2011 British Open Predictions: 5 Reasons Jason Day Will Surge Atop Leaderboard

Jeff Cohn@jeff_cohnCorrespondent IIIJuly 15, 2011

2011 British Open Predictions: 5 Reasons Jason Day Will Surge Atop Leaderboard

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    Jason Day shot a 71 in the opening round of the Open Championships. This left him in 51st position and tied with some other players at one over (par).

    Sure, his Day 1 performance could have been much better, especially given expectation and his previous results in Majors.

    But, just because he is not in the lead now doesn't mean he won't be by the end of the tournament.

    Here are five reasons the Australian will ascend to the top of the leaderboard.

Nobody at the Top Is Reliable

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    Tied for first place at five under (par) are Thomas Bjorn and Tom Lewis.

    Tom Lewis is a 20-year-old amateur, who today broke Tiger Woods' record for the least amount of strokes by an amateur in a round of the Open Championships by one stroke.

    Thinking Lewis will be a threat to others in this championship is certainly an understatement, but can a man who has never played this well at a stage this big retain the lead?

    In an ESPN interview, Lewis said, "Shooting 65 is excellent, but to hold off the best players in the world will be even harder."

    It seems unlikely that such a young and inexperienced person could keep up the same level of play for three more days.

    Meanwhile, Thomas Bjorn has done fairly well at the Open Championships, coming in second place twice. But, that was back in 2000 and 2003.

    Bjorn had a disappointing downfall and season, to say the least, but he is looking to regroup.

    Having not played this event since 2007, the Dane is going through a strong resurgence. But, will that level hold up as well?

    I think not, especially now that he is expected to keep shooting well, and since his father's recent death could play a larger role in his head than we thought. Or the passing of his father could refuel his spirits.

    But, Jason Day should feel good about his chances, knowing that the two men tied for first place will most likely fall down the leaderboard soon enough.

Jason Day Dealt Well with the Tough Holes

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    Holes 16-18 at Royal St. George's are very difficult to close out on. Jason Day shot three straight pars to end his first day at the Open.

    Many players have had trouble with hole 16, the par 3, over the years due to the ball's unpredictable movement on the green and the windy conditions.

    Also, landing the ball on the fairway on the final two holes is a relatively tough task and does require a hint of luck.

    Day also managed to never make too big a careless mistake—he never took more than five swings on a hole, which also means that he did not hit any double bogeys.

    Unfortunately, the up-and-comer, generally known for his overall accuracy, failed to make lengthy putts or even improve his position for the next putt.

    He should take day 1 as a learning experience and an adjustment stage to do better and still be able to make the cut.

He Improved as Day 1 Went on

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    He hit four bogeys on the front nine, and constantly landed his ball near the edge of the green, or quite simply in the rough.

    But, he only hit one bogey on the back nine, including two birdies to match the two he had on the front nine.

    Since the overall field of golfers excelled more on the back nine, it makes sense that Day would be included in that group.

    Judging by his extremely strong finish, though, it makes more sense to say that he himself made smart tactical adjustments. He hit the ball with more margin for error and found himself a working and successful strategy.

    If he picked up his game and improved that quickly and efficiently in just the first day, imagine what he will do during the next three days.

Wind May No Longer Play a Role

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    Jason Day got better as the day proceeded, which was also due to a huge reduction in wind currents. Seeing him make adjustments, especially with the conditions favoring his game, makes him a player to watch out for on the leaderboard.

    The weather forecast for the next three days does not indicate as consistent and strong winds as day one exhibited.

    This could mean better approach and chip shots for the young and promising Australian talent. He could place his ball closer to the hole on the green and follow it up with an accurate putt.

    He could also land more balls on the fairway and be able to navigate out of the rough much more easily.

    Hopefully, the weathermen and their predictions will be accurate so that Jason Day can be as well.

He Is Hungry for a Grand Slam Victory

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    He has most likely had enough of second place and is hungry for more.

    Sure, the runner-up spot behind Rory McIlroy is never too shabby, but since McIlroy isn't leading the tournament so far, Day has to jump on the opportunity.

    Rory and Jason are both tied at one over (par), but they will both look to making corrections in their execution game plans for the holes they struggled with during the first day of play.

    Jason Day has to prove to the world that he is a Grand Slam and Major contender. Winning the Open would even prevent the critics from saying anything about him in that aspect of winning big titles.

    He may not clinch the entire victory, but look for him to climb the leaderboard and take over in the same fashion that he did when he first thrived at the Masters.