Day's goal still the same: Being world No. 1

By Doug FergusonJanuary 9, 2015, 2:22 pm

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Jason Day had all the trappings of a rising star when he made it to the PGA Tour as a 19-year-old with loads of power and no fear. Tiger Woods was at his peak, and the Australian teenager didn't hide his desire to one day replace him at No. 1 in the world.

That was eight years ago.

Woods is returning from another season interrupted by injury and has slipped to No. 34 in the world. Rory McIlroy is at the top of the world ranking, not nearly by the same margin that Woods once enjoyed, but enough that Day said he would fit the mold as a dominant player that comes around once every 20 years.

The target hasn't changed. Only the name.

''It's not so much I'm trying to get a rivalry out of these guys,'' Day said Thursday. ''I want the No. 1 spot. And the only way for me to get the No. 1 spot is to win. Unfortunately for me, I've only won twice. But I still feel like I'm young in my career. I'm 27. This is my eighth season on Tour. Back in the day, they used to say young guys were in their 30s. Now it's in your 20s, which is true.

''But my goal is to get to the No. 1 spot, and I know I can only do that if I win, and win consistently.''

It helps that he at least is in Kapalua, where the 34-man field of PGA Tour winners from 2014 tee off Friday in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Day is playing for only the second time, and it seems as though he should be a veteran of the Plantation Course by now.


Hyundai Tournament of Champions: Articles, videos and photos


Seven years have produced more injuries their trophies.

Last year was no exception. Even as Day was rolling to victory in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, he was coping with a thumb injury that forced him to miss every tournament but the Masters over the next three months.

His back still flares up occasionally. He also has dealt with wrist injuries.

So there's an additional goal this year – staying healthy. Day has put in the work on the gym and believes he can make it through the year in good shape. And he thinks if that happens, he can make strides toward the goal he has been talking about since he first came on Tour.

He twice has given himself good looks at winning a major – the Masters in 2011 when Charl Schwartzel birdies his last four holes to win by two, and the U.S. Open at Merion in 2013 when Justin Rose was rock solid at the end of his round to win by two.

Equally important is keeping his brain healthy.

The guy that Day stopped just short of calling out when he joined the PGA Tour – Woods – has turned into a confidante of sorts. They played together during the opening round of the Hero World Challenge last month, and Woods usually has a hand in the pairings. Day said he stays in touch with Woods through text and phone calls.

''I pick his brain about stuff,'' Day said. ''If you pick a guy's brain, pick the best.''

Woods was the player he wanted to emulate when he first took to golf in Australia, and now one aspect of the game Day is trying to figure out is his comfort zone. He has noticed some players who are driven by high energy and emotion, and others who are at their best when they keep cool.

Day figures he is somewhere in between.

''I remember talking to Tiger about being comfortable,'' he said. ''I've got to try to find that sweet spot and stick to that. I'm the guy who can't get too high or too low, to enjoy myself but stay right in the middle. When you're out there on the 16th hole at Augusta, it's hard to keep yourself down. That's what happened to me when I had the lead on the 16th tee. I had so many emotions going through my body that it sucked me out.

''It's something we have to learn and experience.''

Day (No. 8) is one of two players from the top 10 in the world at the first PGA Tour event of the year. The other is Masters champion Bubba Watson. Three others from the top 10 – McIlroy, Rose and Adam Scott – are not playing this week.

It's a great chance to get the year off to a great start. The Tournament of Champions is the hardest event to get in, though it might be the easiest to win. It's a short field with only 34 players. Twelve of them have never seen the terrain of Kapalua, and some players are still shaking off the winter rust.

Day's coach and caddie, Colin Swatton, was at Kapalua five days early to map out the course and the greens that can be so difficult to read. In his debut four years ago, Day made a reasonable debut with a tie for ninth.

''I feel this year is going to be a good year, as long as I stay healthy and as long as I've the will to improve,'' he said.

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M. Jutanugarn finally joins sister in LPGA winner's circle

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 1:42 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn won the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open by two shots for her first victory in six years on the LPGA Tour, joining sister Ariya as the second siblings to win on the tour.

The 23-year-old from Thailand shot a 3-under 68 for a 12-under 272 total Sunday at Wilshire Country Club in the tour's return to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence.

Jutanugarn won in her 156th start after three career runner-up finishes, including at the Honda LPGA Thailand in February. She had 21 top-10 finishes before winning.

Seven-time winner Ariya tied for 24th after a 70. She joined the predominantly Asian crowd to follow her older sister's final holes, crying as Moriya two-putted to close out the win.

Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam were the first sisters to win on the LPGA Tour.

Hall of Famer Inbee Park shot a 68 to tie for second with Jin Young Ko (70).

Park had opportunities, but she wasn't able to put pressure on Jutanugarn playing in the final threesome. However, Park will return to No. 1 in the world when the rankings come out Monday, knocking off top-ranked Shenshen Fang, who tied for 12th.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


Jutanugarn began the final round with a two-shot lead and never wavered in fulfilling the potential she first displayed as the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2013. After a birdie at the second hole, she reeled off nine consecutive pars before sinking birdie putts at 12 and 13.

She overcame a tee shot that narrowly missed going out of bounds for another birdie at 15 to lead by three.

Jutanugarn ran into trouble on the par-4 16th. Her approach landed on the green and rolled off it, stopping inches from dropping into a bunker. Her chip shot ran well past the hole and her par putt just missed catching the edge of the cup. That left her with a short putt for bogey, her first in her previous 28 holes, trimming her lead to two shots.

Ko's tee shot on 18 landed about 4 feet from the hole, giving her a chance to cut Jutanugarn's lead to one shot with the Thai facing a long birdie attempt.

But Ko missed, leaving Jutanugarn room to maneuver. Her birdie putt came up a couple feet short, but she calmly parred the hole to win. Ariya rushed onto the green and joined others in emptying water bottles on her sister before they embraced.

So Yeon Ryu (68) finished fourth at 7 under. American Emma Talley (67) and Eun-Hee Ji (71) tied for fifth at 6 under, making Ji one of four South Koreans to place in the top five.

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After Further Review: Tour players embracing new ideas

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 23, 2018, 1:26 am

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

On players embracing new ideas on the PGA Tour ...

PGA Tour players are trying to tell commissioner Jay Monahan something: They like new.

In the second year of the two-man team format at the Zurich Classic, 10 of the top 14 players in the world have signed up, including all four reigning major champions. It’s the first time all four have been in the same field since the Tour Championship. If the laid-back event offered world-ranking points – it doesn’t, and that’s part of the appeal – the winner would have received 62 points. That’s the same as the Genesis Open.

Sure, some sponsor obligations are involved in boosting the field here, but there’s no other way to look at this: Today’s PGA Tour players are not only willing to play events that are a departure from the 72-hole, stroke-play norm. They’re encouraging it. - Ryan Lavner


On Moriya Jutanugarn's breakthrough win ...

As much love as there is between the Jutanugarn sisters, it couldn’t have been easy for Moriya, watching her baby sister, Ariya, soar past her as one of the LPGA’s dominant stars the last few years. Mo, though, never betrayed an inkling of frustration or envy.

That’s what made Mo’s breakthrough LPGA victory Sunday at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open especially meaningful for everyone who has admired Mo’s devotion to her sister. Mo was always a fixture, waiting in the wings to celebrate whenever Ariya hoisted a trophy.

So emotions were high late Sunday, with Ariya waiting in the wings this time, with Ariya sobbing in Mo’s arms after the victory was secured. It was heartwarming for more than Apple, the mother who raised these talented, loving sisters. As always, Apple was there, too, soaking both her daughters in tears of joy. – Randall Mell


On the tough scheduling decisions facing the PGA Tour ...

According to multiple sources, officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation on Monday.

While this is good news for the folks in Fort Worth, Texas, who were in danger of finding themselves on the wrong side of timing, there remain some tough decisions to be made in the next few weeks.

If the PGA Tour’s plan is to end its season before Labor Day beginning in 2019, something must give. Currently, the Houston Open, a staple on Tour since 1946, and The National are without sponsors. When the music stops in a few weeks and the circuit announces the ’19 schedule, there’s a good chance one, or both, of those events will be the victims of bad timing. – Rex Hoggard

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Triplett hole-out wins Legends of Golf playoff

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 12:12 am

RIDGEDALE, Mo. - Kirk Triplett holed out from a bunker for birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf to lift himself and partner Paul Broadhurst past Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman.

''Well, you're trying to make it, but you know realistically it doesn't go in very often,'' Triplett said. ''You're trying to give your partner a free run at it. You don't want to hit it up there 20 feet past or do something silly. I'm just trying to hit it the right distance and get it on the right line.''

Langer and Lehman took it in stride.

''You kind of learn to expect it,'' Lehman said. ''These guys out here are so good and Kirk Triplett is a magician around the greens. The odds of making that shot are probably not good, but you certainly expect him to hit a great shot and he did and it went in.''

Lehman and Langer missed birdie putts after Triplett holed out.

''I kind of felt like we both hit pretty good putts, misread them, both of them,'' Lehman said. ''I hit mine probably too hard and Bernhard's was too soft, but you have to hand it to the guys who hit the shot when they have to hit it.''


Full-field scores from the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf


Broadhurst and Triplett closed with a 6-under 48 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course to match Langer and Lehman at 24 under. Langer and Lehman had a 47, playing the front nine in alternate shot and the back nine in better ball.

The 56-year-old Triplett won his sixth PGA Tour Champions title.

''That's a big roller-coaster - three good shots and mine, right?'' Triplett said. ''I'm feeling a little dejected walking down that fairway there, a little sheepish. To knock it in it just reminds you, this game, you know, crazy stuff.''

Broadhurst claimed his third senior victory.

''I don't get too emotional, but that was something special,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said.

Spanish stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal had a 48 to tie for third with 2017 winners Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco. Singh and Franco, the third-round leaders, shot 50.

Mark Calcavecchia-Woody Austin (48), John Daly-Michael Allen (49), Steve Stricker-Jerry Kelly (50) and David Toms-Steve Flesch (52) tied for fifth at 20 under.

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Mullinax (T-2) comes up short of maiden win

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 12:06 am

The Valero Texas Open saw an unheralded player break through to earn a maiden victory, but unfortunately for Trey Mullinax his day will have to wait.

Mullinax started the final round within a shot of the lead, having fired a course-record 62 during the final round. He trailed Andrew Landry by one shot for much of the final round while racking up six birdies over his first 11 holes, but a pair of late miscues meant the former Alabama standout had to settle for a share of second place, two shots behind Landry.

A final-round 69 marked a career-best finish for Mullinax, who is playing this season on conditional status and whose lone prior top-10 this season came after he Monday qualified for the Valspar Championship.

"I know my game's there, I'm playing really well," Mullinax told reporters. "Give all credit to Andrew, he played really well today, rocksteady. He was putting great, hitting great shots."


Full-field scores from the Valero Texas Open

Valero Texas Open: Articles, photos and videos


Given time to reflect, the 26-year-old will likely look back on the final two holes where nerves appeared to get the best of him. Looking to put some pressure on Landry, Mullinax chunked his pitch on the short 17th hole into a greenside bunker, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on the course.

Then Mullinax was unable to convert a 9-foot birdie putt on the final green, which would have forced Landry to make his 8-foot par putt to avoid a playoff. Afforded the luxury of two putts for the win, Landry rolled in his par save to cement a two-shot win.

"Made a bad bogey on 17, but just you've got to hit some bad shots," Mullinax said. "Would have liked to have got the putt on 18 to fall to put a little bit of heat on him, but this experience that I'm gaining right now is just going to help me down the road."