Jason Day won the lucrative Japanese Skins game this week in a hot field, but the bigger question about his form is to come over the next few days.
Day birdied the 18th hole to put himself on top in the made-for-television game against Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama at Narashino Country Club outside Tokyo.
He picked up $US210,000 for the trouble, made an up-and-down from a greenside trap with a six iron when the players engaged a one-club challenge at the par-five 17th, and generally played quite well.
The four days of the Toto Championship at the same venue, the first-ever US PGA Tour event to be held in Japan, will likely tell whether he is picked as a captain’s selection by Ernie Els in the International team for the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in December.
Els has four discretionary picks and is not blessed with the kind of depth that Tiger Woods has as captain on the American side, so the odds are that Day will be in the team for Royal Melbourne from 12-15 December.
But having had a quiet year and winless since May, 2018, Els would doubtless like to see some improvement from the former world No. 1. There is also Day’s less-than-great Presidents Cup record, sitting at 4-8-3 from 14 matches over three playings of the teams event.
“It was fun. It’s nice to be able to beat the calibre of player I did today,” Day said afterwards. “It was nice to be able to hole some putts coming down the stretch, hit some good shots. The short game really showed up today and that's usually my strength of my game.”
Then there is the question of Woods, who played well enough in the skins game to earn $60,000, but who hit just 10 greens in his return to golf after left knee surgery.
“I did not play well at the beginning. I hit a lot of bad shots and did not putt well,” Woods said. “Once I got into the flow of competing and feeling the round, it just got exciting. We were competitive, the banter was great, the back and forth.”
Woods also is playing the Zozo event, where he will learn for himself if he is up to playing at Royal Melbourne. He is optimistic, overall.
“This is my, what, fifth operation on it, so I understand what it takes to come back from it,” Woods said. “It's been nice to have it moving again and not having it catch and lock up like it has been. It's just wear and tear over the years. It's been stressed out for a very long time and it's nice to have it cleaned up.
“I'm excited about having this end-of-the-year run where I'm feeling much more fit and I don't have the achiness that I've been dealing with for the last couple years.”