Date: June 19, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes, Oakmont

Day given hope – and a sleep-in

It wouldn’t quite rival Lazarus, but Jason Day is plotting something that’s right in that famous neighbourhood.

The world No.1 admitted today that he thought his first-round 76 had “killed” him.

But his stellar third-round 66 not only provided the kiss of life to his own chances, it undoubtedly sent a shiver up the collective spine of the seven people left above him on the leaderboard.

And, in an added bonus for the Queenslander who sits at one over par, all of those bar Branden Grace (one under) are yet to complete their third rounds of this storm-plagued US Open at Oakmont, near Pittsburgh.

That means they all, including leader Shane Lowry at five under, will be back early on Sunday (Pennsylvania time) to finish up while Day punches out the “Zs” in his nearby motorhome.

“That really does help a lot, especially in the temperature that we're playing in. Today I had to wake up at 4:45am, whereas (most of) those guys didn't,” Day said.

“Tomorrow, I'm not sure what time the restart is for these guys, but … they're going to be waking up around 5am as well (to) play the rest of their holes.

“It's going to be warm tomorrow and then have to come back and play 18 holes in the afternoon.

“So that may … physically and mentally be a little bit tougher on those guys that have to come back and finish in the (morning).”

That was as close mind games as Day would get after his round.

He pretty much passed on questions that could have led towards whether his rivals would be nervy with his name finally on the leaderboard after his earlier woes.

And he didn’t really hammer home what, from the outside, appears to be a big mental edge: that none of those left above him have won a major championship.

“Depends how they look at it. If they want to go out there and they think they're ready to win a major, then it's obviously going to be tougher because they're going to be focused and ready,” he said, somewhat cryptically.

“But I don't think it matters in times like this when it's just mentally and physically gruelling. Not only when you're out there, but when you get back, you're always thinking about it, (even) at night time.

“It's good to have a major under my belt, but I'm just trying to win the tournament.

“I think I've given myself an opportunity at getting there. We'll see how those guys go in the morning and hopefully, I'll be there.”

Day was clearly happy at reviving his chances after his equal worst score in a US Open, his opening 76.

“Shooting 69 in the second round and then 66 today – (if you) shoot anything under par here, you're definitely moving up a lot,” he said.

“The first round kind of killed me here. But hopefully I give myself an opportunity tomorrow.

“I just wanted to play hard and fast for it and I think the harder the better, like a normal US Open Sunday should be.

“I think it would be fun for everyone. Even though it is hard and stressful, I just enjoy those times.”

Day said he didn’t have a number in mind tomorrow, but that his halfway target of even par – which he briefly reached for the first time since the event’s first hole when he eagle the fourth late in his round – would require readjustment.

But not too much on what are expected to be lightning fast greens tomorrow.

“I think Shane's playing some pretty good golf now. But I can't be aggressive out there and start firing at pins and making silly mental errors.

“If I can get to even par, great. If I can get to one under, great.

“I've got to just kind of check the boxes and try and take them as they come.

“Hopefully, at the end of the day, I'm under par somewhere and that definitely gives me a shot.”