Day picks rest over work­out be­fore PGA chal­lenge

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

JA­SON Day has opted for rest over prac­tice be­fore de­fend­ing his world num­ber one sta­tus and his first ma­jor ti­tle when the 98th PGA Cham­pi­onship tees off to­day at Bal­tus­rol.

The 28-year-old Aus­tralian skipped prac­tice on July 26 over the par-70, 7428-yard course and opted for an­other rest day after spend­ing July 25 with his fam­ily, post­ing an In­sta­gram photo from a video game cen­tre.

Day, is sched­uled to play the first two rounds along­side four-time ma­jor win­ner Rory McIl­roy and five-time ma­jor cham­pion Phil Mick­el­son.

Amer­i­can Dustin John­son, who won his first ma­jor at last month’s US Open, would over­take Day for the top-rank­ing spot if he wins and the Aussie fin­ishes worse than a twoway share of sec­ond – or if John­son is a solo run­ner-up and Day is 29th or worse.

Fel­low first-time ma­jor win­ners Danny Wil­lett of Eng­land from the Masters and Swe­den’s Hen­rik Sten­son from the Bri­tish Open will play along­side John­son to­day and to­mor­row.

A field of 156 play­ers, in­clud­ing 72 play­ers from 24 na­tions out­side of the United States, will com­pete for a US$1.8 mil­lion top prize from a $10 mil­lion purse.

Day will be play­ing his fourth event in five weeks and third in a row. But after with­draw­ing from the Rio Olympics over Zika virus con­cerns, he will have a month off be­fore the US PGA Tour’s sea­son-end­ing play­offs opener.

“It has been very dif­fi­cult to plan my prac­tice sched­ule around [the] tour­na­ment sched­ule, be­cause when I’m done, I take a few days off and I’m tired, and you’ve got to try and some­how man­age that,” Day said last week at the Cana­dian Open.

“The big­gest thing is be­ing able to pre­pare prop­erly for the events, give your­self the best op­por­tu­nity to win, and then try and do your best. That’s all you can ask.”

Two inches of rain fell on July 25 at the course and more is in the fore­cast for to­mor­row.

“The key this week is go­ing to be on ball strik­ing and stay­ing pa­tient be­cause it’s a pretty tough start, and then just kind of hang­ing on,” Wil­lett said. “Put it in the fair­ways and in the mid­dle of the greens. Give your­self as many birdie chances as pos­si­ble.”

Long-hit­ters like their chances this week, es­pe­cially with the only par-5 holes the 649-yard 17th and the 554-yard 18th.

“If I can hit my driver half­way de­cent, I’ll have a bet­ter ad­van­tage over some of the guys, at least half the field,” said two-time Masters win­ner Bubba Wat­son.

“You have got to drive the ball well,” said McIl­roy. “It’s a long golf course for a par 70 and the two par5s com­ing at the end of the course. You’ve got to drive the ball in the fair­way and pretty long as well.

“You’re go­ing to see a lot of guys hit a lot of greens. I think lag putting is go­ing to be a big thing. If you have good speed on the greens, that’s go­ing to be a big help.

“Every­things is straight out in front of you. There’s no real hid­den se­crets to it.”

McIl­roy, Tiger Woods and Padraig Har­ring­ton have won the Bri­tish Open and PGA crowns in the same year in the past decade. Be­fore then it had been done only twice in 81 years. But Sten­son likes his chances.

“If it be­haves like it nor­mally does, I think that can put me in good po­si­tion,” Sten­son said. “It should play into my strengths, which is midto long-irons. So I think it’s a good course for me.”

He opted to de­lay play­ing the back nine un­til yes­ter­day, say­ing, “I wanted to walk the course but I de­cided to con­serve en­ergy and not get out there any longer.”

Mick­el­son, a 46-year-old US lefthander who won the 2005 PGA at Bal­tus­rol, could be­come the fourthold­est ma­jor cham­pion in his­tory by cap­tur­ing the Wana­maker Tro­phy on July 24 after set­tling for sec­ond to Sten­son at the Bri­tish Open two weeks ago at Royal Troon.

“It will be im­por­tant to drive the ball well, and I ac­tu­ally am look­ing for­ward to that chal­lenge,” he said.

Photo: AFP

Ja­son Day watches his drive from the 15th tee on the open­ing day of the 2016 Bri­tish Open Golf Cham­pi­onship at Royal Troon in Scot­land on July 14.

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