CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Jason Day channeled his inner LeBron James and captured his second PGA Tour event of the season.
Day said he drew inspiration from James’ Game 3 buzzer-beater against the Toronto Raptors before he pulled off his own clutch shot on Sunday, May 6.
Leading by a stroke, Day’s 7-iron hit the flagstick on the 230-yard, par-3 17th hole, setting up a 3-foot birdie putt and a two-shot victory over Aaron Wise and Nick Watney at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“That is what I am most happy about,” Day said. “When you are on call to do something good and you pull it off, to be clutch like that, with a lot of heart. … I’m glad I watched LeBron James this morning.”
The 30-year-old Australian — an Ohio resident (that lives in Westerville) who can be found court-side at Cavaliers games — fought through some wayward tee shots and self-doubt to shoot a 2-under 69 on Sunday. He finished at 12-under 272.
“One of the best wins I have ever had,” said Day, who never felt on top of his game on Sunday.
He missed more than half the fairways — including an ugly hook into the water on the par-4 14th — hit just eight greens in regulation and made four bogeys on the day, squandering a three-shot lead on the back nine. But he toughed it out on the final three holes at Quail Hollow nicknamed the “Green Mile,” playing them in 2 under.
Day caught his biggest break on 17, where the ball bounced four times and was moving fast when it hit the pin, drawing a huge roar from the crowd.
It came on a hole with water short, left and long of the green that gave players fits all day because the putting surface was so firm that it was tough to stop the ball.
“Things like that are what you need to win tournaments,” Day said.
Day, who has had trouble with the closing hole in the past, then had the luxury of hitting an iron off the 18th tee, knowing he had a two-shot lead. He got up-and-down from the rough right of the green to finish with a par.
“You play sit there and play mental games with yourself, subconsciously saying, ‘You can’t do this. You’re going to fail, you’re going to fail,’” Day said. “I just kept on saying to myself, ‘Forget about it and keep pushing.’”
It was the Day’s 12th career win on the PGA Tour. The former world No. 1 also won the Farmers Insurance Open earlier this year after a win-less 2017.
The win elevated him from 14th in the world to No. 7, and Day said this is a “step in the right direction” toward regaining the top spot as the world’s best gather for the Players Championship next week.
“Obviously power off the tee, he’s a phenomenal driver,” said Phil Mickelson, who also shot 69 and finished five shots back. “And he’s a great putter. He’s got a very deft, soft touch. He’s one of the best putters in the game. So you put those two things together, and he’s not lacking in wedge play, either. … So he’s got strengths in all the areas that he needs.”
If Day was expecting a challenge from some of the other high-profile players in the field, it never materialized.
Mickelson opened with two bogeys, failing to capitalize on the momentum from his third-round 64. Rory McIlroy concluded an up-and-down week with a 71 to finish at 3 under. Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas were one shot behind him.
Tiger Woods was a non-factor too, shooting 74 to finish 14 shots back. He failed to make a birdie in the final round of a tournament for the first time since 2014.
“I didn’t putt well again,” Woods said. “The chances I did have, I missed them all. Just a bad week.”
NOTES: Woods, Mickelson and Fowler will play the first two rounds together at the Players Championship. All are past champions of the PGA Tour’s flagship event, which Day won in 2016.
Day is committed to play in the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide
May 28 – June 3, 2018 at Muirfield, Dublin, Ohio.
2018 Schedule of Events
Monday, May 28: Practice Round; Tuesday, May 29: Practice Round.
Wednesday, May 30: Practice Round. Nationwide Invitational at the Memorial Tournament Official Pro-Am, Tee times start at 7:30 AM. Military & Veteran Appreciation Day: Open to all active duty, military reserve, National Guard, military retirees, military spouses and veterans (includes immediate family). Department of Defense issued ID required. Receive up to four (4) complimentary tickets for Military & Veteran Appreciation Day.Offer valid only on 5/30/2018. Must present your voucher at the gate in exchange for a ticket. Your guest(s) must be with you when you enter the Tournament. Junior Golf Day Activities include: Youth Field Trips; Junior Golf Clinic (5:30 PM; Safari Golf Club); Clubhouse Kids; Course Treasure Map; Designated Autograph Area; Memorial Honoree Ceremony (2:30 PM; Driving Range); Tournament Honoree – Hale Irwin; Journalism Honoree – Larry Dorman; Jack Nicklaus Golf Clinic (4 PM; Driving Range).
Thursday, May 31: First Tournament Round – 7:30 a.m. start (estimated).
Friday, June 1: Second Tournament Round – 7:30 a.m. start (estimated).
Saturday, June 2: Third Tournament Round – 8 a.m. start (estimated).
Sunday, June 3: Final Tournament Round – 8 a.m. start (estimated). Trophy presentation following play.
Gates open at 7 AM each day.
Jason Day Profile
Australia; 6 ft, 0 in Height; 195 lbs Weight; 30 AGE; 2006 Turned Pro; Beaudesert, Queensland, Australia Birthplace.
9 FEDEXCUP Rank; 814 FEDEXCUP Points; 69.473 Scoring Average.
PGA TOUR Best 2018 Results: Farmers Insurance Open 1; AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am T2.
World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions T11
9 FedExCup Rank $2,073,900 Official Money 2 Top 10 Finishes
PGA TOUR Wins: 1 2018 Wins; 5 Best Year (2015) Wins; 11 Career Wins.
Career Victories: PGA TOUR Victories 11; International Victories 0; Additional Victories 3; 10 2nd Place Finishes; 5 3rd Place Finishes; 64 Top 10 Finishes
Career Records: Career High FedExCup Rank 3; Career Low Round 61; 215 Events Played; 173 Cuts Made;
$40,118,453 Total Money
Best 2017 Results: AT&T Byron Nelson 2; BMW Championship 4; AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am T5; 18 FedExCup Rank; $2,978,181 Official Money; 5 Top 10 Finishes
Best 2016 Results: THE PLAYERS Championship 1; World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play 1; Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard 1; 6 FedExCup Rank $8,045,112 Official Money; 10 Top 10 Finishes.
Best 2015 Results: PGA Championship 1; RBC Canadian Open 1; Farmers Insurance Open 1; 3 FedExCup Rank; $9,403,330 Official Money; 11 Top 10 Finishes
Best 2014 Results: World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship 1; Farmers Insurance Open T2; The Barclays T2; 10 FedExCup Rank $3,789,574 Official Money; 6 Top 10 Finishes
November 12, 1987 Birthday (30 AGE). Beaudesert, Queensland, Australia Birthplace. Forest Lake, Queensland, Australia; Columbus, Ohio Residence. Wife, Ellie; Dash James (7/11/12), Lucy (11/11/15) Family.
2006 Turned Pro; $40,449,995 Career Earnings; Exempt status — PGA TOUR: Winner, 2015 PGA Championship (through 2020-21).
Got his start in golf from his dad, who died when Jason was 12.
Was encouraged to attend a golf academy in Australia by his coach and former caddie, Col Swatton, where he borrowed a Tiger Woods book from his roommate and gained inspiration from reading it.
In February 2016, his hometown of Beaudesert, Australia named a street in his honor following his outstanding 2015 season.
In 2015, was honored with the Don Award by Sport Australia Hall of Fame and was the inaugural recipient of the Greg Norman Medal.
With his wife, Ellie, launched the Brighter Days Foundation in 2015. Its mission is working to end child hunger in Ohio, give hope to those who may be feeling hopeless and support child-serving organizations.
PGA TOUR Victories (11): 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship; 2014 World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship; 2015 Farmers Insurance Open, RBC Canadian Open, PGA Championship, The Barclays, BMW Championship; 2016 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play, THE PLAYERS Championship; 2018 Farmers Insurance Open.
Web.com Tour Victories (1): 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic Presented by Cynergies Solutions.
Additional Victories (3): 2013 ISPS Handa World Cup [indiv]; 2013 ISPS Handa World Cup [with Adam Scott]; 2015 Franklin Templeton Shootout [with Cameron Tringale].
National Teams: 2013 World Cup; 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 Presidents Cup.
JOINED TOUR PGA TOUR: 2008.
May 16 JUST IN: @MemorialGolf announces Tiger Woods to be paired with special Nationwide guest Peyton Manning during official Tournament Pro-Am Wednesday, the Nationwide Invitational at the Memorial