Day fighting through fatigue at Barclays
August 25, 2016
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
- Jason Day is looking to successfully defend his title this week at The Barclays. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – Here are a few observations following the first round of The Barclays, the opening event of the FedExCup Playoffs. Patrick Reed and Martin Laird lead the way at 5-under 66.
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A TIRED DAY
FedExCup leader and world No. 1 Jason Day began his title defense at The Barclays in solid fashion despite battling a wayward driver and some unexpected fatigue.
The Australian hit just five of 14 fairways but needed just 27 putts on the way to a 3-under 68 to sit just two shots off the lead. Day took three weeks off after the PGA Championship and blew off some cobwebs on the long Bethpage Black layout.
“I'm a lot more tired than I expected. This is a pretty big walk,” Day said.
“But when you're just practicing and going to the gym, you don't really walk around a lot, and then you come back to a behemoth golf course in Bethpage – yeah I’m just a little bit tired.
“Obviously if you're tired, that can kind of creep into your mental game, as well. So I’m just trying to stay on top of it and make sure that I don't make too many silly errors.”
Provided a possible storm Friday does not eventuate, Day expects scoring to become harder and harder over the next three rounds as conditions firm up. The 28-year-old was adamant patience and mental toughness would be the key to a win.
“You have to manage your golf ball well around here, but it's the guy that manages up here (brain) the best that is going to win,” Day said.
“Because he's going to do everything he possibly can not to fall for the little things out there, gather all the information he can and go from there.
“It's a course where you kind of just have to grind it out. This week is not only going to be more physical, but it's going to test the mental strength that you have and see how far you can actually push yourself.”
REED FOCUSED AT BARCLAYS
Patrick Reed is trying to divorce himself from all the FedExCup and Ryder Cup scenarios he is facing and just concentrate on the task at hand – winning for the first time this year.
Reed, a recent Olympian in Rio, sits seventh on the FedExCup points list, the highest of all non-winners this season thanks mainly to nine top-10s.
But after an impressive co-leading 5-under 66 to open The Barclays, he is looking for lucky number 10 to be in the win column.
“The main thing is just to stay focused on getting better at golf, not worrying about everything else that's going on, as in Ryder Cup, FedExCup, all those kinds of things,” Reed said.
“Really at the end of the day, if I take care of playing some good golf and doing what I need to do, those will all take care of themselves.
“If I go out and do what I've been doing all year, give myself a chance to win a golf tournament, and if I can close one off, then it doesn't matter. It takes care of itself.”
Reed opened his round on the tougher back nine at Bethpage Black and started with 10 straight pars before finding his way with a front side 31.
Three birdies and an eagle on the par-5 4th set up his lead.
“It was a clean day. I feel like I hit the ball pretty solid,” he said.
“I hit, really, two tee shots I felt that weren't very solid. I got away with one on 9 today by hitting it into the bush and getting it up-and-down.
“Besides that, all the shots I hit, even though might not have been down some of the lines I wanted to, I was still in the fairway and still on the greens, so I was still able to attack.”
PRACTICE PAYS OFF
Co-leader Martin Laird may have only hit 5 of 14 fairways in the opening round to be ranked T104 of 119 players in driving accuracy but the Scotsman walked off extremely pleased with his work off the tee.
Having finished ranked T73 of 75 players who made the cut at the Wyndham Championship in driving accuracy on the way to a T63 finish, Laird revealed extra practice time spent seemed to be paying off.
He hit just 26 of 56 fairways at Sedgefield Country Club last week but 11 of those came on Sunday.
“I struggled driving the ball last week but I got it sorted on Sunday and drove the ball great,” Laird said.
“I worked with my coach Saturday after I played over there last week and we got it sorted, and that was big because I didn't want to come here not driving the ball very well.
“I wouldn't be standing here right now talking to you if that was the case. I drove the ball really pretty well in the wind today. I didn't hit that many fairways, but I really hit a lot of good tee shots, which left me in good spots. That's obviously a key around here.”
ROUGH DAY FOR MEDALISTS
It was a tough day out for the Rio Olympic Games Medal winners.
Gold medalist Justin Rose struggled to a 2-over 73 while Silver medal winner Henrik Stenson shot one worse at 74.
Bronze medalist Matt Kuchar was the pick of the three but he too was over par, grinding his way to a 1-over 72 after having limited preparation time due to illness.
Kuchar, who is ranked 18th in the FedExCup, was forced to pull out of the Pro-Am Wednesday but was glad to get through his round Thursday.
“My body finally shut down Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” Kuchar said.
“I didn’t play any practice rounds, had to pull out of the Pro-Am as my body was wore out. I don’t know what I came down with but I was completely worn out.
“But I’m glad I woke up this morning feeling good and was able to play a reasonable round of golf.”
- Last week’s winner of the Wyndham Championship Si Woo Kim failed to keep the mojo going with a 3-over 74.
- Dustin Johnson wowed plenty with his 360-yard drive on the 5th but his effort was actually just the seventh best of the round. The longest drive of the day belonged to Luke List who pumped one 371 yards on the 1st hole.
- U.S. Open champion from 2009 at Bethpage Black Lucas Glover was bringing the memories flooding back when tied for the lead at 5-under through 16 holes. But he made double bogey – bogey to finish to drop back to 2-under. Scott Piercy had similar woes. He also led the tournament late in his round at 5-under through 14 holes. But three bogeys in his last four left him joining Glover with a 69.
- There are 11 players in the field who played the 2002 & 2009 U.S. Opens plus the 2012 Barclays at Bethpage Black. Adam Scott, Luke Donald and Ryan Moore were the best of the experienced bunch at 2-under 69. The others: Phil Mickelson (70), Jim Furyk (70), Matt Kuchar (72), Ben Crane (72), Rickie Barnes (72), Vijay Singh (72), Steve Stricker (74) and David Toms (79).
- Rory McIlroy’s first round with his new mallet putter did not bring the dramatic improvements he was hoping for. He had 31 putts during his even-par 71 and ranked 109th of 119 players in Strokes Gained Putting. The longest putt he holed all day was a 6’10”.
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Bethpage Black is hard.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 25, 2016
Dbl or worse 35
Average: 72.126 (par 71) pic.twitter.com/dpzXCzycb2