Unafraid, Day looks to chase down McIlroy
Saturday, August 9, 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – At this point, no one would fault anyone in the PGA Championship of fearing Rory McIlroy a bit right now.
Don't count his playing competitor on Saturday among them.
Jason Day admits he isn't the favorite heading into the final two rounds at Valhalla, and many have written off the Aussie due to a lingering thumb issue and a bout with vertigo last week.
But he's been in this spot before, trying to chase down his first major. He has three second-place finishes in 16 major starts, as well as a third at the 2013 Masters and T-4 at the U.S. Open this year.
PHOTOS: Valhalla hole-by-hole, 2014 PGA Championship
The Jack Nicklaus-designed Valhalla Golf Club, par 71 and 7,458 yards, earns a whopping 77.6 rating and a slope of 152 from the club's back tees -- and if this week's PGA Championship tees were measured, both the rating and slope would be higher. See all 18 holes here!
He says he's learned something from those close calls.
"Just not to be scared about winning. Obviously it's hard to win. Some people can handle it, some people can't. It's OK to be uncomfortable," said Day, who will tee off with McIlroy at 3 p.m. Saturday, one shot back.
"It's OK to feel uncomfortable, and sometimes you feel like you want to run away. Sometimes you feel a bit better where you can go on and fight."
Day's ability to fight has been inconsistent because of the thumb injury that has seen him bent over in pain at multiple tournaments, although the tough Aussie has remained committed to finishing his tournaments. He revealed that he has had three MRIs on the wrist and has consulted with his doctor at least a dozen times – he did both last week.
The doctor gave him the go ahead to tee it up this week, even after his WD because of vertigo last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
"He said, 'Don't be concerned; just go out there and trust that you can work hard.' It's not 100 percent, but it will be 100 percent sooner or later," said Day, who has a T-10 and T-8 to go with two missed cuts at the PGA Championship.
His game seems to be 100 percent this week, hitting 29 of 36 greens in regulation, benefitting from 21 of 28 fairways hit. Day has only two bogeys through two days.
Those stats are a welcome sight for Day, as he has been fighting a hook since a T-4 at the U.S. Open in June. The problem was pinpointed to a strong grip, with left and right hand strong.
"From there, it's very hard; you've got two shots, you're either holding it off and blocking it right or snap-hooking it. We kind of did the work and neutraled that out, the left hand, and it's been working wonders ever since," said Day, who won the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February.
Day has always had a confidence about him that makes him dangerous in big moments, shown by his impressive track record early in his career.
"I've said it before; I just have to keep knocking on the door and hopefully it will fall my way one day," said Day. "It's either hopefully it falls my way or just knock the door down and take it."
Yep, definitely not afraid.