Date: March 21, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Day magic keeps Aussies on a roll

It’s official, Australia is now dominating the US PGA Tour.

Jason Day won his eighth career title on the world’s biggest tour this morning, pulling off a stupendous sand save for par and a one-stroke victory over American Kevin Chappell.

Day had been far from his electrifying best throughout a rollercoaster final round, but a sensational birdie on the 17th and clutch hands up the last proved enough at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida.

Remarkably, it was Day’s fifth wins in his past 12 starts on US PGA Tour, dating back to the Canadian Open in July last year.

The victory also took him back within 0.3 points of Jordan Spieth in the race for No.1 world ranking.

It was also the third Aussie victory in four weeks after fellow Queenslander Adam Scott peeled off the Honda Classic and WGC Cadillac Championship.

Scott again finished well, a closing 69 marred only by a double-bogey on the last hole as he finished T12 at nine under, while Marc Leishman also had a 69 to finish T17 at eight under.

But the round belonged to Day, whose front nine included three uncharacteristic bogeys, but whose back nine was enough for a closing 70 to finish at 17 under.

Day, who received a text message from good mate Tiger Woods before his round, said it had been very pleasing to win while not playing his best golf.

“I just ground it out today and it wasn’t the best day I’ve had, but to be able to get it done when I wasn’t quite on (was great),” he said.

Day began with a chip-in birdie on the second and looked on as his lead blew out to three. But errant long approach shots on the second and fourth were compounded by a pulled second into the water on the par-five sixth hole and he looked in trouble.

Chappell, Henrik Stenson and playing partner Troy Merritt all held or shared the lead during a tumultuous back nine, but all fell away in the closing minutes.

Chappell, still seeking his first PGA Tour victory, stood on the last tee with a one-stroke lead over Day, but carved his drive right and was forced to lay up on the tough par four.

The American, who heard Day’s birdie roar on the 17th behind him, couldn’t catch up and his eventual bogey cost him the lead.

Stenson drowned his approach to the 16th, then Merritt, who’d twice chipped in for birdies on the back nine, followed suit on the last to make it a two-horse race.

Day then blocked his drive right, but had a good enough lie to take on the water in front of the green and blasted his approach into the back bunker.

From 30m, the ice-cool Queenslander knocked his third from the sand to just over 1m and calmly rolled in the par putt to trigger celebrations with caddie Col Swatton, wife Ellie and children Dash and Lucy on the 18th green.