Analysis: Jason Day winning again while Tiger is not
CHARLOTTE — Jason Day is again looking like the Jason Day who won five tournaments including his first major championship and became the world’s No. 1 Player in 2015.
Tiger Woods is still looking for his first win since 2013.
Day made birdies from 10 feet on the 16th and from 3 feet on the 17th after his ball hit the stick Sunday to win the Wells Fargo Championship at rugged Quail Hollow Club. Despite not having his best in the final round, Day came through for his second win of the season (he also won the Farmers Insurance Open in January). Throughout the week, he relied on his impressive blend of power and touch. On Sunday, his mental game and putter came through.
Day, the 54-hole leader by two, closed with 2-under-par 69 to finish at 12 under and two clear of rookie Aaron Wise (68) and Nick Watney (69). Bryson DeChambeau (70) finished four back in fourth, and Paul Casey (71), Phil Mickelson (69) and Peter Uihlein (71) tied for fifth. It was Mickelson’s 10th top-10 in the tournament in 15 starts, but he still hasn’t won.
Day won because he dug in and overcame an erratic long game off the tee.
“I had no idea where the ball was going off the tee, but my short game stood the test,” said Day, who has 12 PGA Tour titles. “It was one of my best wins because I had to battle. I kept telling myself to keep pushing, keep pushing, keep pushing, and I putted great all week.”
While Day’s week ended on a memorable note, a forgetful week in the Queen City finally came to an end for Woods.
Following his worst score of the week, a 3-over-par 74 that didn’t include a birdie, Woods headed home to his Florida compound to regroup and hopefully reacquaint himself with his putter.
Woods needed 126 putts during rounds of 71-73-68-74 that left him at 2 over and well down the leaderboard. And for the first time in 26 rounds this year, and for just the 11th time in his professional career, Woods signed a scorecard that didn’t show a birdie. The last time the winner of 79 PGA Tour titles and 14 majors went birdie-less before Sunday’s final round came in the final round of the 2014 World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.
Woods made just 10 birdies this week.
“It’s just one of those weeks and I’m on to the next week, which is nice,” Woods said. “That’s one of the great things about golf is that once the tournament’s over, you’re on to next week.”
Woods still found something to be positive about ” his ball-striking. Well, except how he struck the ball with his putter, the same putter he used to win 13 of his 14 major championships. After each of the four rounds, Woods lamented about his work with the shortest club in the bag.
He couldn’t adjust to the slower speed of the greens all week. He pushed and pulled putts on a regular basis. In the final round, he missed three 4-footers.
“I hit the ball halfway decent today, so I wasn’t disappointed with that. Again, just did not putt well and didn’t make a birdie today. I got shut out,” Woods said. “I didn’t hit good putts, and on top of that, the ones I did hit well, I didn’t have enough speed on them.”
Woods said he’ll start working on his putting Tuesday when he gets to the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass for The Players Championship, the PGA Tour’s flagship event in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. He hasn’t played the tournament since 2015, but is one of just six players to win the event at least twice. He said he knows the layout, knows the greens, and remains confident he’ll turn his putting around.
“I know the golf course, which is nice, and I know what to expect there,” Woods said. “I’ve played well in spurts there. Really looking forward to getting there and doing a little bit of homework on the golf course, but I’m very pleased with the way I’m swinging.
“It’s just a matter of making sure I get the right speed for those greens because it’s going to be a little bit quicker than it was here.”