EDISON, N.J.—After a vintage winning performance at this year’s PGA Championship in which he finished 20-under-par for the event, it would have been expected if Jason Day dipped a bit on the performance side of things with a post-major letdown.
Not a chance.
The day—literally and figuratively—belonged to Jason.
After experiencing a bit of back pain prior to the start of The Barclays—the opening leg of this year’s FedEx Cup Playoffs—the 27-year-old Aussie settled matters in the most definitive of ways during the final 36 holes, scoring 15-under-par on rounds of 63–32 for a 125 total and a six-stroke victory. Day’s 261 total tied the tournament record and his win was utterly complete—demonstrating total command with all elements of his game at peak form. Jason had only one bogey during weekend play and just four the entire week.
Plainfield CC proved vexing early on for many players with dry, warm weather throughout the week, which allowed the acclaimed Donald Ross design to achieve optimum green speeds coupled with gnarly rough that was consistently thick and dense in a number of locations.
The win at Plainfield CC is Day’s sixth PGA Tour triumph and his fourth this season, with three coming in his last four starts—Canadian Open, PGA Championship, and now The Barclays.
The only serious challenge that Day faced came from Swede Henrik Stenson. Ranked among the 10 best players in the world, Stenson tried to keep himself within reach, but Day simply pulled away, dropping long birdie putts on 14, 15 and closing out in grand fashion with an 8-foot concluding birdie at the 72nd hole.
Day started well during the first two rounds with matching 68’s. Going into the weekend’s play, he trailed leader Bubba Watson by three shots. Saturday’s third round featured plenty of movement from a range of players, and going into the final round Day assumed a tie for the lead with playing partner South Korean Sang-Moon Bae—both men shooting matching 63’s leading into Sunday’s climactic round.
Oftentimes when tour players score real low on one day, the wherewithal to equal or surpass that effort is oftentimes not possible. Bae faltered with a 2-over-par 72 on Sunday and was simply along as a scorekeeper for the incredible stretch run to “Day-light” that Jason convincingly demonstrated.
The Barclays did not have in the field Rory McIlroy, who opted to rest for the upcoming Deutsche Bank event in the Greater Boston area. Nonetheless, the ascent of Day is now providing another fascinating storyline. Although McIlroy returns to world No. 1 in the golf ranking—and Spieth maintains his lead in the Fex-Ex Cup Playoffs—the reality is that Jason Day is the lead performer.
With each tournament victory, Day is adding to his already sky-high confidence level. In years past, Day would battle into contention but then make the untimely miscue allowing others to pull ahead. That is no longer happening.
Day has now pushed the challenge on key players to catch him. While others have to worry about potential clouds on their horizon—the Day light is simply blinding at this moment.
M. James Ward, a member of Golf Writer’s Association of America (GWAA) and past member of Met Golf Writer’s Association (MGWA), has reported on golf’s grandest events since 1980 in a variety of forums.