NORTON, Mass - September 4, 2015 — Nearly ten years after Australia’s Jason Day brazenly stated that he wanted to be the best golfer in the world, he lined up his putts today at the Tournament Players Club of Boston with the chance to accomplish that goal. In the past month, the 27-year old from Beaudesert, Australia has played his way into a three-way contest to become the world’s No. 1, a position currently held by Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.
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In the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship today, Day bested McIlroy by three strokes and walked to the clubhouse among the tournament leaders after posting a 68, three under par. The tournament continues through the holiday weekend and acts as the second leg of PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs where the top 100 players of 2014-15 are vetted down to the top 70 to move on to the semifinal round at the BMW Championship next week in Lake Forest, Illinois, outside Chicago. (After Day posted his 68, other players on the course topped the leaderboard).
Day won his first major at the PGA Championship, held at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, and last week, won the first leg of the season-ending FedEx Cup playoffs at The Barclays in New Jersey by posting weekend scores of 63 and 62. Meanwhile, American Jordan Spieth, Day’s golfing partner today along with Bubba Watson (No. 3 on the FedEx Cup points list), is ready to stake his claim as the world’s best. Spieth, who shot a four-over par 75 in R1 of the DBC, won four PGA Tour events this year, including two majors in The Masters and U.S. Open. Spieth’s accomplishments have come quickly, as the 22-year old only joined the tour in 2013.
McIlroy, Spieth and Day - all under 30 years of age - have become The Big Three of the sport of golf, harkening back to memories of a golden age for the sport when Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player dominated the competition in the 1960s and ‘70s.
“The Big Three? I guess everyone is saying that, right,” questioned Day when he met with the media prior to today’s first round of the Labor Day weekend tournament? “Over the years of my professional career, I never thought that I’d be up there and grouped with such (high) caliber players such as Jordan and Rory. “It’s kind of refreshing for the game of golf.”
Day added young phenom Rickie Fowler to the group as Fowler won the 2015 Players Championship, considered as the “fifth” major in professional golf, and he noted that they were all “kids” in age and at heart.
“The kids, these days, especially Jordan, Rory and Rickie, are all very approachable and the kind of kids you can easily be fans of, to become addicted to following golf, which is great. I felt, back in the days - 10 or 15 years ago - it was kind of harder to approach the top players in the world. To be able to be in that trio, I guess, is neat. But, I want to be on top of that trio, so that’s what I’m shooting for. It’s going to be tough for me to do but it’s going to be a lot of fun trying to top those guys.”
Growing up about 55 minutes drive from Brisbane, Day began his pro career in 2008 after graduating from pro golf’s Web.com qualifying tour. He grew up with the game just as Tiger Woods was dominating the sport and he now trades text messages and tutorial conversations with the former No. 1 player who failed to qualify for this tournament after a subpar year riddled with injuries. While the Tiger Woods Foundation is the sponsor and tournament organizer for the Deutsche Bank Championship, Woods has been forced to be a tournament dignitary and spectator for the PGA Tour’s proverbial quarterfinals.
Just what can Tiger relay in a text message to a player such as Jason Day?
“It’s just random things,” said Day. “We’ll be talking about “finishing” on Sundays and process stuff. He has to dumb it down to my level, man. I have to digest them a little bit, because he is pretty smart. Who wouldn’t want that type of mentorship from a player like that? To be able to ask him questions and for Tiger to be so open towards me has been fantastic.”
Aside from Tiger Woods, Day also revealed he was recently trading messages with President Barack Obama and Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer who coaches his team in Columbus, about 10 miles from Day’s adopted home in Westerville, Ohio and not far from Day’s wife, Ellie’s, hometown of Lucas.
Day fictitiously joked that the U.S. President “consults me on what he needs to do with the rest of the world,” but before the laughter broke up the press conference, Day seriously discussed the state of the NFL’s DeflateGate controversy and played pundit on college football.
“I was wishing him good luck on the season, because everyone is kind of shooting for him and his team,” said Day. “They look strong. Those three quarterbacks can all play as starting quarterbacks anywhere else, so it’s pretty special when you have that much talent. Urban and his coaching has been phenomenal for our State over the last couple of years. I’ll try to catch some games this off-season. It’s going to be exciting to see how it goes.”
Day's color commentary of Ohio State football might easily be confused with this weekend’s coverage of the Deutsche Bank Championship as it’s surely going to be exciting to "see how it goes."