Af­ter an amaz­ing round, Day to fo­cus on win­ning

He suf­fers a lit­tle more with ver­tigo, but his 68 gives him a share of the lead.

Los Angeles Times - - 56 - By Tod Leonard tod. leonard@ ut­sandiego. com

UNIVER­SITY PLACE, Wash. — Jason Day walked around the U. S. Open on Satur­day as if his head was in the halo brace of an ac­ci­dent vic­tim.

When he teed up his ball, marked it on the green or pulled it from the cup, Day tried to fo­cus his eyes on the hori­zon. He never looked down at his yardage book, hold­ing it up like he was read­ing the in­gre­di­ents on a can of soup in dim light.

Be­fore Day was to play the third round at the top­sy­turvy ter­rain of Cham­bers Bay, Colin Swat­ton, the Aussie’s men­tor since he was a teen, of­fered the player the most ba­sic of as­sis­tance. Could he help him put his tee in the ground?

“He sort of gave me a look as if to say, ‘ What did you ask me that for?’ ” Swat­ton re­called with a grin.

In a per­for­mance Swat­ton likened to Tiger Woods win­ning the 2008 U. S. Open on a bro­ken leg, Day, who col­lapsed on his f inal hole Fri­day, bat­tled through ver­tigo to shoot a two- un­der­par 68 that put him in a four­way tie for the lead at four un­der.

Day f in­ished the round by go­ing birdie- birdie, draw­ing an enor­mous roar from the 6,000 fans in the grand­stand on the 18th hole.

“I said to him on 18 that that’s the great­est round I’ve ever watched, a su­per- hu­man ef­fort,” Swat­ton said.

Of course, Day still has an en­tire round to play Sun­day, and all he has to do is over­come, among oth­ers, reign­ing Mas­ters champ Jor­dan Spi­eth, who shot 71, long- hit­ting Dustin John­son ( 70) and South African Branden Grace ( 70), who will start even with the 27- year- old Aussie and not be overly sym­pa­thetic to his shaky state.

Day, John­son and Grace are hun­gry for a f irst ma­jor ti­tle.

Af­ter sign­ing his score­card, Day was taken im­me­di­ately by shut­tle to his pri­vate bus on the grounds. He emerged about a half hour later for a brief tele­vi­sion in­ter­view.

He said he was “groggy” on the front nine, felt bet­ter early on the back, but the ver­tigo re­turned on the 13th tee box. He said he was nau- seous the en­tire round.

“I think the goal,” Day said, “was to go through to­day and see how it goes.”

Af­ter Day’s col­lapse Fri­day, he was ex­am­ined by physi­cians, who di­ag­nosed him with Be­nign Po­si­tional Ver­tigo.

He was treated with med­i­ca­tion and told that it might take a few days for his symp­toms to be re­lieved. He has been suf­fer­ing from some bouts with ver­tigo since April.

Watch­ing Day warm up be­fore the round, Swat­ton ad­mit­ted, “I had my reser­va­tions.” But as they headed to the f irst tee, Swat­ton’s de­meanor be­lied his doubts. “I told him, ‘ You have the heart of a lion. You get to show the world to­day that you’re go­ing to be the great­est you can be. Let’s do it.’

“He put his head down and kept walk­ing, one foot in front of the other.”

How did Day con­sis­tently put the inches- wide face of a golf club on a ball when at times he could barely stand? How did he man­age to see a line on his putts when he some­times couldn’t walk in a straight line? At times as he waited to hit his shots, Day used Swat­ton has his own per­sonal kick­stand.

“The hard­est part for him was turn­ing his head,” Swat­ton said. “Ev­ery time he turned to look at his tar­get, it took a few sec­onds for his eyes to steady up a bit.”

Day was un­steady early and looked like he wouldn’t be a fac­tor. He bo­geyed the sec­ond and fourth holes and didn’t make his f irst birdie un­til the 10th.

A bo­gey at 11 fol­lowed, but Day im­me­di­ately bounced back with a birdie af­ter driv­ing the par- four 12th green. That set up a big fin­ish. Day made a curl­ing, eight- foot birdie putt at 15. When he some­how drained an 18- foot birdie putt at 17, it seemed he was push­ing the edge of the ex­tra­or­di­nary.

Day got two breaks at the par- f ive 18th. He drew a de­cent lie af­ter driv­ing into the fes­cue, al­low­ing him an easy layup, and his ap­proach shot to the green — and maybe this was more skill than luck — found a back­stop and trick­led back down to six feet above the hole.

If Day felt woozy, his ball wasn’t on its straight roll into the bot­tom of the cup.

“I said to him that they might make a movie around this,” Swat­ton said.

Day didn’t even smile. That would have taken too much energy.

An­drew Red­ing­ton Getty I mages

JASON DAY, WHO had trou­ble look­ing down dur­ing the third round, f in­ished with two birdies.

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