By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
IRVING, Texas -- One win and two other top-10s in three starts at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. It's no surprise that Jason Day feels comfortable at the TPC Four Seasons Resort course.
"You get to a course and sometimes you just feel really comfortable around it," the Australian said on the eve of the first round. "Even though the tough holes may feel uncomfortable for some, the tough holes here I feel comfortable playing."
Day's only PGA TOUR win came here in 2010, and since then, he's finished fifth (2011) and tied for ninth (2012). With four top-10s already this season, Day nor his fans would be surprised with another high finish this week. It helps that he's coming off a final-round 68 at THE PLAYERS Championship to finish T-19, a big confidence-booster after he made the cut on the number.
"When I'm here, I have a different sense of confidence going and playing this course, compared to other courses. Day said. "I think with last week's finish and the memories of playing well here and winning here for the first time is obviously going to help this week."
That doesn't mean it's always going to be enjoyable. Day calls it a grinder's course because the conditions can be difficult, with swirling winds and challenging little pitches around the greens.
"It's one of those courses where you have to grind it out," Day said, "and by the end of the day you're ready for a 10-hour sleep."
Jason Day and Marc Leishman are good picks for one-and-done challenges this week. (Lecka/Getty Images)
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Insider
For pretty much all intents and purposes, Jason Day is the play this week. He's 3-for-3 at the HP Byron Nelson Championship with a victory (2010), a solo fifth (2011) and a T9 (2012). His actual scoring average in 12 rounds at TPC Four Seasons is 68.67 with nothing higher than a 72.
Day is also one of just four golfers in this week's field in the top 12 in all-time earnings at the tournament. He ranks fifth. Scott Verplank (first), Vijay Singh (second) and Rory Sabbatini (fourth) are the others, but none resonate in one-and-done formats.
Because of his breakthrough title here three years ago, Day has earned more at this event than any other in his career. With that, I rest my case. He's my pick. Yet, if you're playing from behind and prefer to holster the Aussie for later, pencil in possibilities at the AT&T National and Deutsche Bank Championship.
Meanwhile, Marc Leishman is likely to be a popular play as well this week. With top 10s in his last three starts entering this week and three top 15s in four trips to TPC Four Seasons, his results successfully defend the argument. The 2009 Rookie of the Year has risen to a new level, a rarefied air relative to his career path, so there has never been a better time to piggyback on this Australian. Conservative gamers (i.e. the skeptics) will wonder how long the tidal shift in form will last, but I'd be more concerned if he didn't already make noise at this event.
If you've burned Day and don't want to ride Leishman, the chalk of the week is Jimmy Walker. Consecutive cuts made streaks are chic in mainstream conversation this year, but they've always been a handy reference point for gamers. The San Antonio resident leads the PGA TOUR with 22 straight. This season's set of 13 including four top 10s and another four top 25s. Given his trend, it would require an absolute shutting down of his focus not to continue to pound on the door.
Two-man one-and-dones are advised to give looks to Ryan Palmer and Jordan Spieth.
Last week: Sergio Garcia; T8; $237,500.00
Overall Record: 18-for-20
Top 5s: 5
Top 10s: 10
Top 25s: 14
Missed Cuts: 2
Day and Leishman each shot 67 and are near the lead at Harbour Town. (Lecka/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Four days ago, an Australian won the Green Jacket for the first time. Could a plaid one be next?
Marc Leishman and Jason Day each shot 67 Thursday at Harbour Town, where they are two shots off the lead of Brian Davis after the opening round of the RBC Heritage.
"Playing last week it felt like there was pressure the whole week," said Day, who finished third at the Masters. "Coming into this week it's pretty laid back, but it is a TOUR event and I want to do well."
A bogey-free round was a good way to start.
"It was pretty boring, actually," Day said. "I like boring rounds, though, right? Boring rounds are pretty nice to have."
The same could be said for Leishman's. He also had four birdies and no bogeys.
"I'm working hard to not have that letdown," said Leishman, who finished fourth last week. "I've got two weeks off after this week. I'm planning on being in contention all week, and then really enjoying my two weeks off."
Neither would be the first Aussie to win here. Four have done it before -- most recently Aaron Baddeley in 2006.
Still, bouncing back from a disappointing finish at the Masters -- both made critical bogeys late to fall short of reaching a playoff -- wasn't easy.
"I just had to come into this week, make sure that I got enough rest and just try to keep that momentum rolling," Day said. "Normally when you see guys playing well, normally it goes in bunches."
Similarly, Leishman said when he arrived at Harbour Town he felt exhausted.
"The energy was really low and legs felt heavy," Leishman continued. "But I actually went in the ocean yesterday and did a bit of stretching. The legs feel a little bit better, feel refreshed."
So is Australia's place in golf it seems.
Earlier in the week, Stuart Appleby said he hoped Scott's Masters win would be a boost to the nation of just 23 million.
The last time Australians won in back-to-back weeks on TOUR? In 2010, when Day and Scott won the HP Byron Nelson Championship and Valero Texas Open, respectively.
"There was a lot of interest back home with the Masters," Leishman said. "With Scotty winning, but with a few of us having a chance to win. It's exciting for the future of Australian golf."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Ernie Els can't tell you what he said to good friend and newly minted Masters champion Adam Scott on Sunday night.
"We had quite a few beers, both of us," Els said with a huge smile. "You can imagine what we said. I couldn't say (what), not in proper English.
"He's very delighted, I can promise you, that he got a Green Jacket and I was delighted for him. It was quite a good conversation."
Nine months ago, it was a different conversation that shed light on just how close the South African and Australian are to one another.
"I really feel for my buddy, Scotty, I really do," Els said after watching Scott bogey the final four holes at Royal Lytham & St. Annes to hand the claret jug to him. "I've been there before. I've blown majors before and golf tournaments before, and I just hope he doesn't take it as hard as I did."
Sunday, Scott became the first Australian to win the Green Jacket, beating Angel Cabrera, another good friend of Els', in a memorable playoff.
"Everyone is so happy that Scotty won," said Jason Day, who was in contention as well until bogeying two of his final three holes. "It's hard to not be happy for the guy because he's so nice."
Day and Scott traded texts that night.
"He texted me and said, 'I know you're disappointed, but you showed a lot of class,'" Day said. "I texted him back and said, 'I'm glad it was you to be the first. It goes down in history forever, mate.' Being the first Australian to win the Masters does go down in history, and that's got to feel good for him."
It also felt good for Els, who made a trip to Augusta National with Scott two weeks prior to the tournament. The two also played two practice rounds together, along with Louis Oosthuizen, with Scott getting in Els' pocket.
"But being the veteran I am, I made quite a bit of money the second day back from them," Els said. "So we almost came out square."
Games aside, Els could see how well Scott was hitting the ball. He also noticed a quiet confidence in the Aussie.
"I've made a point of really getting on him a little bit, you know, and keeping him going forward," Els said. "We played a lot of golf and talked quite a bit. He really was motivated for it.
"He definitely was striking the ball really well. He was in a very nice, loose, mood. He wasn't too tight. I really felt he was going to play well."
Jason Day had a rare birdie-eagle start to his final round at the Masters (How/Getty Images)
By Bill Cooney, PGATOUR.COM
The first major championship of the season produced plenty of thrills and spills. Adam Scott is the Masters champion after he knocked off Angel Cabrera on the second playoff hole. But it was his play on the final 13 holes in regulation at Augusta National that lifted him to victory. For more on Scott's win and this week's RBC Heritage, let's go Inside the Numbers ...
10 under Scott’s score on Nos. 6 through 18 for the week at the Masters. … Point to plenty of things for Scott’s major breakthrough -- clutch putting and ball-striking, to name a few -- but this stat is about as good as it gets. Scott played this stretch brilliantly, carding 11 birdies and just one bogey for the week. Since 1990, no other golfer has played the final 13 holes in each round of the Masters with one or fewer bogeys through four rounds, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
10th According to Elias, Jason Day became the 10th player since 1990 to open any round at the Masters birdie-eagle. … Day opened his final round 3-3 before bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 ultimately ruined his chances of joining a playoff with Scott and Angel Cabrera. Three other players opened 3 under in the final round: Mark O'Meara (2001), Mark Calcavecchia (2007) and Louis Oosthuizen (2012).
13 Shot differential between Ryan Moore’s third and fourth round at the Masters. … Moore posted an 81 on Saturday but rebounded with a 4-under 68 to finish T38. According to Elias, in the last 10 years at the Masters, only two other players made at 13-shot improvement from one round to the next: Charles Coody and Mark Hensby in 2006.
No. 18 The scenic, 472-yard 18th hole at Harbour Town, home to this week’s RBC Heritage, ranked as the 18th most-difficult closing hole on the PGA TOUR last season. … With light winds last year, the hole played quite easy compared to past seasons at .179 strokes over par. The hole has averaged over par for the tournament every year since 1997.
76.67 percent Scrambling percentage at the Masters for Lee Westwood, who ranked first in that category, saving 23 of 30 shots. … The move to South Florida continues to pay off for the Englishman. Quite frankly, his short game turnaround in 2013 is remarkable. Last season, Westwood ranked 191st in scrambling at 48.30 percent. This season, he ranks seventh on TOUR at 67.24 percent. Still, Westwood has just three top 10s in eight events. The culprit? ...
T109 Rank in 2013 for Westwood in greens in regulation at 65.48 percent. … Yes, this is a major surprise and likely the reason that Westwood hasn’t enjoyed a monster season thus far. Last year, Westwood was third in greens at 69.75 percent and he’s known as one of the better ball-strikers on TOUR. Westwood has also struggled with his putter, ranking 127th in strokes gained-putting, an area that has always been his nemesis.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS ARCHIVE
Week 2: Sony Open/Humana Challenge
Week 10: WGC-Cadillac/Tampa Bay Championship
Week 12: Shell Houston Open
Week 13: Valero Texas Open
Week 14: The Masters
Jason Day came up two shots shy of sudden death and ended up solo third at the Masters.
By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Quite simply, the pressure got to Jason Day.
No way around it.
One minute he’s leading the Masters, two bogeys later, he’s watching countryman Adam Scott head into a playoff with Angel Cabrera and eventually become the first Australian to win the Masters.
Day was pulling for him all the way in the playoff.
“I know that he's come so close so many times in Majors and he really does deserve it," Day said during the sudden death session. “He's worked very, very hard and he's had a great career. Right now I know there's a playoff going on and I'm really praying that he pulls through."
Scott did. And, at the rate Day is going, he might not be too far behind him.
Day, who is making himself at home in majors, birdied the 15th hole to take the sole lead at 9 under, but it simply didn’t last.
The 25-year-old Australian had put himself in position with birdies at Nos. 13, 14 and 15, but bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes to eventually miss the Scott-Cabrera playoff by two shots.
“Birdieing 13, 14 and 15 was really nice, and unfortunately bogeying 16 and 17 was obviously not what I wanted to do," Day said. “You know, it was really tough. Obviously I think pressure got to me a little bit, and unfortunately I bogeyed those."
He said he hit a lot of shots at the back left pin, but at No. 16 he was just a bit off.
“I just rotated the hands a little bit too much and kind of shut it down, and it went a little long," he said. “I was hoping that the putt was going to be a little closer than what it was, and unfortunately I hit a terrible third putt ‑‑ or second putt -- there to bogey the hole."
And No. 17? All he had to do was get over the bunker, but ...
“I hit a great drive and hit a really nice 8‑iron at the pin," he said. “It was dead at it, and it only had to go a couple feet, and it would have been over that bunker and maybe 15, 20 feet and would have had an opportunity to obviously make a birdie there.”
Day now has three top-three finishes at majors. In 2011, he and Scott tied for second at the Masters when Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes to win the Green Jacket. He also finished second to Rory McIlroy at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.
“I love this tournament regardless of where I finish today," Day said. “It's obviously an honor to come this week and play and play against the best players in the world and obviously have a shot at winning my first major and being the first Australian to win the Masters.
“It's a little disappointing, but there's a lot of experience that I can take into next year and hopefully I can wear one of those Green Jackets soon."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As low as scores were in the opening round, the opposite has been true in Round 2. The Masters has been a bit formulaic that way in recent years with a benign setup on Thursday, a difficult one on Friday, somewhere in between on Saturday and back to a little more birdie-friendly on Sunday.
Only a smattering of players are under par so far and the lead, at least for now, remains at 6 under.
Will anyone be able to make a move this afternoon? Given the aforementioned formula and some difficult pin placements, it seems unlikely.
Here's a look at who to watch for this afternoon:
Marc Leishman, Jose Maria Olazabal, T.J. Vogel, 12:35 p.m.: No Aussie has ever won the Masters -- a fact Leishman is acutely aware of. If that's going to change, he'll need to continue roll the ball like he did on Thursday when he had just 25 putts. Picking the brain of 1999 winner Olazabal wouldn't be a bad idea, either.
Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter, Steven Fox, 1:30 p.m.: Only three players have successfully defended here and it looks like it will stay that way after Watson opened with a 75. He's going to have to work just to make the cut. Ditto Poulter, who despite feeling this is his best place to win a major, labored to a 76. The last defending champ to miss the cut, by the way, was Mike Weir in 2004.
Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Scott Piercy, 1:41 p.m.: The second round historically has been pretty good to Woods, who has half dozen rounds in the 60s here on Fridays and nine rounds under par. He's only broken 70 once in the last seven years, however. Of course with scoring as difficult as it has been so far, anything under par should leave Woods in good position going into the weekend.
Rickie Fowler, Padraig Harrington, Jason Day, 1:52 p.m.: There was a lot to like about Fowler's opening 68 -- mostly that he had two double bogeys on the card and still shot 4 under. His aggressiveness could work against him, however, given the pin positions. Expect Day, who is 2 under, to stay in contention, too. His game fits this course well and two years ago he tied for second here.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Ian Poulter turned out to be right.
On Monday, Poulter said via Twitter, "I bet Jason Day doesn't play Honda this week now because he feels exhausted. 18 holes less and Honda might have had him in the field."
Tuesday, Day did just that, pulling out of the tournament. Also withdrawing was Peter Tomasulo.
Luke List, who lives in nearby Jupiter, took Day's spot, while Australian Steven Bowditch replaced Tomasulo.
Rookie List has made two cuts in five starts this year, while Bowditch made the cut in his first two starts and missed the cut in his last two.
Jason Day lost his semifinal match to Matt Kuchar at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship before turning it on in the consolation match against Ian Poulter. Day defeated Poulter, 1-up.
Day had some tree trouble here on the seventh hole at Dove Mountain in the semifinals. Can you write the caption for the photo? Give it your best shot by leaving your answer in the comments section below. And as always, please keep it clean!