09 Aug 2020 | Professional golf |
I can still win PGA, says positive Day
by Martin Blake
Jason Day battled the course and his own game for a second consecutive day at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco today and as a result, he remains in contention for the United States PGA Championship entering the final round.
Day shot an even-par 70 that owed as much to his resilience to his skill, with two birdies and two bogeys, having started out two shots from the lead.
By the time he scrapped out a closing par from the fairway trap at the par-four 18th, he was at six-under par, three shots behind American Dustin Johnson, whose 65 left him at nine-under par and leading.
Johnson, whose round remarkably included a double bogey at the ninth, was runner-up to Brooks Koepka in this tournament last year and if anyone deserved a PGA title, it is him, after he lost this championship in 2010 for grounding his club in a bunker at Whistling Straits when virtually no one even knew that he was playing from a hazard.
The chasing pack behind Johnson is headed by Korn Ferry Tour graduate Scottie Scheffler and long bomber Cameron Champ at eight-under, while the looming Koepka, Collin Morikawa and Paul Casey are at seven-under.
But Day is not out of it yet.
The Australian hit a pure wedge at the first hole today from just 90 metres and in close, made the birdie and looked like he might make a charge. By the time overnight leader Haotong Li of China bogeyed the fifth in the group behind him, Day had a share of the lead at seven-under par.
But just as he scaled the top of the leaderboard, Day had his own issues. At the sixth, he hit a wild drive and dropped a shot, and at the ninth he gave back a shot from just in front of the green. He did not make another birdie until the par-three 16th when he knocked in a long putt, and he missed a great birdie opportunity at the 17th.
Yet he managed to cobble his pars in between the birdies, and he would not go away.
“Major championship weekends you don’t have to do too much to move up the leaderboard, but you can do a lot to move away from the lead by forcing things too much,” he said.
“Hopefully that’s my poor round for the week, and I can move on.”
Li opened the door for the rest of the field with his three-over par 73 today. The Chinese player, who represented the International team at the Presidents Cup, had the outright lead through 12 holes but at the 13th, pulled his tee shot into Cypress trees and could not find the ball, making double bogey. He conceded four shots to par in four holes and ended up tied-13th.
That was the kind of day it was. Most of the players struggled to hold their approach shots on the bouncy greens from the thick rough. Koepka made three consecutive bogeys from the 13th to the 15th, then hit it tight at the 18th to make a great, fighting birdie and keep his hopes of winning the event for the third straight day alive.
Even his great friend Johnson, who played superbly, had a calamity from the greenside bunker at the par-four ninth and gave back two shots.
Back in the field the other Australians, Adam Scott and Cameron Smith, have treaded water. Scott is tied-30th through three rounds after an even par round today, and Smith is tied-43rd, also shooting 70 today.
As for Day, the 2015 PGA champion, he said he was “really positive” about what’s to come.
“I feel like it’s right there,’’ he said. “If it clicks, I think I can shoot a low one, and if I can do that tomorrow, hopefully I’ll be walking out of here with the Wanamaker (Trophy).”
Day said he would keep an eye on the leaderboard tomorrow, but not watch too closely. “I’m really going to focus on each and every shot. If I can walk off at the end of the day knowing I gave it everything, I’ll be happy. Hopefully it’s enough to win.’’
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