IN HIS TEENS Jason Day was being hailed as the next Greg Norman and today he finally realised a major goal in his golfing career.
It has taken a little longer than he might have been projecting in his youthful exuberance, but Day has finally won on the US PGA Tour.
And while there might have been an “unscheduled” delay for a player who a few years back was talking about overtaking Tiger Woods, in winning the HP Byron Nelson Championship by two strokes in Texas he still becomes the youngest Australian to win a PGA event.
Already in the record books as the youngest ever winner on the Nationwide Tour – he was 19 – he seems to have been around for a while and you tend to forget he is still only the ripe old age of 22.
Day has been planning on taking over the world number one spot since he was seven year old swinging a golf club his father found at the local tip.
Over the weekend he probably couldn’t help but be reminded of his early golfing success when much of the attention in the US was on local 16 year old junior Jordan Spieth.
Spieth hit the headlines as one of the youngest to make a PGA Tour cut and was just three strokes off the lead on the final nine holes.
“I was walking to the fourth hole and it looked like there was a thousand people following him,” Day said. “It took a little bit of pressure off my shoulders knowing that the good majority of the fans that were following me were close friends and family.”
Day knows all about being a child prodigy but also that form loss, injury, illness and mental anguish can lay in wait for all golfers.
“It’s been a hard, tough road,” Day said. “I’ve had a lot of negative thoughts go through my head. … I would always think of what jobs I could do if I didn’t secure my card. … I’m glad I just stuck through it.”
Day was in the lead or thereabouts all week and started what became a far from pretty final round with a two stroke lead.
He quickly gave that up with a number of bogeys before the turn but after fighting back had a disaster on the final hole.
The Texas based Queenslander played a very conservative tee shot on the 18th and then yanked his second shot into the water.
He managed a bogey and was granted a reprieve when US playing partner Blake Adams also found water en route to a double bogey.
“Oh man, I made it tough on myself today,” Day admitted. “It was a real fight out there today and I’m just glad I hung in there.”
“This is what I’ve been practising so hard for. I wore my heart on my collar and really wanted to get this done and I’m just so happy I’ve finally done it.”
Having played his first US PGA Tour event as an 18 year old hungry for quick success, it eventually took him 65 attempts.
His biggest reward, apart from the first prize of $US1.17 million ($A1.45 million), is exemption into next year’s US Masters.
Day finished with a two over 72 to be 10 over for the week, two ahead of a trio of Americans in second place, including Adams, Brian Gay and Jeff Overton.
Australia has had a great couple of weeks on the tour, with Adam Scott, who sat out this tournament, winning the Texas Open last week.