Day calls PGA loss a chance to grow
WORLD number one Jason Day is counting on the lessons learned from another near miss at a major championship to pay off with the toughness to win other majors later.
The 28-year-old Australian defending champion settled for second on July 31 at the PGA Championship, one stroke behind US first-time major champion Jimmy Walker after a gruelling 36-hole marathon day to conclude a draining three-week span.
“It’s just great to be in the position to be in contention and give this title defence a really good shot at winning it again,” Day said. “It would have been nice to repeat.”
Day has 13 top-10 finishes in 25 major starts, his lone triumph coming in last year’s PGA at Whistling Straits. Six other top-four showings ended in defeat but Day said the key to improvement, and winning majors, is putting himself in the hunt over and over again.
“You can learn the most when you’re in this position,” he said. “This is how you grow as a player and as a person and get better. And hopefully that yields more major championship wins in the future.”
Day, Walker and eight other contenders were forced to play 36 holes on the Championship’s final day after they were unable to start on July 30 before play was halted by thunderstorms.
“On days like this, you’ve just got to keep pushing yourself harder than anyone else, mentally more so than physically,” Day said. “It’s tough, it’s gruelling, and it’s more mentally painful to go through days like this, just because you get to a certain point and that barrier, you’ll be sitting there and going, ‘I just don’t know if I can push on any more.’”
Day pushed himself and Walker to the limit, with a 74-foot birdie putt in the third round topped by an eagle on his 72nd hole keeping the American’s victory in doubt until the final putt.
“It’s really quite fun to see how far you can actually push yourself mentally,” Day said. “Playing 36 holes today, especially under the pump, not knowing what was going on really, and finishing that way was pretty special.”
Day has learned that if he is stressed out, his rivals are too.
“If I’m feeling pressure, that means he’s feeling pressure,” Day said. “No matter how calm you look on the outside, you’re always stressing and trying to get through it.
“I’m always stressing out. I’m over shots like, ‘OK, this is so hard.’ I know if I’m feeling that, everyone else is feeling it.”
Day smacked two 2-iron shots to set up his 14-foot eagle putt at the par-5 18th.
“The 2-iron into the green was probably one of the best 2-irons I’ve ever hit into a par-5, especially under the circumstances,” Day said.
“Emiliano [Grillo, his playing partner] came up to me and said the ball was scared of me when I hit it.”
Considering Day fought fatigue and illness all week, rested through the first two practice rounds, and played his first round ever at Baltusrol on the eve of the event, he did pretty well.
“A little disappointed, but I came in here with not the greatest preparation. I’m very happy with how I played all week,” Day said.
“I was just trying to give myself opportunities and I unfortunately just didn’t hit them. I gave myself opportunities, but I just didn’t hit them close enough.” –
Jason Day of Australia tosses his club on the 14th hole during the final round of the 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club on July 31.