Pain can't dampen glorious day

Jason Day's six-stroke victory at The Barclays saw him overtake Jordan Spieth as the FedExCup points leader.
Jason Day's six-stroke victory at The Barclays saw him overtake Jordan Spieth as the FedExCup points leader.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Despite back spasms, Australian wins The Barclays to get closer to world No. 1 spot, FedEx Cup title

EDISON (New Jersey) • Few players on the PGA Tour are more popular among their peers than Jason Day, whose niceness is no longer construed as an impediment to his progress.

A season that began with Rory McIlroy zeroing in on a career Grand Slam, and continued with Jordan Spieth zooming in on a calendar Grand Slam after wins at the Masters and the US Open, is winding down with Day setting his sights on the FedExCup title.

The Australian on Sunday collected his second consecutive victory, his third title in four starts and his fifth top-10 finish since mid-June.

With a closing eight-under-par 62 at Plainfield Country Club, he joined Spieth, whom he supplanted as the FedExCup points leader, as a four-time winner on the PGA Tour this season. Day, who won the PGA Championship the week before, finished 19-under 261 at The Barclays.

That was six strokes better than the runner-up, Henrik Stenson, the 2013 FedExCup champion, who posted a final-round 66.

Bae Sang Moon of South Korea, who shared the overnight lead with Day, made a promising start with a birdie at the second, but bogeyed five of his next eight holes to see his challenge end. He carded a two-over 72 to share sixth place on 271 with Americans Daniel Summerhays (66) and Ryan Palmer (70).

How sublime was Day's day? Brian Harman had two aces on his card and settled for a 68.

"It's been an amazing year for me," Day said. "Just the work and dedication I've put in over the years, it feels like it's paying off.

"The last six weeks have been crazy. The good thing is it's not over. I've got all this great momentum going into next week."

Sunday's 62 was his 20th consecutive round at or under par. In his last five starts, his stroke average is 67.6, and his cumulative score is 73-under.

The 27-year-old has shaken the underachiever label that attached itself to him in the years after he failed to improve on two runner-up finishes in Majors in 2011. His game is where he expected it to be at this time last year before thumb and back injuries thwarted his progress.

"I'm glad all those frustrations and experiences of failures that I've had in the past happened, because I used it as a learning tool to really push myself," he said.

To get to where he is now, within range of the world No. 1 ranking, Day has had to endure more health issues, including a month-long bout with vertigo and a recurrence of back spasms last Tuesday, which forced him to withdraw from Wednesday's pro-am.

Day described the week of muggy weather as "huge" because the hot, humid conditions loosened his back and allowed him to average 326 yards on his drives.

He was money off the tee and on the greens. Of the eight birdies he made on Sunday, three came on putts of over 25 feet. He drained putts of 27 feet on 10, 20 feet on 14 and 33 feet on 15. "I feel like Jordan Spieth right now with how I'm putting," the world No. 3 said.

Day goes into this week's second play-off event, the Deutsche Bank Championship, with a mathematical chance to take over the world No. 1 spot from McIlroy, who surrendered it two weeks ago to Spieth, who will hand it back next Monday.

It is the first time Day's lifelong goal of becoming the game's top player is within his grasp.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2015, with the headline 'Pain can't dampen glorious day'. Print Edition | Subscribe