A revitalised Jason Day is relishing the prospect of another weekend shootout with American heavyweights Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson after surging into major championship contention yet again.
Day rebounded in style from his untimely vertigo attack at last month’s US Open with a flawless six-under-par 66 to be just one shot off the first-round lead at the British Open.
The three-times major runner-up collected birdies on the second, fifth, sixth, 10th, 14th and 15th holes to steal the limelight from playing partner Tiger Woods, who slumped to a horror 76, his worst round as a professional at the Old Course the former world No.1 dominated to win the Open in 2000 and 2005.
“I knew there was going to be a lot of eyes on me. I just wanted to make sure I played solid out there,” Day said.
The world No.9 was better than solid and he could have picked up one or two more shots with a touch of luck.
He almost holed out for eagle on the 15th before narrowly missing out on a chip-in birdie at St Andrews’ treacherous 17th Road Hole.
Day sits one stroke behind Johnson and one ahead of Spieth, the two big guns he shared the lead with entering the final round at Chambers Bay three weeks ago.
But while he was heroic in ultimately finishing ninth despite his dramatic vertigo battles, Day hopes to be triumphant at the home of golf on Sunday now that he’s fit and healthy again.
“I feel good. I’m not thinking about falling over on my face again. It’s good,” he said.
“I’m not worrying about it.”
Day is more worried about renewing his major rivalry with Spieth and Johnson – and this time upstaging them as golf’s new-age stars dominate the leaderboard for the second major in a row.
Spieth denied the three-putting Johnson by a shot on the final day at Chambers Bay to add to his Masters jacket and the duo once more loom as the biggest threats to Day’s major ambitions.
“It’s kind of extended on from the US Open with Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth; where they are right now, so it’s going to be an exciting three days coming up,” Day said.
Adam Scott, who ground out a superb two-under 70 in brutal late-afternoon winds to keep his own championship hopes live, says he’s not surprised by seeing Johnson, Day and Spieth once again showing the way.
“It’s a bit of a theme,” Scott said. “You can almost pick the guys who are going to play really well.
“They really seem to know how to peak for the big events and get their game in shape.
“At the moment there’s a handful to 10 guys who seem to do it each time.”
While Day is breathing down Johnson’s neck and Scott is lurking, Matt Jones (68), Greg Chalmers (70), Steven Bowditch (70), Marc Leishman (70), Geoff Ogilvy (71), Brett Rumford (71) and Scott Arnold (71) are also under par and in the mix to end Australia’s 22-year Open title drought.