Date: April 08, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Day: Four bad holes among terrific golf

Jason Day grinned when he slightly blocked his third shot to the 15th.

He wasn’t smiling half an hour later.

The Queenslander had been coasting along at five under with a swirling Augusta wind seemingly in his sails when, just one behind leader Jordan Spieth, he chose the seemingly prudent path of laying up on the par-5 15th.

His approach still left him with a birdie chance, but critically well above the hole.

Three putts later, a bogey meant his sails were no longer fluttering.

An errant tee shot on 16 soon had them, like his ball, well and truly wet and going backwards.

The world No.1 took a penalty drop, but then made another blocked pitch for his third to the famous par three green – again to a penal perch well above the hole.

Three more putts later, this time with a triple-bogey aboard, he had fallen off the leaderboard in 10 troubling minutes.

A tugged drive up 17 meant a second to another disaster zone behind the exposed green and facing a large bank – another hurdle he couldn’t overcome and another bogey dropped him back to even par.

A lucky break on his final drive – Day’s ball jumped out of the first bunker left and sat on the grass before the second trap – eased the pressure and led to a regulation par.

But by then, the gloss had been stripped from what had appeared a superb round from which to launch Australia’s assault on a second green jacket.

Day began with a spectacular long approach shot to set up eagle at the second, then by the time he’d nearly holed out his second on the par-four ninth, he’d gone out in an imperious 31.

A bogey on 10 was quickly forgotten by a great par save on 11 and a two-putt birdie on 13, with the drama ahead not even remotely on the radar.

But a back-nine 41 shows that there’s no corner on this classic course where you can hide for a few minutes if things look wobbly – even if Day later said he wasn’t fazed.

“I'm not too frustrated with how everything went.  Yeah, it's not the way I planned it out today, but I felt like I played some really good golf up until then,” he said.

“But if you get yourself out of position here at this course it's very difficult to salvage par – unfortunately starting on 15, I got myself out of position pretty good.”

Day said he didn’t want to miss right on with a left-to-right breeze on the 16th tee, but then double-crossed himself.

“You don't want to miss the green right or miss it up at the top there right, so you try and be a little bit more aggressive.  And I (had) good swing, I just pulled it a little and it went in the water.

“Then you don’t want to go there again, so you hit it right. From there, you just can't get it near the hole.  It's so hard, no matter how soft or how hard you hit it or the perfect position, it's just really difficult to get it near the hole.

“But there were only four bad holes, really, in amongst some really terrific golf.

“To be honest, I played great golf.  If I went 41 on the front side and 31 on the back side I'd be just celebrating.  Obviously it's just a number.

“I've just got to slowly try to inch my way back into this tournament if I can and be patient with myself and hopefully I'm there by Sunday.”