ARDMORE, Pa. (AP) — Third place at the Masters. Tied for second at the U.S. Open.
And that’s just this year.
Jason Day’s too young to get saddled with that dreaded Best Player Never To Win a Major label, so he might as well go ahead and win one.
“As long as I keep knocking on the door,” he said Sunday, “I think I’ll win a major here soon.”
It sure looks inevitable after watching him this week at Merion Golf Club. Rounds of 70, 74, 68 and 71 can be worn liked a badge of honor at a championship in which the winning score was Justin Rose’s 1-over 281. Day finished two shots back, tied with Phil Mickelson.
“At the start of the week everyone thought we were going to rip it up,” Day said. “But I just knew that somewhere around even par was going to win it, and I just had to stick in there. So I was very patient with myself and happy with how I handled myself, and now I just got to keep giving myself shots at majors.”
The 25-year-old Day has played in five majors. He’s finished out of the top 10 only once.
The Australian debuted with a tie for 60th at the 2010 British Open. Since then, his record is the envy of many of his colleagues: tied for 10th at the 2010 PGA Championship, tied for second behind champion Charl Schwartzel at the 2011 Masters, outright second behind Rory McIlroy at Congressional in 2011.
This year, he’s the only player to finish in the top 10 in both majors.
Day spent Sunday hovering near the top, unable to break through because he kept canceling himself out. Birdie at No. 4, bogey at No. 5. Birdie at No. 10, bogey at No. 11. He was one off the lead when he got to 18, but he put his approach in the bunker and missed a 5-footer for par.
No shame there. No one birdied the finishing hole over the final two rounds. It was the shortest major championship course in nine years, but the scores were typical U.S. Open.
“I think that every club in the bag got a workout this week,” he said. “So I think that it would be sad for it not to come back (here) to a U.S. Open.”
His best shot came right after his worst one. He went from rough to creek at No. 11, then nearly put his next shot into the creek as well. But he holed out from the nasty rough for bogey.
From there, he had near misses, when he wasn’t scrambling: “Nearly made the birdie on 13. … Nearly holed a good putt on 15. … Had two good saves on 16 and 17.”
Too many near misses to win. He probably knew it when he tossed his club after the miss at 13. Or when he put both hands over his head after the miss at 15.
All of which means he’s still 14 victories behind Tiger Woods when it comes to majors. Day ended his remarks by referencing the world’s No. 1 player.
“You got to understand that, late Sunday of a U.S. Open — and U.S. Open courses are very hard — you can’t do anything but kind of grind (it) out,” Day said. “Like Tiger said at the start of the week, you just got to keep grinding those 10 footers and just grind away. So I was happy with how I played.”
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