Date: July 21, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes @ St Andrews

Day, Scott suffer in dignity

Jason Day and Adam Scott have been here before; they know the associated pain all too well.

The Queenslanders were neck deep in an enthralling final round of a major championship, but again fell agonisingly short.

Their own final assessments of their T4 and T10 finishes in weeks to come will be more complex.

But in the brutal world of media and armchair analysis, the public will today address a couple of critical moments of the Open Championship that neither will recall fondly.

Day, although never having held a share of the lead, was always within touching distance and had a chance to join the playoff with a birdie try on the 72nd hole.

Almost unbelievably to his legion of fans, he left it short, just inches from his much-sought shot at “immortality”.

“I hit a good putt. All I wanted to do was put a good stroke on it. I didn't want to blast it way past the hole and hit it through the break, so I just wanted to hit my normal putt and try to hole it,” Day explained after finishing at 14 under with a closing 70.

“Unfortunately I thought it was a little bit faster, and it just pulled up short.”

Scott, conversely, held a share of the lead for several holes after a blistering six-hole stretch from the fifth hole yielded five birdies.

His critics will say that a missed par putt on the 15th from inside 30cm was his breaking point.

The man himself pointed to an errant approach to the par-five 14th that finished in a back trap and in a position from which par was extremely unlikely, despite his best effort.

Either way, both holes ended in bogeys that abruptly ended a round that had promised so much.

Scott unravelled with a bogey on the 17th hole, then a double on the last after carving his drive out of bounds right – his five-over stretch in the closing five holes dropping him to a 10-under-par finish.

“That (bogey on the 14th) wasn't the end of the world. But to miss a really short putt on the next, I don't really have an explanation for that,” Scott said.

“I just went up to tap it in from a foot and it lipped out. Just one of those stupid things that happens – and that really put me in a tough position to where finishing with a handful of threes was unlikely on a day like today.

“It's a tough finish, and I just didn't execute the last five holes.”

Scott, who memorably won the 2013 Masters as much by masterfully keeping his nerve as his sublime golf, now has six top-10 finishes in the subsequent 10 majors.

Day also has six in that time, including the third behind his mate at Augusta National.

Both rightly claim that being in contention is the only thing they ask of themselves.

Both insist their time in the major spotlight will come (again in Scott’s case).

And both gave remarkably composed press conferences that reflect their intellect and professionalism.

But behind all the polite answers, they were both bleeding.

The cameras trained on Scott’s eyes and typically dazzling smile.

All the while his hands were trembling.

Day, similarly, was hurt badly by another chance that slipped away, the rueful shaking of a slumped head away a clear indicator as he walked away.

Don’t let the slick answers fool you – these guys, our top-ranked players, were completely gutted.

Even Day, a relative pup at age 27, knows there are finite chances to win these titles that define careers – his mate Tiger Woods the prime example. 

Still, the answers to the immediate questions remained polished, at least publicly.

Day refused to blame a shot the high winds cost him on the 13th green moments before the 10-hour delay was called on Saturday.

Remarkably, that was the third and final bogey of a week dominated by shoddy weather.

He closed without dropping a shot in 41 quality holes of golf – yet still bafflingly to him, he came up short.

“I've been working very hard to try and accomplish my first major and it's a little frustrating with how it finished.

“But I've been in contention at major championships a lot now, and it just shows I'm doing the right things, and I can't look at it as a negative.

“I'm just a little frustrated because I just walked off the course. Give it time so I can just sit down and look at what the positives were and move on from there and just try and get better.

“It's just something that I really want to do is I really want to have that shot at immortality. It'll soon come my way. I've just got to be patient with it.”

Scott, even before regulation play finished, predicted that 15 under would have worked for him – indeed that was the playoff requirement.

Having reached that figure in the lead on the 10th hole only added to his anguish.

“I was six under (for the round) and I tied for the lead. I kind of levelled myself with where everyone was and that's exactly what I had to do,” Scott said.

“I knew from that point on, I was just going to have to play a great nine holes to have a shot at it. I felt that was even to two under from that point.

“It was playing really tough at times, straight into the wind, playing long, and I made my mistake on 14 with a poor shot in there and compounded that continuously coming in.

“(I’m) disappointed the way I played the last five holes for sure. I could have done a lot better than that.

“It's a shame not to get in there and finish with a shot, that's for sure, but maybe it was too much to ask today.”

Sadly, that proved correct.

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