OAKMONT, PA. – Jason Day didn’t sleep with the lead on Saturday night, but he likely slept better than the men he’s chasing, none of whom have his ranking or his championship pedigree.
The top-ranked golfer in the world shot 66 in the third round of the U.S. Open to move to 1 over par and a tie for eighth place. He began the second round tied for 45th and 10 shots behind the leader; he ended Saturday tied for eighth and six shots behind.
Just as important, he finished. Only three of the top 11 players on the leaderboard finished their rain-delayed third rounds Saturday and will be able to sleep in Sunday morning, while the others will have to finish their rounds beginning at 7 a.m. and then wait for the afternoon to start their final rounds.
“They’re going to be waking up at 5 a.m. to play the rest of their holes,” he said. “It’s going to be warm tomorrow and then to have to come back and play 18 holes in the afternoon. … They may have it physically and mentally a little bit tougher.”
The description of Saturday as “moving day” might work no matter how the words are ordered. Day has played seven consecutive third rounds in majors under par. He is 21 under in those seven rounds.
In his past four majors he has finished ninth, fourth, first and 10th. If there is anyone in the field capable of intimidating leaders, it may be Day, who is the best combination driver and putter on tour.
Asked if he may be helped by the fact that those in front of him have not won a major, Day said, “Depends on how they look at it. If they want to go out there and think they’re ready to win a major, then it’s obviously going to be tougher because they’re going to be focused and ready.
“I don’t think it matters in times like this when it’s just mentally and physically grueling. Not only when you’re out there, but when you get back, you’re always thinking about it at nighttime.
“It’s good to have a major under my belt, but I’m just trying to win this tournament. I think I’ve given myself an opportunity. We’ll see how those guys go in the morning, and hopefully I’ll be there.”