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.
“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.”