Day continues march into elite conversation on Friday

By Randall MellSeptember 4, 2015, 9:44 pm

NORTON, Mass. – Jason Day didn’t take long to get everyone’s attention again Friday at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

He birdied his first, second and third holes.

And just like that, he was atop another leaderboard.

“You can’t miss it,” Ryan Palmer said of Day’s name up so early over everyone else. “You expect it, the way he’s playing.”

Though Day didn’t have the lead at round’s end, he quickly put himself in position to keep his red-hot run going in a bid to win his fourth event in his last five starts. With a 3-under-par 68, he’s just three shots behind Brendon de Jonge, the leader.

Palmer finished his round tied with Day, knowing that’s not a bad place to be.

“You beat Jason Day, you’re going to finish top three,” Palmer said.

Day stumbled a bit coming home, bogeying two of his last five holes, but nothing seems to rattle him with his confidence soaring, not even a three-putt at the last. In tough conditions, with swirling, gusting winds and challenging hole locations, Day was more than satisfied with his start.

“It was a very patient day,” Day said. “You can't get out there and be so disappointed. Once you're frustrated you're going to make some mental errors, and it's going to be bad for you. You're going to make more mistakes that way. I just had to keep pushing forward and try to get the best score in.”

Day closed out last week’s victory at The Barclays shooting 63 and 62 on the weekend. He put his foot right back on the gas pedal Friday at TPC Boston. At his opening hole, he carved a 7-iron from 176 yards to 4 feet for that first birdie. He hit his tee shot to 10 feet at his second hole and poured that in for birdie. At the next hole, he holed his birdie putt from 20 feet.

That’s 10 consecutive rounds in the 60s for Day now.

Deutsche Bank Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I got off to a fantastic start,” Day said. “A couple of blemishes coming in, but once again it was just tough. The speeds of the greens got gradually quicker as the day went on. And I think everything started drying out, baking out.”

Day’s level of play really stood out competing alongside Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson. They’re 1-2-3 in the FedEx Cup standings, but Day looked as if he were playing another course. Spieth was six shots behind Day through the first five holes. He shot 75. Watson shot 73.

Playing a couple holes in front of Day, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy saw Day’s name hit the leaderboard early. He was asked if it motivated him.

“Not when it's the first round,” said McIlroy, who shot 70. “I obviously saw that he got off to a great start, but it really doesn't change how I play, or how I think out there. At that point, I think I was 1-over par, so I was just trying to get it back into red numbers for the day and finish there.”

Spieth created excitement with a run at the Grand Slam this year, winning the Masters and U.S. Open. If Day wins this week, he’ll be aiming to do something nobody’s done in the nine-year history of the FedEx Cup. He’ll be looking to sweep all four playoff events. Yes, it isn’t a Grand Slam, but a playoff sweep wouldn’t just win Day the FedEx Cup and its $10 million jackpot, it would give his peers something to think about in PGA Tour Player of the Year voting. It wouldn’t make Spieth the lock he is now.

A win this week might also vault Day over McIlroy to No. 1 in the world rankings. Day says that lofty ranking is his No. 1 goal in golf.

With all the talk of Day, McIlroy and Spieth as the game’s Big 3, Day said on Thursday his aim is to be at the top of the discussion. A dominant playoff run would help him move him there.

“I'm excited about it, but I can't think about that too much because I need to make sure that I stay focused on what I need to do to keep the flow going,” Day said.

Day’s hard run at McIlroy and Spieth has got the attention of the golf world.

“It's a good battle right now,” said Luke Donald, who opened with a 67. “I think it's fun to see that back and forth going on.”

Getty Images

Kang on cheating allegation: 'I did the right thing'

By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 1:26 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three weeks after his playing partner claimed that he “cheated” while taking an improper drop at the Quicken Loans National, Sung Kang insisted Thursday that he did nothing wrong.

Joel Dahmen tweeted that Kang cheated after a lengthy dispute about where his ball had last crossed the line of a hazard. A PGA Tour official ruled in Kang’s favor, he made par on the hole, shot 64 and earned one of the available spots in the Open Championship.

Kang didn’t learn of the controversy until the next day, when he received an email from a PGA Tour communications official seeking comment. He researched online what the furor was about, then issued a brief statement through the Tour (which added its own statement, saying that there was “no clear evidence” to suggest that Kang dropped incorrectly).

Kang said he tried to clear the air with Dahmen before the first round of last week’s John Deere Classic, but they never had the opportunity to discuss their differences.

“I followed the rules official and I think I did the right thing,” Kang told a handful of reporters Thursday following his opening round at Carnoustie, where he shot a 2-under 69 to sit three shots off the early lead.

Kang said he was hesitant to discuss the incident with reporters, because he said there clearly was a difference in opinions. He said he’d already told his side to South Korean news outlets but that “whatever I say, some people are going to trust it and some people are not going to trust it. Then I’ve got to think about it more and more when it’s not going to help my golf game.”

“I really want to say a lot of things about it, the truth about what happened,” he added, “but I’m not going to say anything.”

Kang said that he wouldn’t alter his approach when dealing with rulings in the future.

“No. Why?” he said. “I did the right thing. There’s no point in changing.”

Getty Images

Kisner (67) enjoying 'frat' life, soccer matches with Jordan and Co.

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:49 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The frat house tradition continued this year at The Open, with a group of seven high-profile Americans rooming together for the week, including early first-round leader Kevin Kisner.

Kisner explained after his opening 5-under 66 that the group – which includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler – has spent the week talking about how demanding Carnoustie is playing and enjoying the summer weather.

“We're out there playing soccer at night and hanging out,” he said.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

To be clear, this isn’t a proper soccer match, but instead a penalty-kick situation with all but one player taking turns trying to score.

“I just try to smash [Dufner] in the face,” Kisner laughed. “He's the all-time goalie.”

Although Kisner said he’s always impressed with the athletic prowess of other players, Spieth has proven himself particularly adept on the impromptu pitch.

“Jordan scored when Duf tripped, it was hilarious,” Kisner smiled. “[Spieth] is good until he sends it over the goal four houses over, and we've got to go knock on a neighbor’s door for the soccer ball.”

The group is actually staying in two local houses that are next to each other, one with a large enough back yard and a soccer net, but perhaps not enough soccer balls.

“We’re going to have to Amazon Prime a couple new balls to replace the ones we lost,” Kisner said.

Getty Images

Van Rooyen continues links run with impressive 67

By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 12:27 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For Erik van Rooyen familiarity has not bred contempt.

The South African, like many European Tour players, has been on a links golf odyssey the last three weeks, playing the Irish Open, Scottish Open and this week’s Open Championship in consecutive weeks, and the crash course paid off on Day 1 at Carnoustie when he opened with a 4-under 67 to assure himself a spot among the early leaders.

Although van Rooyen missed the cut last week just down the coast at Gullane Golf Club, he entered the final round in Ireland with a four-stroke lead.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I didn't pull it off the final day,” said van Rooyen, who closed with a 74 to tie for fourth place. “I still think I played pretty well. I was nervous. That's completely normal, and I'll learn how to deal with that. I'll take that experience into tournaments like this.”

Van Rooyen, who was alone in second place when he completed his round, began his round with back-to-back birdies and was bogey-free until the last hole. It was just what one would expect from a player who has immersed himself in links golf for the better part of a month.

“We've been playing nice golf now the last three weeks, so definitely used to the way this course is playing, definitely used to handling the wind,” he said. “So I'll be ready.”