Jason Day played the customary Royal Troon round today at the Open Championship.
He was all over the front nine, rolling in four birdies and having the crowd upbeat as he climbed on to the leaderboard. Then just as soon as some optimism returned to his game, the much tougher back nine chopped him up with its fierce left-to-right winds, he hit a shank into a sponsors' area, and he gave back all four of the shots that he picked up.
By the end of the third round, it was clear that there would be no Australian winner this year, with the world No.1 Day being the best of a moderate performance at one over par, well off the lead.
Colin Montgomerie, a member of Troon and a local, said this week that the correct par figures for the course would be three under for the gentle front nine and three over for the tricky back side, and it is hard to argue. Day certainly will not; he has shot seven-over for the back nine over the three days.
“Yes, the back is tough,” Day said.
“I've got sand in my eyes still from the 18th hole, so that's a nice one. I mean, I played great. I could have been six or seven under on the front side. Then turned (on to) the back side, and the 10th hole with the bogey kind of stopped my momentum.
“It's obviously very hard to get momentum back up when you're playing that back side – I haven't had a birdie on the back side this week.
“Played it, I don't know how many over I've played; it's been terrible. That's why I'm not in the tournament right now. So if I would have played the back side a little bit better this week, I think I would be right around the lead.”
Day began at one over, thinking if he could shoot five under for the day he might be back in the tournament, but it was not to be. Through the front nine in 32, he immediately bogeyed the 10th and then hit a shank out of the rough on the 12th hole that ended in a sponsors' area. His most recent shank, he said, came on the eighth hole at Augusta National in April.
“I mean, everyone talks but it's not that bad. It was a bad shot, but it's not that bad. I can understand why; we've got three layers on. We've got wind we're dealing with and hitting it out of the rough. It would have been nice to actually hit it straight there because I think I would have made par. It was kind of an easy shot and I just shanked it straight right.”
Adam Scott had a tough day, taking three double-bogeys in his 76, while Scott Hend (+7) had a 77. Beyond Day, Matt Jones (four over) is next best after a 75, while Marc Leishman (+5) had a 75 that was marred by a triple-bogey at the Postage Stamp, the par-three eighth and Greg Chalmers struggled to a 77 to sit at seven over.