After three first-time major winners in three majors in 2016, Jason Day arrives at Baltusrol under pressure to defend his title and grab the last major championship trophy of the year.
Suddenly, the last major of the year is on our doorstep.
The Rio Olympics and the start of the NFL season has seen the US PGA Championship scheduled for much earlier in the year than usual and will be played this week at Baltusrol with world number one Jason Day hoping to defending his title, and his world number one ranking.
After such an amazing finish to 2015 including his emphatic first major victory, it seems remarkable that Day could finish the year without another major championship to his name.
Day went on a tear towards the end of 2015 winning on four times in six starts including the win at Whistling Straits. Coupled with three more victories in 2016 including the PLAYERS Championship at the WGC Dell Match Play, Day seemed a lock to raise another major trophy.
Day’s tenth place finish at The Masters was impressive given he was on medication for most of the week and his performances at the US Open and British Open’s (T8 and T22 repsectively) were solid, but after reaching such lofty heights in the preceding 12 months the golf world was expecting more success.
And Day has felt these expectations on his shoulders.
Day has mentioned to the press that he has never felt as much pressure as he does right now given the weight of expectations of being the world number one golfer. In combination with a wayward driver (and 3-wood), Day hasn’t looked comfortable on the golf course for some time.
Day posted three sub-70 rounds to finish last week’s Canadian Open in a tie for 14th place, five shots behind winner Jhonattan Vegas and appeared more at ease with his game but it’s clear what aspect the 28-year-old needs to get right for this week.
Across the four rounds at the Canadian Open, Day hit just 17 of 56 fairways. In his worst round, the 4-over par 76 on Friday, Day only found the short grass on two occasions (out of 14). And he only finished five shots back.
In where we have had three out of three first-time major winners so far, Day may be under more pressure this week from a few more golfers who have the confidence to know they can win the big ones. With Dustin Johnson breathing down his neck on the overall world golf rankings, this is a testing time for Day.
Baltusrol is not the most amazing golf course to ever hold a major golf championship, but we’re sure to see some interesting storylines play out this week.
Day’s pressure test will be one worth watching.