Spieth and Day Most Likely to Make a Run?
There are a lot of different ways in which to win a golf tournament, such as a war of attrition where one player holds steady while all others fall apart around him. There’s the multiple stroke lead approach, where you have to hang on in the final round. These sometimes encourage overly cautious play, bring out unwanted nerves, and create a cliff-hanger feeling for the viewer, extending all the way to the 18th. A tournament winner doesn’t always get to choose his favorite route, but all of the options at least put you in position to strike in the last go-round. Jordan Spieth and Jason Day are apparently aware of that.
Some pretty fancy golf has been played in the third round, and we could use the “in position” theory for any one of them. Jason Day has been hanging around for three days, never losing sight of the top. Suddenly, in a flurry of top tier maneuvers in the all-important end of the third round, he’s stepped up to minus 14, and is only on the 11th. Six or seven holes left for absolutely anything to happen. One time leader Matt Jones is minus 13 on the same hole, and fellow leader Branden Grace trails at minus 12, albeit in the clubhouse. He can’t make anything happen until tomorrow, but is undoubtedly eager to watch those still on the course. Martin Kaymer is likewise finished, sitting at minus 11. Tony Finau and Justin Rose are the same, except that they have just completed 13. So where is the two-time major winner from 2015, and does he have any answer for Day?
Not in such a great place, or so I thought five minutes ago. Spieth and his nine under is great golf, but not great enough to catch the current pace. One minute ago, however, he’d birdied 13, and everything is changed. One more, maybe two, and he could be right back in the “Two out of three ain’t bad” category for tomorrow.
Round one is a lot of fun for the flavor and excitement of the event. It also tells us who will probably not win the PGA. Things get more tilted toward scoring in the second, and the third seems like a group of leading runners coming around the last turn, gearing up for a sprint to the finish line. So, who are the great sprinters? Again, it could fall to anyone. There are no weaklings this high up in a major. Day, has had trouble courting the final stroke to hoist a major trophy, but his third round rally continues. Jones, Grace, Kaymer and Rose have all had their ups and downs, making for a strong presence from time to time, but are not consistently feared. Tony Finau is anyone’s guess. And then there’s Jordan Spieth, good old “62 at any moment” Spieth. Like anyone, he could tank or put in an average day, denying himself the winner’s presentation. He could also put on a charge that succeeds or falls short, but of the group, he seems the likeliest to make a run at things.
My mind scans history as I think of it. What were the largest leads overcome? Remember those wonderful Arnie charges, in a day when you could almost come to depend on them? Who has the real nerves of this group? Who truly believes? Reigning majors royalty Spieth, Day, or those other gifted players?
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to check back in at the end of this paragraph, and see that things have been shaken up again. Maybe someone at the top has crumbled, or made a sudden run. It’s the nature of the game, not so much capricious, but volatile. Maybe Day will finally have his day. Or, maybe Spieth will do his thing one more time.