Jason Day was battling for victory Sunday at the Byron Nelson Championship in Texas, but despite being in the final group, all of the focus was not him.
A large majority of the crowd was busy watching 16-year-old Jordan Spieth, who spent the week dazzling the crowd with his youthful exuberance and solid play.
Day did not mind at all that he was not the sole focus while trying to win his first PGA Tour victory.
“I was walking to the fourth hole and it looked like there was a thousand people following him,” Day said in a post-round interview. “It took a little bit of pressure off my shoulders knowing that the good majority of the fans that were following me were close friends and family.”
Coming into the final nine holes of Sunday, Spieth was a mere three strokes behind the lead, before stumbling home and finishing in 16th position.
Not bad however when one considers that at this point in time a week prior, Spieth was competing for the State Championship in his high school.
“It was awesome … the entire round, the entire week,” Spieth said after his round. “Starting the week, I definitely would’ve taken a top 20, in a heartbeat. Obviously now, looking back, being a competitor, I look back at the mistakes I made that didn’t give me an opportunity to win.”
“I wouldn’t say [this week] changed me fundamentally,” he added. “I can’t wait to get back out there and do it again.”
Day was the youngest player to ever win on the Nationwide Tour when he won at the age of 19. Now, at 22, Day notches his first career PGA Tour win.
“It’s been a hard, tough road,” Day said after the round. “I’ve had a lot of negative thoughts go through my head. … I would always think of what jobs I could do if I didn’t secure my card. … I’m glad I just stuck through it.”
It almost never happened for Day however, as the Australian came close to withdrawing from the tournament due to illness on Thursday. He went on to shoot the low round of Thursday and remained among the leader throughout the course of the week, even though he carded a 2-over-par round of 72 on Sunday.
It was good enough.
Day now automatically qualifies for the U.S Open, that will be held at pebble Beach next month.
The 22-year-old had some advice for the 16-year-old as well after being very impressed with his play during the week.
“Keep at it, keep learning, keep playing a lot of tournaments and try and win as many as you can,” Day said. “Make [winning] a habit and keep pushing through, no matter what happens. As long as you push through those hard experiences and work hard, you’ll come out on top. It will all work itself out.”
With the 2010 U.S Open on the horizon, Online Sportsbooks have established Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson as the early betting favorites to win the season’s second major, with Mickelson the only one who could win the Grand Slam.