Day rockets into world No.1 contention

By Darren Walton

EDISON, New Jersey, Aug 31 AAP – A philosophy of “not being okay with okay” has rocketed Australian golf ace Jason Day into world No.

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1 contention.

Day not only surged to the top of the FedExCup standings with his runaway six-stroke win at The Barclays on Sunday, but also stormed into mathematical contention to snare the top ranking as early as next Monday.

Suddenly the battle between golf’s new-era big three has intensified after Day, with his third victory in four starts, closed in further on Rory McIlroy and American Jordan Spieth, who relinquished his No.1 status to the Northern Irishman by missing the cut at Plainfield Country Club.

“I have the opportunity to get to No.1 if I play some good golf over the next three or four weeks. It’s been a goal of mine. But it’s going to be tough to catch,” Day said after closing with an eight-under-par 62 in New Jersey for a 19-under total and commanding win over Swede Henrik Stenson.

“I’m just excited about the competition. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

“I love being in contention. I love playing against guys that are on fire. You’ve got to kind of live for those moments.”

Backing up from his major breakthrough at the PGA Championship this month, Day’s latest triumph – which matched Spieth’s four wins on the US Tour this year – also vaulted the Queenslander into PGA player-of-the-year contention.

Such a scenario was unthinkable after 21-year-old Spieth became the first player since Tiger Woods more than a decade ago to win the season’s opening two majors at the Masters and US Open.

Day says Spieth still gets his vote – for now.

“Winning two major championships at such a young age is big. Winning four tournaments overall is great,” Day said.

“Winning the FedExCup and maybe one or two more tournaments, that could put my name in the mix for Player of the Year. I’m not sure.

“I’m going to leave that to the peers, to the people.”

A three-times major runner-up with nine top-10 finishes at golf’s four biggest events before reigning at Whistling Straights a fortnight ago, Day said not being content with second best had sparked his stunning run.

The 27-year-old is a collective 73 under par for his last 20 rounds since the start of the British Open, where he fell a shot shy of a playoff.

“Something really clicked for me at The Open Championship,” Day said.

“Not being satisfied with a number, not being satisfied with the number that I was at there, just keep pushing forward, not being okay with okay.”

While Day has charged into pole position to land the season-ending $US10 million ($A13.96 million) bonus prize, fellow Australians Steven Bowditch (20th), Matt Jones (57th), Marc Leishman (61st) and John Senden (81st) also qualified for this week’s second playoff event.

But Adam Scott’s season is officially over after missing The Barclays cut.

The former world No.1 and Masters champion tumbled to 106th in the FedExCup race, with only the top 100 making it to Boston.

After starting the final round equal top of the leaderboard with Korean Sangmoon Bae, Day was never headed as he collected eight birdies without a bogey.

He was so dominant that third placegetter Watson (69) finished eight strokes adrift, with British Open champion Zach Johnson (69) and fellow American Zac Blair (66) a further shot back in equal fourth.

“Today was just phenomenal,” Day said. “I’m just excited right now. I’m ecstatic.”