Jason Day’s remarkable 12-month run came to an unceremonious ending at Firestone today in the time it took him to play four disastrous holes.
Tied for the lead in the Bridgestone Invitational as he stood on the tee at the par-five 16th hole, Day had a three wood in his hand and a strong grip on the trophy, despite a bogey at the 15th where he lipped out.
His main challenger was Dustin Johnson, the US Open champion, a hole ahead.
But Day, who had looked imperious to that point, imploded.
A hooked tee shot, a chip-out that went too far and then a punch lay-up that trickled into the pond came around the same time that Johnson holed a birdie putt at the 17th hole.
Day took a double-bogey seven at a hole he would have felt confident of making birdie, Johnson suddenly had the lead, and Day could not make up the lost ground. A bogey at the 18th, where he almost whiffed his second shot from deep rough, completed a shattering day for the world No. 1.
His last four holes were bogey, double bogey, par, bogey, giving back four shots to the field.
With seven wins in the past year, the Australian has seemed bulletproof at times. But golf has a funny way of getting even. It has been some time since he so comprehensively threw away a tournament win, although he will head to the Open Championship at Royal Troon with some demons in his psyche.
Johnson, who secured his first major victory at Oakmont a couple of weeks ago, raced home with a 66 to leap into a No. 2 world ranking. Having said that a monkey was off his back after he won at Oakmont, he duly proved it to be the case.
Not even a bogey at the last, when his drive went left and his approach clipped a tree, could stop him.
Day closed with a two-over par 72 after beginning the day in a share of the lead with American Scott Piercy, and slid to a tie for third.
A chip-in eagle at the second hole, a par-five, gave him the outright lead and he seemed in control until the 16th, even making a great, curling par-saver from the fringe at the 11th. But a lip-out bogey at the 15th hole was the beginning of his troubles, and the 16th was a disaster.
As for Johnson, he was brilliant again. ”I played good this weekend,” said the American. “I felt like I drove it really well, had a lot of shots in the fairway which you’ve got to do around here, especially with the course being firm. I felt like I rolled the ball really well with the putter today.”
It was his second win in succession, the belated arrival of a megastar of the game.
“I feel great, he said. “I feel like my game is where it has been all year, I feel like I’ve been playing really solid all year, driving it great, wedging it good. It’s just I haven’t been putting quite as well as I’d like to, and the last couple of weeks I’ve putted a bit better and the game shows it.”
Adam Scott closed with a 68 to finish tied-10th, and Matt Jones also finished strongly to tie for 16th.Golf