Jason Day, co-leader in the second leg of the FedEx Cup at the Deutsche Bank Championship, has toyed with golf fans long enough.
We have seen him in the lead or close to it on the weekend in so many big events, most notably the majors, only to falter in the end.
Will this be the tournament that puts him over the top? Should he actually go on to win it, he will be the clear favorite to take the FedEx Cup and its whopping $10 million purse.
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He put himself in that position by finishing in a tie for second at The Barclays just one week ago.
Holding the lead for much of the day, the 26-year-pld Aussie wavered down the stretch to tie Ryan Palmer at eight under par.
The round was typical of Day’s performances in big events where he waffles between brilliant and errant play. At one point, he was 29-of-29 on putts within 10 feet. Then, he bogeyed the final hole by missing that exact putt to finish three under for the day.
We have come to expect this type of play from Day who has been so close to winning big events in the past. This year alone he tied for fourth at the U.S. Open, tied for 15th at the PGA Championship and finished in a tie for 20th at the Masters.
Last year, he tied for second at the U.S. Open where he finished alone in that position in 2011.
He also had a memorable final-day run at the 2011 Masters only to finish in a tie for second behind Charl Schwartzel who won the event by two strokes.
At the Deutsche Bank, he still has to contend with a clamoring group of top players led by Matt Kuchar, who went five under to move into a tie for third place with Billy Horschel, including U.S. Open winner Martin Kaymer at five under, 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley (-5) and a slew of hungry young players such as Patrick Reed (-6), Russell Henley (-6), Russell Knox (-5) and Jordan Spieth (-5).
Oh, yeah, the No. 1 in the world, Rory McIlroy, made a move up the leaderboard and sits just five strokes back with two days to play.
The Deutsche Bank features the top 100 point leaders in the FedEx Cup race. The top 70 will move on to the BMW Championship, and the Cup will be determined at the Tour Championship played by an elite group of 30.
As for Day, well, his day may finally arrive with a win in Boston. We know he’s talented. We have seen him come close. But this would be the biggest accomplishment of his young career.
Will it be what he needs to start winning majors?
Although he only has one win this year at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, he has made 11 cuts in 13 events, finished second twice, been in the top 10 four times and currently has earnings of $3,188,241.
He has assuredly earned his seventh-place world ranking as well. He has done all of this by fighting through a lingering thumb injury which it looks like he has overcome.
Speaking after his second-place finish at The Barclays, Day acknowledged he is on the comeback trail to success.
"Last week I didn't lose it, which was a good thing. I played well, tried my best and just wasn't good enough as Hunter won it,” he told The Sunday Morning Herald. "It puts the fire in my belly, and I'm looking forward to this week, and I feel like it's a good setup for me."
Going into the Deutsche Bank he was in seventh place in the FedEx Cup race where a win will vault him into first with a commanding lead.
A long-ball hitter who is oftentimes errant off the tee (ranked 24th in distance and 111th in driving accuracy, per PGATour.com), it is difficult to know whether Day has the stuff that can turn him into a winner of majors.
At the 2011 Masters, he made a memorable surge on the final day, ultimately setting the record for the lowest score (-12) by a first-time participant. Notably, he gained attention by going toe-to-toe with Adam Scott, Angel Cabrera and eventual winner Schwartzel.
Based on subsequent competitive showings at other majors, we had expected more from Day by this point.
Although he missed the last par putt at the Deutsche Bank, which would have put him into first place by himself, Day is definitely playing well enough to win. He improved his driving accuracy dramatically by hitting 75 percent of his fairways and was able to knock 55.5 percent of his approach shots onto the green.
If he wins, he will have the points lead, momentum and confidence to take the ultimate prize as the FedEx Cup champion.
Such an accomplishment will place him on the road to more victories including those to-date evasive major titles.
His success will be just as we expected all along.
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