News & ToursAugust 15, 2015

Ready or not, Jason Day will have his close-up on Sunday

HAVEN, Wis. -- Jordan Spieth will be in his pairing tomorrow, the final of the tournament. But the only thing that can stop Jason Day from winning the PGA Championship on Sunday is Jason Day.

"I haven't really looked at the leader board too much because I've just been too focused on what I need to do," Day said on Saturday night.

He's treating Whistling Straits like it owes him money. He's 15 under through three rounds; the last time the course hosted the Wanamaker Trophy, 11 under was good enough for the win.

Day's hitting pitching wedges into par-5s. What his irons are doing to the flagsticks is illegal in 15 states. He's sinking 20-footers with the nonchalance of a tap-in.

Related: The winners and losers from Day 3 at Whistling Straits

If any other golfer was in this position, tomorrow's award presentation would be an afterthought.

However, this is Jason Day we are talking about, master of the near-miss.

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To his credit, Day faced his first test late on Saturday. Standing on the 15th tee at 16 under, it looked like Day would lap the field. That is, until he left a shot in the bunker in route to a double-bogey. Then, at the par-5 16th, he took three shots around the green for a disappointing par.

Meanwhile, a certain 22-year-old was making moves in the opposite direction, dropping birdies on six of his final eight holes. Day may have not been looking at the leader board. He didn't have to; his ears were keeping him apprised.

But Day answered Spieth on the 17th, capping of a 25-foot birdie putt with a "I'm not going anywhere" roar.

"To come back with a birdie on 17, a lot of emotion came out of me," say Day after his round. He was referring his mistake on No. 15 and 16, but he could have easily been talking about his past major sins.

Earlier this week, the Australian told the media he doesn't perceive his prior shortcomings as a detriment. If anything, they're a blessing.

"The more times that I keep putting myself there, the more opportunities that I give myself, sooner or later, it's going to happen."

Day reiterated this stance Saturday night.

"I think I'll be fine. I'm not looking at it as a negative. You can't, because you've got two shots and I've played phenomenal golf leading up to this."

Unfortunately, this is an era of sports where the censure of losers is equaled to the victors' praise. If Spieth or another golfer claims the PGA Championship, they will receive their acclaim. But Day's theoretical two-stroke squander will not be forgotten.

Yet narratives can be erased. We've seen Phil Mickelson go from one who couldn't win on the big stage to owning five major titles. (And, as Tiger Woods is showing, vice versa.)

We love sports because it's our culture's most captivating theater. Whistling Straits will be center stage on Sunday. Jason Day is our protagonist.

Whether it's an uplifter or tragedy is up to him.


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