Big day for Jason Day, back soaring as Open runner-up

Jason Day couldn’t quite make it Jason’s day at the British Open – but the rejuvenated Australian superstar was still left thrilled after joining a host of legends with his near-miss at Royal Liverpool.

The Queenslander couldn’t hide his delight and pride at again being back in a major dust-up as he finished in a four-way tie for the runner’s-up spot at rain-sodden Hoylake on Sunday (local time).

But while American Brian Harman was running away with the Claret Jug in the driving rain, winning by six strokes, the 35-year-old Day was left with the not insubstantial consolation of joining an elite club.

For by finishing runner-up, he matches a host of luminaries – Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman, Louis Oosthuizen, Craig Wood and Dustin Johnson – as just the ninth player in the game’s history to be a runner-up at all four majors. As well, of course, as winning one.

And though he never looked like adding to his 2015 PGA title as Harman dominated, in Day’s battle for second place with Korean Tom Kim, Austrian Sepp Straka and Spain’s Jon Rahm – one that ultimately ended all square at seven under – there was widespread delight at the popular figure rediscovering the form that once made him world No.1.

“I am happy. Considering my play over the last month and a bit hasn’t been that great, and I didn’t have the greatest confidence coming into this week, to be able to finish tied second was nice,” said Day, who was also runner-up at the Masters and US Open in 2011 and the PGA in 2016.

“Unfortunately, I hadn’t played that great in the majors this year, so it was nice – just the slow, gradual increase in confidence through good play.”

Day knew, like the rest of Harman’s pursuers, that only a collapse of Greg Norman-like proportions from the American would give anyone else a chance to win. But he was still frustrated he didn’t get a little closer after a final two-under round of 69 that featured four birdies and two bogeys.

“I wish I would have cut into the lead a little bit more. You just never know. When someone has such a great lead, and then you kind of cut into it, you just never know what they’re going to do under the pump,” he said.

But while Rahm and Straka got to within three strokes, Day couldn’t get closer than six.

There was just a moment, though, after missing the green, when he delivered one of the shots of the day – a chip from 33 feet that flew over a bunker and rolled into the hole for a second straight birdie – when a Day charge looked on the cards. When he sought more inspiration, though, he could find only solidity.

Meanwhile, Cameron Smith bowed out as Champion Golfer of the Year with a smile in the rain after firing a final-round 73 to finish at one over.

“It was awesome being back. I would have liked to have done a better job at defending it, but, yeah, just wasn’t my week this week,” said the 29-year-old, who finished tied for 33rd, alongside Adam Scott, who completed his 23rd Open with a two-under 69.

“I can’t wait to get back here next year and give it another crack. It’s golf that I’ve learned to love,” he said.

The big let-down for the Australian challenge came with Min Woo Lee’s last-round slump to finish at two over.

After lying joint-fourth with Day at halfway, the rising star from Perth looked wet, bedraggled and just a bit fed up as his three last-round birdies were offset by seven dropped shots in his 75.

“It was pretty brutal out there. Didn’t really have the mindset of it being that wet for that long,” he said.

“All day we pretty much had the umbrella up.”


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