Jason Day wins THE PLAYERS


Jason Day, world No. 1, played almost like Tiger Woods in closing out the 2016 PLAYERS Championship, winning by four shots after leading from wire-to-wire. All week, he throttled back his length advantage, using 2-iron and 3-wood off the tees, in order to overcome the treacherous angles of the golf course. He outplayed the legendary Pete Dye. And boy, did he set records.

He tied the low 18-hole score with his 9-under 63, now shared with five players.

He set the new, low number for the first 36 holes, at 15-under, at 129; previously 14-under, 130, set Greg Norman in 1994.

He tied the low start by a winner with Greg Norman and Martin Kaymer.

He set the new largest 36-hole lead of 4 shots, previously 3, by Lanny Wadkins and Greg Norman.

According to Day, he’s just getting started.

“It’s very stressful being the number one player in the world,” Day said. “You’re in the limelight a lot. You’ve got more things to do when you get to tournaments, more things to do off weeks. But I wouldn't change it in any way because this is exactly where I want to be, and I want to try and stay here as long as I can while I can, because nothing beats this feeling.”

Clearly overcoming the best field in golf on a very difficult golf course is extra satisfying to the world No.1.


The first round of The Players had all kinds of fireworks, highlighted by Jason Day’s course record-tying 63. It wasn’t like he had a six-shot lead, however, when he finished. Justin Rose, Bill Haas, Brendan Steele, Steve Lowrey and Cameron Tringale were all just two back at 7-under, and another group that included Ernie Els was at 6-under. Still, it tied the record held by Fred Couples (1992), Greg Norman (1994), Martin Kaymer (2014) and Roberto Castro.

Day was aware of the number to beat.

“Once I got to 7, then I started thinking about the course record,” he said after the round. “Birdieing 7, then I’m like, okay, I think I can birdie 8 and 9 and that’ll kind of clip the course record. It would be nice to shoot 10-under.”

Nice? It would have been truly amazing. Most people are closer to 62 for nine holes, never mind 18.

Shane Lowry posted a new back-nine record of 29.

Big names struggled. Adam Scott had a quadruple-bogey 8 on the 18th hole and Jordan Spieth suffered a double-bogey 7 on No. 9, his last hole of the day.


Jason Day looked like a vintage Tiger Woods Friday, posting 66 to follow his initial round of 63. At 15-under par, it looked like the Greg Norman record of 24-under par was within reach.

Colt Knost came within a shot of posting a new course record of 62, but it was not to be. He missed a four-footer on the 18th for par which would have done it. Nerves make golfers do unfortunate things.

Rory McIlroy posted a 66 of his own, tying the lowest 9-hole score on the back nine of 28 which was held solo by Martin Kaymer since 2014.

Will Wilcox had a hole-in-one at 17th, and he went appropriately nuts for maybe 60 or 90 seconds. Really nuts. It’s worth a YouTube search.

Two-time U.S. Open Champ Andy North, now working for ESPN, recalled that in the early years, the course was wilder, less tamed than it is now. He said it was significantly harder. There were grasses growing out of some of the bunkers, which were waste bunkers then. He said there were palmettos everywhere on the course, and balls hit into them just plain never saw the light of day again.

A lighting delay stopped play shortly after 4 p.m. The leaders and several other groups went back out but did not finish until Saturday morning.

During the third round, Shane Lowry holed out his second shot at 18 for eagle. Who said it was a hard hole?

Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Phi Mickelson missed the cut.


On a day when everyone with eyes was convinced the PGA Tour had made a mistake with the setup, Jason Day hung on to his lead by his toenails.

Gone was the chance to break the Norman record as Day posted 1-over par on a day when the average score was 75.592. It was the fifth-highest average score in tournament history, including those years at Sawgrass Country Club.

Greens were overly fast, out-of-hand, and that’s an understatement. Pins were set on mounds instead of flats, making the best players in the world look a little silly. They were not amused. Jason Day four-putted from 20 feet at the 6th.

Even with the high scores, Day had a four-shot advantage at the end of the round.

“I want to win this tournament bad,” he said. “I really do.” He had said the tournament was important because it might be what gets him into the Hall of Fame one day.

The round of the day was posted by Ken Duke, who shot a 65. Everybody was convinced he had actually played a different golf course than they did.

By late Sunday, we had a brand new champion, Jason Day, who is still hungry for victories.

“I look at Tiger and he’s 79 or 80 (victories) or whatever it is, and Phil is up there, and I’m just like, okay, I want to be able to be looked back on and know that he was one of the greats in the game,” Day said. “I have the opportunity to do that right now, try and work as hard as I can to really leave my footprint in this game that has given me so much.”