Golfweek PostGame: Jason Day triumphs at The Barclays

On Wednesday, Jason Day withdrew from the pro-am at The Barclays after straining his fragile back while moving an item under his motor coach the previous night. If it’s not one thing, it seems to be another with Day, but rest assured, there’s no truth to the rumor that he tweaked it again carrying around all that money in his hip pocket after recording his third victory in his last four starts.

The 27-year-old Day of Australia fired 63-62 on the weekend at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J., en route to a six-stroke romp over Henrik Stenson.

It was just two weeks ago at the PGA Championship that Day put to rest any concerns that he couldn’t close, or win the big one. He set a major-championship scoring record of 20 under in defeating Jordan Spieth to win his first major. Prior to that, Day also rallied on Sunday to win the RBC Canadian Open in late July, and captured the Farmers Insurance Open in a playoff in February.

Day’s recent run of excellence is on the heels of one of his greatest failures. He departed St. Andrews with more heartache when his last gasp effort at 18 to join the British Open playoff ran out of steam inches from the cup. Afterwards, he stood mute, tears coursing down his cheeks. “Pure frustration,” he said.

As a reminder, he kept using the St. Andrews cover from his yardage, but he also took away the confidence that he was capable of handling the pressure of major championship golf.

“Something really clicked for me at The Open Championship,” Day said. “Ever since, I just felt a lot more calm on the golf course. I felt like it was my time. Like mentally I felt like, ‘You paid your dues, now it’s time to go out and win tournaments.’ ”

Though the final result at The Barclays made it look like Day’s victory was a walk in the park, Stenson managed to make birdies on the 13th and 14th holes to climb within two shots. But Day recovered from fanning his drive into the trees at the 13th and then seemingly holed a football-field worth of putts coming in, beginning with a 30-footer for birdie at the par-3, 14th and a 35-foot bomb at 15.

“I don’t know what the footage was on what I holed today,” he said afterward.

“6,000,” a reporter guessed, tongue firmly set in cheek.

“It felt like it,” he said, with a smile.

With his fourth victory of the season, Day surged to the top of the FedEx Cup standings, and he relished the possibilities of earning the $10 million bonus prize like a man finding a wallet on the street.

“There’s three more tournaments I would love to win,” he said, “and I’d love to win the FedExCup.”

Day, who has never shied away from discussing his dream to achieve World No. 1, closed the gap but remains ranked third behind Jordan Spieth, who lost the top spot after a two-week reign to Rory McIlroy. Next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship near Boston has the makings of another classic encounter of Day, Spieth and McIlroy, with the dream scenario of all three having a mathematical chance to get to No. 1 at TPC Boston.

“I think I have the opportunity to get to No. 1 if I play some good golf over the next three or four weeks,” Day said. “It’s been a goal of mine. But it’s going to be tough to catch.”

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FORECADDIE: For most his round Saturday, Jason Bohn waved to the crowd, even though they were mostly cheering for his playing competitor, Jason Dufner.

“The Duf” merely smiled, because he knows what most of his colleagues know and what The Man Out Front knows, that Bohn is one of the most fun-loving guys on tour.

At the PGA Championship, Bohn was paired with Phil Mickelson in Round 3 and the forecaddie was there to witness rousing cheers for the lefthander. Off every tee box and up to each green, the Whistling Straits crowd screamed for Mickelson. So, when during one brief pause off of one particular tee box, a woman yelled out, “Go, Jason,” Bohn didn’t miss a beat. He waved toward the woman and shouted, “Thanks, mom.”

Mickelson broke out laughing.

But in Sunday’s final round of The Barclays, the buzz around the 14th green was for real and it was focused around Bohn. That’s because that very special face in the crowd, the inimitable Donald Trump, had ventured out to see one of his favorite players.

“Hello, Jason,” Trump said. The crowd turned to watch Bohn look up, smile, and return the wave. “How are you, Donald?”

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NUMBERS: Brian Harman failed to make a birdie on any of the par-3s at Plainfield Country Club. He made 12 pars, 1 bogey, 1 double-bogey — and 2 holes-in-one, both in Sunday’s final round.

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THEY CALLED IN REGRETS: Only 119 of the 125 eligible players teed it up at The Barclays and of those six who withdrew, three are done for the season — Francesco Molinari, Retief Goosen, and Erik Compton. Sergio Garcia, who started the playoffs at No. 31, but fell to 43 after skipping The Barclays, will also bypass the Deutsche Bank Championship. He’ll remain in the top 70, however, and reportedly play in the BMW Championship.

Rory McIlroy and Louis Oosthuizen are expected to play in the DBC, after having skipped The Barclays.

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TRIVIA: When The Barclays was played at Plainfield CC for the first time, it was cut short to 54 holes because of a Hurricane named what?

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ELIMINATED: Of the 25 who failed to qualify for the Deutsche Bank Championship, the most notable was Adam Scott. He missed the cut at The Barclays, fell to 106 in the FEC standings, and will see his streak of five straight Tour Championship come to a puzzling end.

Scott, who was 94th at the start of the week, was one of eight players who arrived at The Barclays inside the top 100, but fell to elimination. The others were John Peterson, John Huh, Jason Kokrak, Padraig Harrington, Greg Owen, Adam Hadwin and Charl Schwartzel.

The eight players who moved inside the top were: Zac Blair, Johnson Wagner, Spencer Levin, Mark Wilson, Luke Donald, Carlos Ortiz, Camilo Villegas and Jason Dufner.

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THE LIST: The Barclays is the one PGA Tour tournament that moves around to various courses without much of a hitch. It’s a tribute to a staff overseen by Peter Mele, and while it keeps the golf fans in the New York / New Jersey area happy, it certainly keeps players on their toes because you’d be right if you guessed that they can’t ever agree on which of the venues is their favorite and which is the one they dislike. Players are all over the map.

For reference, here’s the lineup of courses that have been used since the playoffs began in 2007 and the future schedule:

    • Shortened to 54 holes due to hurricane.

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QUOTABLE: “Yeah, I took a minute and two seconds when I only had 40 seconds.” — Bubba Watson, when asked if he made adjustments with his wedges to counter the beguiling greens at Plainfield Country Club. His reference point was having just watched Jordan Spieth hit a wedge that came off the front of the green and roll back 90 feet.

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TRIVIA ANSWER: Hurricane Irene

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MISCELLANY: Lee Westwood (69 — 283, T-58) was among those whose season came to an end, as he sits 109 in FedEx Cup points. It’s the second straight year that he failed to make it past The Barclays and he’s still only made it to one Tour Championship . . . . . Tony Finau’s hot start (65-69) fizzled out as he shot 71-70 on the weekend and finished T-16 . . . . . At 7 under, Carlos Ortiz was just four off the lead to start, but he made quadruple-bogey at the first hole and bogeyed eight and nine to go out in 40. He shot 74 — 277, finished T-24, but moved from 112th to 83 in the FEC standings to get into the Deutsche Bank Championship.

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ON THE TEE: No matter which of the seven or eight routes you take, it’s about a four-and-a-half-hour ride in a northeasterly direction to get to TPC Boston in Norton, Mass., which is where the FedEx Cup playoffs will set up this week. The 13th edition of the Deutsche Bank Championship is for the the top 100 players in the FedEx Cup standings, though already one competitor — Sergio Garcia — has called in his regrets. Chris Kirk is the defending champion . . . . . The European Tour will move to Skolkovo GC in Moscow for the M2M Russian Open.

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