Jason Day marks return to Tour with Shootout win
Australia’s Jason Day intends to draw more closely on a 10-year relationship with tournament host Greg Norman after Day and American Cameron Tringale pocketed a $385,000 pre-Christmas bonus in capturing the Franklin Templeton Shootout by a stroke with a 32-under par tally on the Tiburon course in Naples, Florida.
Day and Tringale combined on the final day in posting a ‘Better Ball’ seven under par 65 and defeat defending champions Matt Kuchar and Harris English who carded a 10-under par 62 to finish in second place at 31-under par and share the second place cheque of $485,000.
Bizarrely, Kuchar had competed in a five-kilometre event sponsored charity run earlier in the morning of the final round and finishing second in his age bracket.
The pairing of Keegan Bradley and Camilo Villegas (11-under par 61) along with Ian Poulter and Jerry Kelly (11-under par 61) shared the third prize of $290,000.
It is Day’s second ‘team’ success of his pro career after late last year partnering Adam Scott to victory at Royal Melbourne in the World Cup of Golf while Day also won the ‘Individual’ honours.
Tringale was equally excited as the similar 27-year old Day as it was his first taste of success on the PGA Tour with his highest placed result on the main tour being second behind Hunter Mahan in the Barlcays Championship.
“It means a lot of to get my first win even though it’s in a team event,” he said. “It’s hard to win golf tournaments, especially at this level. A lot of great players, major winners were in this field. So a win is a win. We were feeling nerves out there but then we came here to win and we were not shy about doing that.”
However for Queensland-born Day there could be no prouder moment in his career than being handed the trophy by boyhood hero and fellow Queenslander Greg Norman on the 18th green, and on the course Norman designed.
And being congratulated by Norman, Day recalled the first time he met the golfer known as the ‘Great White Shark’ and that was ahead of the 2004 Australian PGA Championship and that was decade ago at the Hyatt Coolum Resort course on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
It was a meeting that has turned into a decade long friendship but then Day now wants to work more closely with Norman in improving his game.
“I was first introduced to Greg when Bud my agent set up a practice tee time at an Australian PGA Championship and I was about 16 years of age at the time,” said Day.
“We played the practice round also with Adam Scott so I had an absolute blast. I had just won the World Junior and the Queensland Amateur titles.”
“I can’t believe it was that long ago but from that day we kind of kept in touch and talked every now and then. Even after the round today I said, look, you had the best seat in the house to view what I did out there. I want to be able to call you and talk to you about things that I could possibly work on to get better.”
“Greg said he saw a few things that he would talk to me about. So I’m looking forward to either calling or texting over the next week or so when he has time and to really try and find out the ways that I can get a little bit better with each and every tournament that I play in.”
“As long as you’re trying to strive to get better every each and every day, then you’re only moving up.”
Stealing the prize-giving ceremony was Day’s two-year old son, Dash who climbed his way into the Media Center interview seat set aside for the winning pair.
And while Day and his young family were heading back to Ohio to enjoy Christmas, the current World No. 8 is already excited in taking the confidence from his second victory in 2014 into season 2015.
“It is great to win a tournament and this is one I can really enjoy,” he said.
“That’s the one thing about wins, you have to really enjoy it and lee the moment soak in, as just as quick as you can win, it may be your last if you don’t really stay on top of it.”
“So the next two weeks are going to be fantastic. I’ll be back home in Columbus and with my mum coming over and my sister and nephew from ‘Oz’ and I’ll be able to spend good time with them.”
“But soon thereafter I’ll be headed to Palm Springs to prepare for Maui and my first event of 2015.”
“However I was saying to Greg (Norman) yesterday at the clinic they hosted that I’ve never been more motivated to play and compete and try to win tournaments than I am right now. I’ve just got to keep taking that and working hard and doing the little things right and hopefully it will happen a lot next year.”