felt great from the start of the week. I had a good preparation coming into this week. The swing felt great. Just for some reason, this week felt different to any other week I played.

''And I just wanted it more than anything in the world.''

Day refuses to look back at the last six years as an underachievement. The hard work never stopped even as the trophy case was relatively empty. Day set the bar high when he first joined the PGA Tour through the Nationwide Tour and said he was ready to take down Woods.

There's still time. Plenty of time.

Day only has to look at Scott and Justin Rose, who didn't win majors until they were in their early 30s. He no longer is hung up on Woods and Rory McIlroy, both of whom had won multiple majors by this time.

''I think the biggest thing for myself is just to understand I'm not Rory. I'm not Tiger. I'm not Adam Scott. I'm not Justin Rose,'' he said. ''I'm Jason Day. And I need to do the work and it will happen. I've just got to be patient.''

He has reason to be excited.

The Masters is just around the corner, a place so special that Day refers to it as the closest thing to heaven on Earth. He made a late surge at Augusta National in 2011 before Charl Schwartzel blew past everyone with four straight birdies. Last year, he had a two-shot lead standing on the 16th tee and made back-to-back bogeys, finishing two shots out of the playoff.

The goal hasn't changed. He still wants to be No. 1 in the world. And he knows now it won't be easy.

Then again, his week at Dove Mountain was anything but that. And in a format where every day feels like Sunday, that might turn out to be the biggest payoff.

''As long as I keep working hard and I want it as much as this, hopefully the floodgates will open and I'll win a lot more,'' Day said. ''But it's totally up to me if I want to win one more or 10 more or 20 more. It's just how much I want it.''

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”