It had been a long five years for Jason Day, once the top-ranked golfer in the world before a back injury and bouts with vertigo nearly forced him to call it quits. Instead, he began to look like his former self on the course this year, racking up top 10 after top 10. He surprisingly missed the cut at Quail Hollow last week, but sometimes an unexpected weekend off allows a golfer to reset his focus. Here the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson
That’s what happened here, as Day won the 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson to snap a 105-event winless streak that lasted just over five years.
“To be on the other side of it, be healthy, feeling good about my game, finally winning again,” Day said. “No better feeling, really.”
Day was battling it out with Scottie Scheffler, the hometown favorite at TPC Craig Ranch in the Dallas area, but a birdie on the difficult par-4 12th hole put Day ahead for good. It was one of five birdies on the back nine, as Day finished with a nine-under 62 on Sunday for a 23-under 261 for the tournament.
It was a long road back to the top for Day, who played in just 19 events last year, missing the cut more times than he finished in the top 25. But continuing to get his swing back with coach Chris Como paid dividends in 2023 after working to rediscover it for nearly three years.
“It feels strange to be sitting here. I don’t know how else to explain it,” the Australian said from the media center after winning his 13th title. “To go through what I went through and then to be able to be a winner again.”
Rookie Austin Eckroat entered the day with the lead and played admirably on Sunday. In a pressure-packed round, the 65 he shot would oftentimes be good enough to win, but he finished one shot behind Day, tied with Si Woo Kim for the runner-up spot.
“Really surprised myself with how I felt,” Eckroat said. “I really felt like I played well enough to win; it’s just hard to beat a guy that goes out and shoots 9 under. A lot of positives to build off of.”
The 24-year-old jumped from 137th to 77th in the FedEx Cup standings. If he can remain in the top 125, he’ll get an exemption into all full-field events in 2024.
C.T. Pan jumped eight spots on the leaderboard after carding a 62 to finish fourth. Scottie Scheffler tied for fifth with Tyrrell Hatton and Zecheng Dou. Adam Scott, Ryan Palmer, and Vincent Norman tied for eighth.
Two-time defending champion K.H. Lee tied for 50th.
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Scheffler, Jon Rahm, and Rory McIlroy will all be on the course together for the first time since the Masters as this week’s PGA Championship, the year’s second major, which emanates from Oak Hill in Rochester, New York. Justin Thomas is the defending champion, and he’s struggled a bit this year, only carding two top-10 finishes in 2023. Tiger Woods is not part of the elite field, as he recovers from ankle surgery after he reaggravated an existing injury at the Masters. Also, 17 LIV Golf members are part of the field, including 2021 PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson.