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Jason Day goes wire to wire to win Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — Jason Day wanted to win the Players Championship so badly that he wasn't going to let anything stop him.

Not the super-slick greens that nearly derailed him Saturday. Not the three muffed chips that turned potential birdie into a unsettling bogey as he made the turn Sunday. And certainly not the best field in golf.

With another command performance, Day put his stamp on No. 1 in the world by never letting anyone closer than two shots in the final round, playing bogey-free on the back nine of TPC Sawgrass for the fourth straight day and closing with 1-under 71 for a wire-to-wire victory at 15-under 273.

It was his seventh title in the past 10 months.

And the 28-year-old Australian wants to win a lot more.

"I want to be able to be looked back on and know that (I) was one of the greats in the game. If I have the opportunity to do that, I'm going to try my best," Day said after his four-shot victory. "And I have the opportunity to do that right now, try and work has hard as I can to really leave my footprint in this game.

"I'm very motivated to win as much as I can right now."

He stomped his way all over everyone at the Players Champion­ship, though he had a few nervous moments.

Day made bogey on No. 6, had to make a 15-foot par putt on the next hole and really looked out of sorts from just 40 feet right of the green on the par-5 ninth. He muffed three straight chips and had to make a 6-foot putt just to escape with bogey, dropping his lead to two shots.

"If I walk away with a double bogey there, I let everyone (back) in the field," he said. "I was right there next to the green in two and felt like an amateur chopping my way to the pin. That putt was probably the most crucial putt of this tournament for me."

Two 15-foot birdies over the next three holes restored his margin and sent him on his way. The last hurdle was finding land on the island-green 17th, and he cleared the water with about 10 feet to spare.

Day's seven victories dating to the Canadian Open include the PGA Championship, a World Golf Championship event and a pair of FedEx Cup events, all that had some of the strongest fields in golf. He became the first wire-to-wire winner in 16 years at Sawgrass, and he joined Tiger Woods, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson as the only players to go wire-to-wire twice in the same season dating to 1970.

Day finished earned $1.89 million, the richest payoff in golf.

Kevin Chappell was 5 under over his final 10 holes for 69 and the runnerup spot. He picked up a consolation check of $1,134,000 and moves just outside the top 30 in the world rankings, giving him a spot in the next two majors.

"That's getting a little old," Chappell said of his two runnerup finishes to Day. "I'm not sure what Jason's scrambling stats were, but they were much better than mine on the week."

Day has won 10 times on the PGA Tour. Only Rory McIlroy with 11 has won more among players in their 20s.

"It's no coincidence he's No. 1 in the world," Justin Thomas said after closing with a Sunday-best 65 to tie for third. "He drives it extremely far, extremely straight. He hits it to the moon, so he can access pins that most people can't. His short game is ridiculous. I think I've pretty much covered it all there when it comes to the golf."

Day is the third No. 1 player to win the Players Championship, joining Greg Norman (1994) and Woods (2001 and 2013).

Hideki Matsuyama, playing in the final group with Day, was 3 over after three holes and quickly out of the mix. His 73 left him at 9 under.

Day has a large lead in the world ranking over Jordan Spieth, who missed the cut, and McIlroy at No. 3, who was never a factor Sunday. His 70 put him at 7 under for the tournament.

Countryman Adam Scott referred to Day's run as "Tigeresque."

"That's one of the hardest things to do when you are hot like that, to keep pushing," Scott said. "But he has a very strong desire to achieve so much, and I think probably his goals are changing throughout this period, and he's expecting more and more of himself. He's got that ability to push himself and accomplish."

Rare air

With Jason Day's win at the Players Championship on Sunday:

• He gets his second wire-to-wire win (no ties) of PGA Tour season and becomes fourth player since 1970 (start of such records) with multiple wire-to-wire wins in same year. The others: Tiger Woods (twice), Tom Watson and Johnny Miller.

• He gets third wire-to-wire win of tour career — all since September — and joins group with third-most such wins since 1970 (Miller, Phil Mickelson, Nick Price). Only Woods (seven) and Watson (five) have more.

• He becomes first player with three wire-to-wire wins in nine months since 1970.

• He is first wire-to-wire Players winner since Hal Sutton in 2000.

• He gets seventh win since July; no other tour player has more than two since then.

• His seven wins in his past 17 tournaments give him 41 percent winning percentage.

• He becomes fifth player since 1980 to win at least 10 times on tour before turning 29. The others: Woods, Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and David Duval.

Source: PGA Tour, Golf Channel

Jason Day goes wire to wire to win Players Championship 05/15/16 [Last modified: Sunday, May 15, 2016 11:20pm]
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