AKRON, Ohio – Jason Day wrapped up his first round at the Bridgestone Invitational – another ho-hum 67 for the World No. 1 – and headed to go fishing. The other night he caught a largemouth bass while caddie Colin Swatton settled for a brim. Yet another victory for Day, he boasted.
Such is life in the fast lane for the entitled at the no-cut, 61-man (now down to 58) World Golf Championships event at Firestone Country Club. Daniel Berger took one swing, a 307-yard tee shot, withdrew citing a shoulder surgery and took home $50,500. The money is unofficial and he won’t receive any FedEx Cup points, but reportedly it spends the same. William McGirt, whose previous first-place check before earning seven figures at the Memorial in May was for the grand sum of $16,000 at an eGolf Tour event, is learning how the other half lives.
“You can come out here and kind of – I won’t say not care, but not have to worry about making the Friday cut,” said McGirt, the first-round leader after shooting 6-under 64. “You know, the big thing is just going out and playing golf and having fun, do your thing. But it does give you a chance to kind of work on some stuff, knowing that there’s no cut that you have to worry about making.”
Day may have kicked back with his fishing rod after his round, but don’t let the laid-back approach fool you. He may be one of the most talented players on the PGA Tour, but his real secret is his willingness to outwork the guy next to him. And Day looks at this week as a chance to extend his lead as World No. 1.
“You’re guaranteed four days, and you can come and relax and just get your money and walk off, but I don’t want to do that,” Day said. “These are kind of the weeks where I get to have some fun and go fish, and then obviously come in and not have to worry about making a cut or anything like that, even if you are playing bad(ly). You can just focus on trying to win.”
Another guy in the field with no quit is World No. 2 Jordan Spieth, who is looking up at Day on the leaderboard, too. Spieth was scuffling along at 2 over through 14 holes, missing fairways and greens with regularity, when he rolled off four straight birdies to finish his round.
“Today was a big round for me. I won the mental battle with myself,” Spieth said. “That’s one of the happiest 2-unders I’ve ever shot, for sure. I wasn’t supposed to shoot 2 under today.”
Before their afternoon tee time, Spieth’s caddie Michael Greller said if they can shoot 2 under in all four rounds, they would win the event. In Spieth’s mind, he is on pace to hold the trophy on Sunday. So is Day, who wants nothing more than to reel in his third victory of the season.
“Some guys are happy to be in the field and stuff like that, but if you just give it that extra little bit, you can kind of pick up a cheap one,” Day said. “Obviously, this is not cheap. It’s just like, there’s less people here. You have less people to try and beat, and if you can just really focus down and mentally prepare for that, I think you can definitely pick one up.”