Jason Day has done about everything he can do at a major tournament except win one.
After leading this year’s Masters on Saturday, Day tied for second with Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club on Sunday, finishing at 3-over part and two strokes behind Justin Rose.
Second is something Day, 25, is used to at majors. That’s the spot he finished at the Masters and the U.S. Open in 2011.
So it’s going to happen soon, right?
“I’ve got to keep putting myself in position to win,” said Day, who bogeyed No. 18 Sunday to kill his chances. “I feel that my game is in a really good spot right now. I’m doing the right things. I’m doing the little things that count. I’ve been close so many times now in majors, especially at a young age, which is nice.”
Notes• The only hole-in-one of the tournament was struck Sunday by Shawn Stefani on the 246-yard 17th. Stefani’s 4 iron bounced off a bank on the left side of green, bounced onto the putting surface and then rolled all the way across and into the cup. When Stefani got to the green, he bent over and kissed the ground on the bank where the ball landed.
“There’s some great fans up here and I know they can be tough on you and they can love you forever,” said Stefani, who said it was his first hole-in-one in a pro tournament. “So I’m sure they appreciated me going to the ground and kissing it.”• Charlotte’s Webb Simpson, last year’s U.S. Open champion, finished at 13 over for the tournament after a 2-over 72 on Sunday, good for a tie for 32nd.
“I did what I thought I needed to do,” said Simpson. “But I didn’t make any putts.”• How frustrating was this U.S. Open for Rory McIlroy? After hitting his ball into Cobbs Creek on No. 11, McIlroy leaned over his Nike 9 iron, pushed it into the ground and bent it. McIlroy, who by rule wasn’t allowed to use the club again because of its condition, took a quadruple bogey on the hole and finished tied for 41st at 14 over.
“It was a bit of frustration,” said McIlroy. “And you walk off with a quad and that’s not very good.”• Luke Donald began the day 1-over and two strokes behind Mickelson. Here’s how the early part of Donald’s final round went: He hit a tournament volunteer on the head on the third hole (she was apparently all right); on No. 4, his approach shot narrowly missed the water, but he had to chip back toward the hole with his right foot in the creek. That went into a bunker and he bogeyed that hole. Donald would go 5-over on holes 3-6 and finish tied for eighth, at 6 over.
• Then there was Steve Stricker, who was also a shot behind Mickelson to start the round. His tee shot on No. 2 went right and out of bounds. After his second tee shot found the fairway, he shanked what was his fourth shot, going way right again. That led to an 8 on the par-5 hole and put an early end to Stricker’s chances. After finishing tied for eighth with Donald, he continues to be the player with the most PGA Tour victories (12) without winning a major.
Observations• Tiger Woods finished at 13 over, his worst four-day performance at a major. Woods continues to play well between majors, but when he gets there, it’s another story. The count is on for No. 15 again. It’s been five years, since the 2008 U.S. Open, that he’s won one.
• Among the Philadelphia sports legends seen walking around Merion last week: Jameer Nelson (Saint Joseph’s basketball), Ron Jaworski (Eagles), Harold Carmichael (Eagles).
Will the U.S. Open return to Merion, which sits on just 111 acres and taxed the surrounding neighborhood with all the extra infrastructure and temporary buildings an Open requires? Let’s hope so, and don’t wait another 32 years for it to happen.