Let’s begin with a stat that is both a testament to Jason Day and a surprising figure given his reputation.
His win at the Farmer’s Insurance Open at Torrey Pines was his first stroke-play victory since 2010 and only his third on the PGA Tour.
And yet most would consider Day one of the preeminent players in the game.
As a result we burden the 27-year-old Aussie with both status and potential. We expect to see him every Sunday. We also expect him to fulfill the promise we’ve seen him flash at Augusta and other courses.
This weekend’s win is undoubtedly Day’s most impressive to date. Torrey Pines played so difficult down the stretch that more than one person made a “Farmer’s Insurance U.S. Open” joke.
When the dust settled four players found themselves in a playoff at 9-under: J.B. Holmes, Harris English, Day, and the surprising Scott Stallings. Stallings and Day made charges on the back nine, while the other two faltered.
English looked to be in control when he birdied 10,11, and 13, but consecutive bogeys offset his momentum. He needed another birdie on 18 to squeak into the playoff. Meanwhile Holmes, who was tied with English entering Sunday at -9, couldn’t find the putt to clinch his fourth career victory.
He played the back nine in an even par 36.
When Stallings chipped in four eagle on 14, and Day made back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16, the stage was set for drama. And the man most would trust in a sudden death situation delivered. Day birdied the par-5 18 along with Holmes, while Stallings and English carded 5’s. A par at 16 did the trick for the fourth-ranked player in the world.
It’s easy to say Day needed a victory to further stamp his claim as either a rising or established star depending on your perspective.
The truth is, he’s battled nagging injuries in the wrist and thumb that have derailed other young careers. Point to Anthony Kim’s character issues all you want, but physical ailments troubled him before any parties did. But Day continues to come back.
Now he has a victory at a major championship course. Will a major come next?