Day aces BMW course in re­turn to form

Waterloo Region Record - - SPORTS - Doug Ferguson

LAKE FOR­EST, ILL. — Ja­son Day made his first hole-in-one in nine years, shot a 6-un­der 65 and goes into the week­end at the BMW Cham­pi­onship with a chance to end 16 months with­out a vic­tory.

It was a big day for more than just the 29-year-old Aus­tralian on Fri­day.

By be­com­ing the first player to make an ace at Con­way Farms this week, BMW con­trib­uted $100,000 to the Evans Schol­ars Foun­da­tion that will pay for a four-year tu­ition.

Day also won a car and, not long af­ter sign­ing his card, he de­cided to do­nate that to the foun­da­tion to pay for an­other full schol­ar­ship.

Day said it didn’t mat­ter that he has a spon­sor­ship deal with Lexus and re­ally didn’t need an­other car.

“I’m in a for­tu­nate po­si­tion, be­ing able to not only im­pact one per­son, but be able to im­pact an­other per­son’s life,” Day said.

It was a feel-good mo­ment in char­ity, and on the score­card.

Day be­gan the year at No. 1 in the world with a goal of stay­ing there all the way through De­cem­ber. In­stead, he gave up the top rank­ing to Dustin John­son within two months and has slipped all the way to No. 9.

He showed up at Con­way Farms at No. 28 in the FedEx Cup with no guar­an­tee of even reach­ing the Tour Cham­pi­onship. His back was both­er­ing him. And in a jar­ring move, he de­cided to use an old school friend, Luke Rear­don, as his cad­die to re­place the only

cad­die he ever had as pro — Colin Swat­ton, who dou­bles as his coach.

For two days, he has looked like the Day of old.

He goes into the week­end in the fi­nal group with fel­low Aus­tralian Marc Leish­man, who had a three­shot lead.

Dun­das’s Macken­zie Hughes is in 12th place at 7-un­der af­ter fir­ing a 68, while fel­low Canadian Adam Had­win shot his se­cond-straight 71 and is even for the event.

“See­ing the last two days, I know I still have it in my­self to be able to hit the cor­rect shots and go out there and try and win,” Day said.

It helps be­ing on a course where two years ago Day opened with a 61 and went wire-to-wire for a six-shot vic­tory that took him to No. 1 in the world for the first time. He al­ready has three ea­gles this week, two of them on Fri­day. He chipped in from the back of the green on the par-5 14th, and then made his hole-in-one on No. 17 from 186 yards to a right pin with a 7-iron.

Day didn’t see the en­tirety of the shot, turn­ing his head away from dust that flew into his eyes. The ball landed in rough just short of the green, hopped out and rolled into the cup.

“I was ac­tu­ally go­ing to play a lit­tle bit left,” he said. “Pushed it a lit­tle bit, but I was try­ing to hit a high shot, 7-iron about 182 yards and land it there. Prob­a­bly landed at maybe 181 yards. Landed just off the green and kind of rolled down. One of those ones you kind of get away with it.”

Day still feels far away from 2015, when he won the PGA Cham­pi­onship and a pair of FedEx Cup play­off events. The fol­low­ing year, he won his se­cond World Golf Cham­pi­onship, the Arnold Palmer In­vi­ta­tional and The Play­ers Cham­pi­onship.

Those were the days when win­ning felt easy.

“It’s more of a grind,” he said. “I need to make the Tour Cham­pi­onship — that’s my ul­ti­mate goal. When I was play­ing well, I didn’t need to worry about it. I just knew re­gard­less of what I did, I was go­ing to play well.”

NAM Y. HUH, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ja­son Day, who got an ace on Fri­day, goes into the week­end in the fi­nal group with fel­low Aus­tralian Marc Leish­man, who had a three-shot lead.

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