Date: September 21, 2015
Author: Martin Blake

Day’s triumphal march to No.1

Jason Day is the world's No.1 player for the first time.

The Queenslander cruised to a six-stroke victory at the BMW Championship in Chicago today to leapfrog Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth at the top of the rankings, achieving a lifelong dream. It is his fourth win in six tournaments.

Outwardly, it appeared a stress-free for Day, almost anti-climactic considering the gravity of the moment. There was no exclamation point, no holed-out wedge or drained 10m putt.

But after reaching a goal he set for himself as a teenager, Day confessed to a gruelling weekend.

"I felt a lot of pressure over the last two days, especially today knowing I had a six-shot lead," Day said.

"Things can happen, some guys could shoot a low score or I can shoot one, two or three over and all of a sudden I’m not No.1.

"Yesterday and today were the toughest rounds I’ve ever had to play in my entire life, knowing I had the opportunity to get to No.1.

"Stepping up and playing the way I did today was great to really understand what I’ve put into my game to get to where it is today."

"I’ve just been working so hard. And all I’ve wanted to do is win.

"That’s the mentality since the Open Championship (when he narrowly missed joining the playoff for the Claret Jug), something changed in my head.

"I felt like it was my time to start winning tournaments and ever since then it has been a phenomenal run.

"Our main goal was to get to No.1 and we understood that you had to win consistently to get to that No.1 spot.

"To be able to have that opportunity to get to No.1 and win was fantastic."

All the work had been done on the opening two days of the BMW Championship with incredible rounds of 61 and 63, followed by a smooth third-round 69. So Day earned himself a triumphal march through the final round to the world No.1 ranking having started the week at a career-high No.3.

He is just the third of his countryman to reach the landmark. Only Greg Norman and Adam Scott have done it before him among Australians, although Karrie Webb would surely have led the women's rankings early in her great career had they existed at the time.

Day shot 69 with conservative play today. There was no need for heroics in his eyes, when you start with a six-shot lead. He kept hitting greens and two-putting, waiting for someone to challenge him. But the threats never emerged.

At the par-five eighth he took his first birdie after a nice pitch, then he gave back a shot with a three-putt at the ninth, a moment that might have been worse. But each time he showed any sign of wobbling, he steadied.

At the 12th, the Australian made a great par-save after chunking a fairway bunker shot so that he was well short of the green in regulation. He needed to make a putt from 2m to keep his card in order; he did it, comfortably.

American Rickie Fowler made a run, then faltered. Daniel Berger pulled within four on the back nine, but could not sustain it. They all ran out of holes, and at the par-four 16th, Day put the hammer down. After getting lucky with his pulled tee shot and finding a decent lie, he hit a short iron to the fringe, just 5m left of the cup, and buried the birdie putt, finishing with a fist pump that said he knew he was home now, his lead back to five shots.

A superb up and down for birdie on the last extended the margin back to where it began the day — a six-shot edge — over Daniel Berger.

Day wins $US 1.485 million for his win in the third of four playoff tournaments to conclude the PGA Tour season, and his season earnings have passed $US9 million.

It is his fourth win in his past six tournaments, a stretch in which he also secured his first-ever major victory, the US PGA Championship.

Day still has the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta this week, where only the top 30 will play and the FedexCup bonus of $US10 million is on the line. He will go into that tournament ranked on top of the points list, knowing that a win guarantees him the outrageous bonus pool; even a top-five finish could be enough, depending on what the other top-ranked players do.

As a teenager gave an interview in 'Golf Digest' in which he said he wanted to usurp Tiger Woods, become world No. 1. He was criticised for this at the time, but no one is questioning him right now. Day had a dream, and today it materialised.

Of the other Australians, Steven Bowditch closed with a 66 to secure his spot in the field for the Tour Championship in Atlanta next week. It will be Queenslander Bowditch's first appearance in the season-ending tournament, a tribute to his great 2015.

Sydneysider Matt Jones also had a good day, carding a 67, but narrowly missed the field for Atlanta, finishing just outside the top 30 on the Fedex Cup points list.


Won: Canadian Open, PGA Championship, Barclays Championship, BMW Championship
Prizemoney: $US 9,174,000
Majors: Masters T28, US Open T9, Open Championship T4, PGA Championship 1.
Fedex Cup ranking: 1
World ranking: 1