Jason Day breaks five-year winless drought, wins 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson
Rain pelted Jason Day as he lined up his approach shot from the fairway.
With a wedge in hand, he fired at the back right pin on the par-5 18th hole at TPC Craig Ranch. His ball landed just right of the flag, took one small hop and then spun back to two feet.
It has been five years since Jason Day won on the PGA Tour, but his winless drought is over. Day was phenomenal Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, carding a 9-under 62 to win by one shot at 23 under in the same tournament he picked up his first career win 13 years ago.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Day said. “I came into the week after missing last week’s cut, and I was kind of fed up with having to go over like a lot of technical thoughts with my swing. So I just decided I’m just going to go out and just try and play some golf.”
For Day, it’s his 13th PGA Tour victory and first since the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship.
Si Woo Kim, who played with Day in the penultimate pairing, birdied the 18th, as well, to momentarily tie the Aussie at 22 under, but Day tapped in his approach in a steady downpour before walking off the green and embracing his family.
“I was very close to calling it quits,” Day said of his thoughts during his struggles. “I never told my wife that, but I was OK with it just because it was a very stressful part of my life.
“Ellie (Jason’s wife), she never gave up on me trying to get back to the winner’s circle again. She just always was pushing me to try and get better.
“Yeah, I don’t know. It feels strange to be sitting here. I don’t know how else to explain it.”
It rained off and on throughout the day, but a downpour started once Day’s group reached the 18th tee. There were even claps of thunder as the final group approached the 18th green.
Day, 35, started his round with a pair of pars before three straight birdies on Nos. 3-5. He then birdied the ninth to turn in 4-under 32.
A birdie on 10 moved him to 19 under and into a six-way tie for the lead. But it was his chip-in birdie from the fringe on 12 that gave him the solo lead and put him in the driver’s seat the rest of the way.
“A couple years ago with all the stress — the stuff that was going on personally, it’s just strange that all that stuff kind of adds up and it’s nice to be able to — feeling like I’m on the other side of that,” Day said.
Austin Eckroat, one of the three 54-hole leaders, had an eagle putt on the final hole to tie Day, but he left it short. Nevertheless, the 24-year-old Tour rookie made the birdie to finish at 22 under and closed with a bogey-free 6-under 65 for his best finish on Tour. He led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting for the week.
“I felt great all day,” Eckroat said. “Slept good last night, really surprised myself with how I felt. When I came out and birdied the first hole, it really settled the nerves a little bit. Everything was solid, and I really felt like I played well enough to win.
“It’s just hard to beat a guy that goes out and shoots 9 under. A lot of positives to build off of.”
Marty Dou and Ryan Palmer, the other co-leaders, each shot 3-under 68 to finish at 19 under and T-7.
C.T. Pan matched Day with a 62, which including a pair of eagles on the back nine. It also was the lowest round of his PGA Tour career by two shots.
Dallas native Scottie Scheffler, who would’ve moved to No. 1 in the world with a victory, shot a bogey-free 6-under 65 on Sunday, but he finished T-5 at 20 under.
Now, Day heads to Rochester, New York, site of the 105th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club. Day won the 2015 PGA at Whistling Straits.
Source: GolfWeek USA