Jason Day – file photo
Jason Day might not have won his third Farmers Insurance title at Torrey Pines this morning but his three-way share of third behind the eventual winner, Luke List and runner-up Will Zalatoris, will ensure the former world number one will move well inside the top 100 from his current 129th position in the world ranking, in fact he might move as high as 80th when the rankings are revised on Monday.
Day began the final day in a share of the lead with Will Zalatoris but struggled early in his round with a bogey at the 5th which, in fact, he did well to make given a poor drive found trouble and a third from 154 yards at the par 4 found the bunker.
He would then get up and down for birdie at the 9th but a bogey at the 11th had him two from the lead set by clubhouse leader, Luke List who had finished two hours earlier and Zalatoris, with whom Day was playing.
Day needed something special if he was to get back into the fray and a stunning iron from 119 yards at the 14th did the trick. The shot pitched a foot from the hole bounced ten feet past and then spun back into the hole for an unlikely eagle and he had joined the lead.
A mishit iron shot at the 16th came up well short of the green at the par 3 and he was unable to get up and down and he trailed by one. Then came a poor drive at the 17th before his approach from a difficult lie plugged in the bunker and despite a reasonable bunker shot, he was unable to hole the par save, and he head to the 18th needing an eagle to have any chance.
From a fine drive at the last, had no option to go for the green at the iconic par 5 but was long and although he produced a very impressive birdie from behind the green, he ended up one short of List and Zalatoris but tied for third with Jon Rahm and Cameron Tringale.
For Day, the great return to form is even more encouraging as next week he heads for Pebble Beach where in his last nine outings he has been inside the top 7 on seven occasions so the chances of the momentum he gained this week carrying over are even better.
“I didn’t actually feel like my swing fell down like I did the last three days, so I was just kind of sticking around like a bad smell, I guess,” said the 34 year old. “I holed a nice shot on 15. Sorry, 14.”
“Then yeah, I mean, kind of after that I lost the drive right and I started coming out of it and backing out of it and it’s really hard to trust,” he added referring to recent swing changes. “Especially when you stand up on 17, it’s hard to trust to keep turning the corner and go left when there’s all trouble left and that’s why I kind of backed out of it and hit right.
“It was a quality week though and a lot of positives moving forward. You know, this is a second tournament for me that I’ve really tried to try these swing changes (designed to relieve back issues). So, I mean, it’s great that the progress is kind of is where it is, but still a lot of work to do.
“I know that I’m heading in the right direction, and I know that the work I’ve been putting into my game is starting to pay off. Obviously if it wasn’t I wouldn’t be in that position. So, I know that things are looking up, I’ve just got to really just keep working hard.
“I’m in that stage of like trying to, you know, make these things more concrete and then if I can do that, then I’ll be in contention lot more and then the confidence comes back. Then when the confidence comes back, hopefully I win five, 10 times a year.”
Marc Leishman was the next best of the Australians when he finished tied for 16th although a bogey after finding the water at the last proved costly, while Cameron Davis was 56th.
For the 37-year-old List, who birdied the first extra hole to defeat Zalatoris, it was his first victory on the PGA Tour although he has two wins on the Korn Ferry Tour to his name and has been twice runner-up at this higher level. List also finished 10th here last year and 12th on one other occasion.
Zalatoris was also seeking a first win but the man who finished runner-up on debut at the Masters in 2021 and was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2021, missed a makeable birdie putt at the 72nd hole to win and then was unable to match List’s birdie in extra time.