Playing with the spectre of a COVID-19 test result hanging over his head, Jason Day’s first made cut since the PGA TOUR’s resumption was thankfully positive in a purely golf sense.
Just three Aussies made it through all four rounds of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut and when the third round began there was the possibility that total would be reduced to just two.
Brooks Koepka, Graeme McDowell and Webb Simpson all withdrew prior to the first round after the caddies for Koepka and McDowell both tested positive. Cameron Champ tested positive early in the week and withdrew, Denny McCarthy stepped down after he tested positive prior to the second round and Dylan Fritelli tested positive after missing the cut, forcing his withdrawal from the upcoming Rocket Mortgage Classic and taking the total number of positive player tests to six.
Feeling some discomfort on Friday night, Day requested an additional COVID-19 test and was sent out as a single from the 10th tee on Saturday morning as a precautionary measure as part of the PGA TOUR’s health and safety protocols.
The test came back negative, Day shot 69-68 over the weekend and finished the week as the highest-placed Australian in a tie for 46th, his first made cut since finishing tied for fourth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on February 9.
Breaking 70 for the first time since the coronavirus shutdown in the second round of the RBC Heritage, Day opened the Travelers Championship with a 3-under 67, bouncing back after an early bogey with birdies at 17, 18, six and seven.
Currently ranked No.56 in the world, Day birdied six and seven again on Friday on his way to a 1-under 69 and then traded four birdies with three bogeys playing by himself on Saturday.
Given a clean bill of health, an up-and-down from the front edge of the par-5 sixth countered the bogey at four early on Sunday and then Day closed out the week with birdies at two of his final three holes to build momentum ahead of the larger events coming up on the schedule.
Rounds of 66-65 put Marc Leishman in striking distance of the leaders at the halfway mark but the 2012 champion lost ground over the weekend with back-to-back rounds of 2-over 72 to fall to a tie for 58th. Making his first appearance since the season was suspended Greg Chalmers was the other Australian to complete all four rounds, finishing in 67th position as Duston Johnson used a third-round 61 to propel himself to the 21st PGA TOUR win of his career.
An extraordinary third round of 63 that featured eight birdies – and a lone bogey – on the front nine alone put Ryan Ruffels in contention to earn a breakthrough professional title at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Utah Championship in Utah.
Tied for third and just one shot back when the final round began, Ruffels was swamped by a sea of low scores prior to teeing off, dropping 16 spots on the leaderboard before hitting a single shot.
Unfortunately the descent continued for the 21-year-old as he made the turn in even par and then dropped three shots in the space of two holes to fall out of contention, ultimately finishing in a tie for 27th.
For the second time in the three tournaments since the resumption Jamie Arnold was the best of the Australians in a tie for 18th, posting four sub-70 rounds for the first time since February to post 15-under, five back of the three-man playoff won by Kyle Jones at the second extra hole.
TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Connecticut
Winner Dustin Johnson 69-64-61-67—261 $US1.332m
T46 Jason Day 67-69-69-68—273 $19,869
T58 Marc Leishman 66-65-72-72—275 $16,872
67 Greg Chalmers 69-67-75-73—284 $15,614
MC Cameron Davis 66-71—137
MC Cameron Smith 69-68—137
MC Tim Wilkinson 69-68—137
MC Danny Lee 67-71—138
MC Cameron Percy 67-72—139
MC Aaron Baddeley 69-74—143
MC Matt Jones 74-70—144
Korn Ferry Tour
Utah Championship Presented By Zions Bank
Oakridge Country Club, Farmington, Utah
Winner Kyle Jones 64-65-67-68—264 $US117,000
T18 Jamie Arnold 66-67-68-68—269 $7,463
T27 Ryan Ruffels 64-70-63-73—270 $4,518
T52 Mark Hensby 69-67-70-67—273 $2,704
T52 Steven Alker 66-70-70-67—273 $2,704
71 Brett Drewitt 66-68-74-69—277 $2,522
MC Harrison Endycott 70-71—141