DUBLIN, Ohio – Somehow Jason Day has developed a reputation for pulling out of pro-ams. The truth is, Day’s withdrawal because of a fever Wednesday at the Memorial Tournament was just the third time that he’s missed a pro-am that he’s been scheduled to play on the PGA Tour.
The first time was at the 2015 Barclays, when he cited a bad back. He also withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open earlier this year because of his back.
What do those two events have in common? Well, Day won both events. And after a second straight 4-under 68 Friday at Muirfield Village, Day is in position, tied for the lead at 8 under when he finished play early Friday afternoon, to complete a unique three-peat.
And at a course that has given him fits for most of his career.
“Just warming up,” said Day, who has just one top-25 in nine starts at the Memorial.
“I haven’t had great finishes here, so the expectation of me playing is a little bit different this year. I’m here to win.”
Day described the illness that kept him out of Wednesday’s pro-am as “more of a man cold.” He said he played 18 holes on Sunday before coming down with a fever in the low-100s. He also had a sore throat and no appetite, and lost 10 pounds, dropping from 206 to 196.
Even though the fever subsided by Tuesday evening, he decided to play it safe.
“I feel like I’m dying every time I’m sick, so my wife (Ellie) just looks at me and laughs at me,” said Day, who admitted he felt “shaky” during Thursday’s opening round but was able to put together his seventh under-par round in his last nine trips to the Memorial. He now has eight in his last 10.
Day has shown quite the improvement at Jack’s Place in the last two years. He tied for 15th a year ago to post his first finish better than T-27 in nine trips to Muirfield Villages.
The Columbus-area resident can’t pinpoint a reason for the struggles. Maybe it’s because the course requires a lot of 3-woods, which wasn’t a strength of Day’s earlier in his career? Maybe it was the pressure of having to play well on his “home course,” even if he doesn’t play it often?
Whatever the reason, it does annoy Day, and he’s hoping to turn the tide for good.
“This is my home course and I think I just sucked on it for a long time,” Day said. “I don’t think there was any reason why, I just didn’t really play well, but I’m hopefully I can change that, because I feel different this year. … I’ve got even two wins under my belt this year already, so you’re not trying to come into a week like this if you have no wins and trying to get something going or push it a little bit.
“On a golf course like this, you can’t short-side yourself when the greens are quick and when you’re trying to push things and trying to get things going for the season, you can typically get yourself into some pretty poor positions. I think that over the last 10 years it’s taken me awhile, I think I know where the bad positions are now.”
Four once, Day could find himself in the very best of positions on the leaderboard come Sunday evening at the Memorial.