Day in uncharted waters with scorching start at BMW Championship – ESPN
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Jordan Spieth was standing behind Conway Farms’ second green Thursday afternoon, basking in the afterglow of a second career hole-in-one that occurred just minutes earlier. His attention quickly shifted from his own prosperity to that of playing partner Jason Day, who casually knocked in a 20-foot birdie putt like it was no big deal.
“He literally doesn’t even know where he is right now,” Spieth said of Day, who has won three of his past five starts. “It’s like I’m a paid amateur just watching. It’s a joke.”
By the end of the afternoon, the joke was on everyone.
Day posted an eagle and nine birdies in his first 17 holes of the BMW Championship opening round, then boomed a tee shot 346 yards into the right rough on the par-4 ninth, before the horn sounded for inclement weather with just 44 yards potentially separating him from history.
Like the whistle blowing before the final play of a football game (nice thought, Seahawks fans?), Day’s momentum was cut short, as he’ll return Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. CT to try and hole that final shot to post the seventh 59 in PGA Tour history.
“Obviously, I want to hole it,” he said. “I wasn’t really thinking about shooting 59. I’ve obviously got an opportunity tomorrow to do it, so that’s pretty neat.”
It’s not without some precedent, either.
Two years ago, Jim Furyk posted the last 59 right here at Conway Farms. Earlier Thursday, Daniel Berger (currently in second place but still 4 strokes behind Day) holed out for eagle on that same hole. And then there’s the fact that Day has been eagle-hunting himself, making one from the fairway bunker on the first hole and nearly adding chip-ins on Nos. 7 and 8 later in the round.
There might not be a singular strategic trick to shooting 59, but much like pitching a perfect game, trying to stay in the moment and not think too much about the possibility is probably pretty helpful.
Day wasn’t thinking 59 at any time during his round — because he didn’t know it was a real possibility.
“To be honest, I thought it was par-72, so I’m sitting there going, 10-under, there’s no chance at all I can get it,” he admitted.
Not exactly. This course is actually a par-71, a fact Day didn’t learn until Spieth notified him on their final hole.
“I probably should have known that because there’s three par-5s, but I wasn’t paying attention,” Day continued. “I didn’t think I’d have an opportunity of shooting 59. Yeah, that’s kind of when he told me. He was keeping count for me.”
It’s not as if Day has much experience in this area.
His low score on the PGA Tour is 62, accomplished three times, all this year. The low score of his life? Well, ask him and he’ll insist it’s a 60, posted when he was 13 years old on an Australian course called Mount Morgan Country Club. Even that one can be disputed.
“It’s kind of like in the middle of nowhere,” he said with a laugh. “It’s not a country club; it’s in the middle of the country and it’s sand greens. I shot 60. I shot 10-under, and it was a 27-hole event, so it was kind of like I put my second nine with my third nine, and it wasn’t actually official, but that’s how I put it. I believe that I shot 60.”
This one will be official. Day will return Friday morning to post his first career 59, or his first 60 since he was 13 (sort of), or his first 61 on the PGA Tour.
He will undoubtedly remain in the lead going into the second round, seeking his fifth victory of the season, one which would give him the No. 1 world ranking for the first time in his career.
That would be some history. But first, he’ll have a chance at a different kind of history.
Day is separated from a score of 59 by just 44 yards. He’ll sleep Thursday night knowing what’s at stake. He’ll be thinking about one swing of the club for a chance at history.
At least one impressed observer thinks it will happen.
As they were walking off the course, Spieth turned to Day and said, “You’re going to hole out for a 59.”
With a smile on his face, Day replied, “Now I’m not going to do it because you said that.”
For a guy whose game is “a joke” right now, there was plenty of laughter as he left the course. When he returns Friday morning, Day might be laughing all the way into the record books.