Final hole of Nelson was wet, wild
IRVING, Texas -- Youth was the tournament buzz all week, so maybe it is fitting Sunday that the HP Byron Nelson should crown a 22-year-old champion.
Jason Day, a transplanted Australian now living in nearby Fort Worth, survived a near-disaster on the final hole to earn his first PGA Tour victory.
Day won despite hitting his approach shot into the water hazard that fronts the No. 18 green at TPC Four Seasons Resort.
"That last hole is one I want to forget, but also one I want to remember because it is my first win,'' Day said.
Playing partner Blake Adams, a 34-year-old Tour rookie, trailed Day by a single stroke going to the 72nd hole.
Guarding against hooking his drive into the water as he did in the first and third rounds, Day chose a 3-iron off the tee. It left him an uphill 192-yard approach shot over water.
Day, who admits to freely showing his emotions, buried his head in his hands when his shot with a 4-iron hopped once and disappeared in the hazard.
Adams, facing a difficult shot in the right rough, didn't see Day's reaction or the shot that caused it.
"I didn't even know that he was in the water,'' Adams said. "It wouldn't have mattered because my shot was the same. I had only one option. I was going to the middle of the green, and it just came out awkward.''
Jason Day become the second-youngest player to win the Byron Nelson Championship, behind only Tiger Woods.
Day said when Adams followed him into the water, it was a big relief.
After taking a drop, Day chipped to within 14 feet, made a title-clinching bogey putt and leaped into the arms of his caddie.
"I've worked hard to get where I am today and this means a lot to me,'' said Day, who choked up momentarily in a press conference.
"I've had a lot of negative thoughts go through my head -- just thinking this year I haven't been playing that well and I was like, 'If I don't secure my card this year, where am I?' I would always think of jobs I could do if I didn't secure my card.''
The winner's check of $1,170,000 should ease those concerns for a while.
By winning at 22, Day placed himself in elite company. Only Tiger Woods won the Nelson at a younger age.
Experts compared Day's potential as a teen to Woods. He began playing professionally in 2005 and made five cuts and bagged $174,508 in earnings on the PGA Tour in 2006.
"It's my own fault I haven't won before now,'' Day said. "At first, I didn't work hard enough. I never had anything growing up and all of a sudden I had a few dollars in my pocket. It was me being lazy.''
Day came close to withdrawing before the opening round Thursday because of illness. He decided to play, shot a 66 and shared the lead. He fell a stroke off the pace after a 65 on Friday and regained the lead going to the final round with a 67 on Saturday.
The two-stroke lead he had to start the final round slipped away with bogeys at No. 5, 7 and 8. But he birdied No. 11 and then hit his best shot of the day on 12, a 54-degree wedge that hit the flagstick and stopped three feet away for another birdie. It was his last birdie of the day and good enough with just about everybody on the leaderboard backing up.