Day most stressed ever, yet Oakmont confident

By Randall MellJune 14, 2016, 6:58 pm

OAKMONT, Pa. – Jason Day feels the pressure mounting as Thursday’s start of the U.S. Open nears.

He feels it in ways he has never felt before.

“I've never been more stressed in my life than right now,” Day said. “Being No. 1 in the world, having a lot of expectations on you, having to practice so hard to keep that No. 1 spot, trying to win as many tournaments as I can puts a lot of stress and pressure on your shoulders.”

If you’re thinking maybe the weight of it all is starting to get to Day, that maybe you ought to cross him off your list of favorites this week, think again.

Day, 28, says he loves this feeling.

“I feel like I thrive under stress,” Day said.

If that’s the case, Oakmont Country Club couldn’t fit Day better. Competing at a U.S. Open on Oakmont should come with a surgeon general’s warning: “Playing here may cause high blood pressure.” No major championship test is more grueling from tee to green.

“It’s great to be here,” Day said. “Almost feels like home.”

Day says that because he has come to know Oakmont better than most players. His agent, Bud Martin, is a member of the club. Day first played Oakmont when he was 18.

Though Day may have broken through to win his first major in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits last year, he believes his game is more suited to a U.S. Open than any other major.

“I think it sets up best for this because I hit it high,” Day said. “Usually, the course is running very firm. Usually the greens are firm and fast. I feel like I've got good touch around the greens.

“I've been very close to winning a U.S. Open, especially the last few years.”

In 2011, Day finished second at the U.S. Open at Congressional. In ’13, he tied for second at the U.S. Open at Merion. He has played in five U.S. Opens and finished top 10 in four of them.

U.S. Open: Full-field tee times

You should be getting the idea by now that Day is in a good place mentally. He may be battling a cold this week, but his attitude is as healthy as it has ever been. He knows he needs that with all the negative energy that swirls around U.S. Opens, where dread and doom are twin demons waiting to pounce.

“Sometimes attitude is huge,” Day said. “I think when you're in stressful situations, like you are at U.S. Opens, where this is usually the toughest course we play every single year, you have to come in with a positive attitude regardless of what the outcome is. If you're going to have a bad attitude, you may as well not even tee it up that week, because you probably won't play good anyways.”

Carrying the No. 1 ranking can become burdensome, with all the expectations, the extra demands, the feeling there’s a target on one’s back. Day really seems to relish it, though. He’s even getting his family involved. His 3-year-old son, Dash, is the star of a new PGA Tour Superstore commercial that could play out perfectly this week. Dash talks through the commercial about playing golf with his dad, but how he’ll let his dad win this Sunday because “It’s Father’s Day.”

“The first time I saw the commercial, especially at the end, when he says,'I love you, daddy,’ I just started crying,” Day said.

Day and his wife, Ellie, also have a seven-month-old daughter, Lucy.

“Jason is structured so well from what I can see, the little bits of insight that I get into his whole life,” said fellow Aussie Adam Scott. “I think he's got a handle of everything very well. He's matured as a person so much in the last four or five years, and I think that's showing in his golf game.”

Day was asked what he thinks is separating himself from other pros. He struggled to answer it, but when he did, his answer was more about his attitude than his skill set.

“I want it right now,” Day said. “I want it more than anything in the world. I'm not saying that all the other players don't want it just as much as me, but all I'm doing right now is focusing on trying to win golf tournaments, and I understand that the only way to do that is get the process right. I don't think there's anything that separates me. I just want to win as much as every other guy out there. But I'm so single focused on trying to accomplish that, that I make sure that I get everything right before the tournament.”

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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.”