DUBLIN, Ohio – Jason Day has never had so much as one top-10 finish in the Memorial Tournament, not even when he was ranked No. 1 in the world and despite the fact that he now makes his home in suburban Columbus and considers Muirfield Village Golf Club his home course.
That circumstance doesn’t bother him, however. Not in the least.
“It annoys me. Yes, it annoys me a lot.”
OK, so it bothers him.
But after his second straight 68 Friday in the 43rd edition of Jack Nicklaus’ prestigious invitational, Day is in his best position yet through 36 holes, sitting just a stroke behind the leaders at 8-under 136.
Already a winner twice this season after a winless 2017 campaign, Day carded six birdies against two bogeys despite some wayward iron play. He ranked 97th in strokes gained-approach the green in the 120-player field, but continued solid putting action has allowed him to shoot consecutive rounds in the 60s here for the first time since 2010 when he opened 67-69 but drifted to T-33.
“This is my home course, and I think I just sucked on it for a long time,” said Day, whose career scoring average in nine previous starts is 72.03. “I don't think there was any reason why, I just didn't really play well, but hopefully I can change that, because I feel different this year.
“I've got two wins under my belt this year already, so [I’m] 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.”
Day, 29, has got a lighter step in his stride this week, and not because he appears poised to improve on his T-15 finish last year, by far his best performance. The Australian native contracted a virus earlier in the week – he thinks on Sunday when he snuck in a quick 18-hole practice round – and missed the pro-am with a fever that hovered around 100 degrees. He had a sore throat, didn’t feel like eating, and lost 10 pounds in two days.
The weight of expectation has been heavy on him in past years as well. He couldn’t disagree.
“I think possibly a little bit,” he said. “I think everyone's like, ‘Oh, you should play good, it is your home course.’ Well I've only played twice here before the tournament, so it's like, it is my home course, but I really don't play here too often. But saying that, I know the course well enough to come out and play well, so it's not an excuse. But, yeah, I just, I don't know why, why I haven't … I mean I could look at my stats and break it down and tell you exactly what, but I just don't have the stats.”
Third in the FedEx Cup standings and ranked eighth in the world, Day doesn’t need stats to tell him his game is back on track. But some numbers worth highlighting include his PGA Tour lead in strokes gained-putting and his rank of fifth in scoring average at 69.522.
But numbers aren’t as important as confidence.
“I think that I feel good about my game,” he said. “I've had two wins this year … obviously that eases kind of tensions coming into it. I'm here to win and … I just feel a little bit different this year. My game feels a little bit different.”
And if he keeps that up, boy, are some guys going to be annoyed. They’re going to be annoyed a lot.