Date: July 20, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes @ St Andrews

WRAP: Day stares down Spieth, immortality

Jason Day desperately wants “immortality” – but a man who seemingly has a mortgage on arguably the greatest slice of golf history stands as his greatest threat.

Day played his way into Open Championship contention today with a blemish-free 67 on the Old Course to share the lead of the year’s third major.

But he will tomorrow be paired with a foe who already has the first two in his keeping and an almost mesmeric hold on the field.

Jordan Spieth, the American who will simply not lie down in major championships, carved his own brilliant 66 today to vault into the mix.

That he starts one behind Day, Irish amateur Paul Dunne (the youngest amateur to lead through three rounds since Bobb Jones  in 1927) and 2010 Open champ Louis Oosthuizen is almost immaterial in Day’s eyes.

“He’s the heavy favourite,” Day said of Spieth, the winner of this year’s Masters and US Open crowns as he bids to be the first winner of golf’s Grand Slam in its current format.

“Everyone knows it. I just know that he’s going to be up there, regardless of what I do.”

It would also be folly to rule out the joint leaders, particularly South African Oosthuizen who has shone now for six of his past seven major championship rounds and a past Open winner at St Andrews.

But sparked by Victorian Marc Leishman’s tournament-best early 64 today, the pack chased and flew by overnight leader Dustin Johnson, who had just one birdie in a round of 75 he’d do well to forget.

So many red-hot contenders are there tomorrow that 14 players are within three shots of the 12-under lead – and the worst of their scores today was 70.

The curveball, in a week of many as the The Open heads for just its second Monday finish in its 144th staging, could again be the weather.

Almost certain rain and strengthening winds are forecast for the Scottish east coast and after losing about 14 hours of play combined on Friday and Saturday, it’s probably fitting the weather has one more say.

It’s long been thought by many that Day, 27, would win a major championship and he’s been close so many times with eight top-10 finishes since 2010.

That it could occur on a British links, especially on a bleak Monday evening, was probably never in the script.

But the Queenslander couldn’t care less how it comes – only that it does eventually come.

“It would be nice to put my name on the (Claret) Jug,” Day let himself dream aloud.

“We’re just trying to chase that bit of immortality.

“That’s probably the best way to put it – just that you’re stuck in history at that moment.

“And you know that (on) that year, that person’s name on that jug is immortal in some way.

“It’d just be great to able to have that piece of history and that glory that goes along with it.”

Day didn’t tear apart the Old Course in his normal attacking style today, rather picking systematically through his chances.

Bar a couple of makeable birdie tries midway through his back nine, not much went away the script.

And he says that attitude, combined with his experience of this situation, is the key to his shot at history tomorrow.

“I’ve been in contention at major championships (and) I felt like I've learnt a lot,” the world No.9 said.

“There's going to be a lot of wind, there's going to be a lot of rain, there's going to be a lot of guys that are going to shoot low scores (and) it's a pretty tight leaderboard.

“(So I’ll be) trying not to get so absorbed and attached to the leaderboard, and pretty much (do) what I did today – just to really stay patient and let the birdies come to you.

“I think I need to just embrace it more. But it's hard to stay present in situations like this (and) it's hard to not get out in front of yourself, especially tonight when you're thinking and you're lying in bed.”

One sleep from immortality.



-12 Day, Oosthuizen, Dunne

-11 Spieth

-10 Harrington

-9 Scott, Leishman, Rose, Garcia, Z Johnson, Goosen, Streb, Willett

-8 Bowditch, Schwartzel, Pepperell