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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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.

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Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

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Cut Line: Johnny's exit, Tiger's fatigue

By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

Made Cut

Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

“I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

“The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.


Missed Cut

By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.