Jason Day’s game – and his world ranking – are headed in the right direction after the Queenslander registered his best result in almost two years at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in California.
Top five in four of his past five starts at Pebble Beach, Day began the final round within reach of top two Nick Taylor and Phil Mickelson but the flatstick that was firing on Friday fell flat in the final round, four three-putts in the space of seven holes on the back nine ending his hopes for a maiden Pebble Beach triumph.
Strong winds and small greens that became firmer as the afternoon wore on made scoring challenging for everyone who made the 54-hole cut, Day turning in even par and missing birdie chances at both nine and 10.
The 32-year-old’s par putt at 11 horseshoed out of the hole so viciously it almost came back and hit his left foot while his hopes of making three at the par-3 12th were made problematic when his 7-iron tee shot came up well short of the green.
He raised his arms to the heavens when a birdie putt fell at 14 and when Day added a second in succession at the par-4 15th he was suddenly back within arm’s length of the frontrunners.
A birdie attempt from 40 feet at 16 came up six feet short, the resulting par miss extinguishing his hopes for good.
Top-20 in his return from injury two weeks ago at Torrey Pines, Day’s outright fourth is his best since winning the Wells Fargo Championship in May 2018 and given him further cause for confidence heading to Riviera Country Club for this week’s Genesis Invitational.
“It’s bittersweet, because I wanted to (win),” Day told AAP of his closing 3-over 75, eight shots back of the victorious Taylor.
“But it’s still a good step in the right direction.
“You can find negatives in anything, but it’s been a while since I’ve had a top five and it’s a great result to have early in the year.
“I played well and it’s a positive week.”
With the first of the World Golf Championship events looming next week, Day’s top five was timely, expected to move him from his current position of 46th in the Official World Golf Rankings to back inside the top 40.
Australian Open champion Matt Jones should also benefit from a return to the world top 100 after he finished tied for fifth, two shots behind Day.
A chip-in birdie at Pebble Beach’s iconic par-5 18th hole was a fitting way for Jones to close out his round, his cheque for $US277,388 his largest since he won $428,400 by finishing tied for third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March 2015.
Day and Jones are now 66th and 61st in the FedEx Cup respectively with Aaron Baddeley and Kiwi Tim Wilkinson 127th and 124th after they both finished tied for 25th at Pebble Beach.
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California
4 Jason Day 67-64-70-75—276 $US382,200
T5 Matt Jones 68-73-65-72—278 $277,388
T25 Tim Wilkinson 69-70-70-74—283 $58,667
T25 Aaron Baddeley 68-69-71-75—283 $58,667
T38 Cameron Davis 71-72-69-73—285 $28,561
67 John Senden 71-71-67-83—292 $16,458
MC Greg Chalmers 67-73-76—216
MC Rhein Gibson 74-69-79—222
MC Rod Pampling 73-73-76—222