Day stands tall on day two of WGC Dell Matchplay
(Austin, Texas): A day after being doubled over in pain Australia’s top-ranked Jason Day stood tall to capture a second straight victory in the WGC – Dell Match-Play in Austin, Texas.
There was much uncertainty whether Day would take his place on day two of the $US 9.5m event after earlier the day prior suffering shooting pain in his lower back and legs.
In fact, Day was down on both knees in agony at the side of the 16th green just moments before sealing a 3&2 victory of Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell.
Day emerged on Austin Country Club practice range ahead of his second round robin match with many observers believing the current World No. 2 did look a little tentative in his warm-up ahead of facing Thailand’s tenacious Thongchai Jaidee, a double Asian Tour No. 1.
A few members of the media also had gathered behind Day while he was hitting balls however after his warm-up expecting to get an update of the father of two’s condition but he ignored them and headed straight for the practice putting green and then onto the first tee.
And if to dispel any of those pre-match concerns, Day launched a booming 372-yard drive over the brow of the hill at the first, a hole measuring just nine yards longer, and remarkably finding the green just 12 feet from the flag.
Day knocked in the eagle ’2′ putt and from there on was never headed against Jaidee.
Jason Day (Credit: www.golffile.ie)
The reigning PGA Champion did drop shots for bogeys at the fifth and eighth holes, and was also spotted at times in his round on the ground stretching, and in what he later described as sticking with his ‘protocols’.
However Day bounced back from the pair of bogeys to stamp his authority with a hat-trick of birdies from the ninth where he rolled in an eight footer to 2up and then race to 4up when he sank a birdie putt of similar length at the par three 11th hole.
It was clear Day was enjoying himself and was seen often chatting with Jaidee however the Australian stuck with the task at hand moving to 4up – two-putting from the back of the green at the short 286-yard par four 13th hole.
Day then claimed victory with a fifth birdie in seven holes in holing a six foot birdie putt at the par four 15th to secure a comprehensive 5&3 triumph.
“It’s not too bad,” said Day when asked about his back.
“Yesterday it was definitely sore. I had a pull. It’s a disk, when it gets inflamed the facet joints lock up, and then everything kind of goes into spasm and I can’t really move.
“And it’s really difficult to play golf. I did a lot of therapy yesterday and made sure I did prophyls every hour and felt pretty good. I felt pretty good last night. And came out today not really knowing if I was going to play or not.
“I warmed up very nicely on the range and decided to give it a shot. And I stretched pretty much on every hole.”
In between defeating McDowell and teeing-up against Jaidee, Day had undergone extensive treatment and was playing the second round with the aid of pain-killers and anti-inflamatories.
There was suggestions also, and with the Masters so close, that the Queensland-born golfing ace should side-line himself from continuing competing in the Texas capital.
However Day played down those fears and has now muscled his way into capturing back-to-back PGA Tour counting victories.
“I didn’t really know if I was going to obviously play today,” he said.
“It was kind of up in the air how I felt. It’s the same old things that usually happens to me when my back locks up like that, the facet joints, everything gets inflamed, the facet joints lock up and I can’t really swing. I got some good therapy last night. And then doing my protocols every hour and slept pretty good.
“I woke up and I’m on a Dose Pack right now, which is the steroid to try to get the inflammation out. A little pain, but for the most part pretty good. I came out during the first hole and that was pretty good there.”
Day now faces England’s Paul Casey but needing to win and avoid a play-off with Jaidee should Jaidee, who has one point from his first day victory against Casey, defeat McDowell.
“The way I am playing it’s pretty close to how I played second round of Bay Hill,” said Day.
“But today I drove it nice and hit a lot of good quality shots on the green and definitely saved myself when I needed to with the putts on the green. But very, very happy. I’ve got one more round until I get into the weekend.”