#360view: 'King' Day still reigns supreme

Joy Chakravarty 08:49 02/08/2016
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King of Golf: Jason Day

Among the many things which emerged from the recentlyconcluded PGA Championship, this is the most significant one – Jason Day thoroughly deserves the world No1 status and will continue to be at the helm for the foreseeable future.

In a tournament in which he was beaten by one shot by Jimmy Walker, Day showed that in all the talk about the ‘Big Three’, or ‘Big Four’ if you include Dustin Johnson, he is slowly but surely opening up a huge gap against the others.

Forget his stats – which are actually very impressive and almost Tiger Woods-like in the past one year – a couple of facts at Baltusrol have added to his growing legend.

The first was how well he played despite the disrupted preparation he had for the tournament. He first picked up a virus on the eve of the tournament, and then spent an anxious night attending his wife at a hospital when she suffered from an allergic reaction on Tuesday.

All of that led to just one practice round around the famous AW Tillinghast-designed course. That’s not how you want to go into a major championship, especially on a tricky golf course where you haven’t played any tournament before.

And then there was that sensational 2-iron second shot he drilled into the 18th green in the final round on Sunday evening. He wasn’t aware that Walker was looking at a birdie putt a group behind him to increase his lead to three shots.

Believing he trailed by two shots, Day knew he needed nothing less than an eagle to give himself a chance of winning. And eagle is exactly what Day made. That is also the reason why he deserves the No1 crown.

Through the years, the most dominant golfers in the history of the sport have been the ones who have consistently been able to produce the shots that matter in pressure situation, whether it be Ben Hogan’s one-iron at Merion’s 18th, Arnold Palmer driving the green on Cherry Hills’ first, or Woods’ chipin on the 16th at Augusta National.

The greatest golfers have been able to dictate terms, something that Day has been doing on a regular basis now. The most remarkable thing about Day is his ability to raise his game during the major championships. He now has 13 top-10 finishes in 25 major appearances, which is a staggering 52 per cent.

In comparison, Woods has 50 per cent top-10s, Nicklaus 45 per cent and Rory McIlroy 44 per cent. Obviously, 25 majors is just a fraction of what Woods and Nicklaus have played, and with just one win, Day is nowhere near Woods’ tally of 14 majors and Nicklaus’ 18, but it shows how consistent he has been, and how he is giving himself chances to win.

As far as the top-five players in the world rankings are concerned, Day has the most number of points gained in 2016, which is the most useful data to show he is the best player of the lot.

He also has the most number of wins – three, compared to two each by Johnson, Spieth and Stenson, and one by McIlroy. No wonder Day has opened up a lead of nearly three average points over the second-ranked Johnson.

The only blip in Day’s season is that he could not win a major championship. But we really have been spoiled by Woods in recent years. Winning majors is tough, and it has been amply proven this year with four first-time champions wining the four big ones – Danny Willett at the Masters, Johnson at the US Open, Henrik Stenson at the Open Championship and Walker at the PGA Championship.

All four are strong players, and so is everyone inside the top-20 of world rankings. On their day, each one of them can take on any quality of field and win. It is remarkable that Day manages to stay ahead of such a chasing pack.

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