2018 Farmers Insurance Open: Jason Day gets first win since 2016 in extended playoff
Jason Day took home the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open in a six-hole sudden death playoff over Alex Noren with a birdie on the final hole to Noren’s bogey. The birdie capped off a remarkable six holes of golf for the Aussie in which he made four birdies and secured the 11th win of his career.
The tournament was boring on Sunday during the final round. Then it was enthralling as Day, Noren and Ryan Palmer went at it in a five-hole playoff that spilled into Monday (Palmer dropped out after the first playoff hole). Then it was anticlimactic on Monday as Day ended it early with that easy birdie on the sixth playoff hole following the overnight wait for the ending.
The trio of Day, Noren and Palmer combined to shoot a very uninspiring combined 1 under number in the final round. But Noren and Day combined to make six (!) birdies and four pars in the five playoff holes on Sunday before it got too dark to continue.
A switch was flipped between regulation and the playoff that turned the end of this tournament into must-see theater. Day was hitting heaters out of the rough over water from monumental distances. Noren was stuffing everything he looked at, like Joel Embiid on a 9.5-foot goal. It was compelling.
And then it wasn’t. On his second shot into the par-5 18th on Monday during the sixth playoff hole, Noren dropped a 3-wood into the water, and it was all but over. Day wedged a lay up to two feet and easily made the birdie and the win.
It was the right outcome. As well as Noren played, Day didn’t miss a shot in the six-hole playoff. He made four birdies and missed ending the event by inches on three different holes. It’s his first win since May 2016 at the Players Championship and his second in four years at this course. He joins a group that includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Arnold Palmer as multiple-time winners of the Farmers Insurance Open.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Day told Peter Kostis of CBS Sports. “Last year wasn’t the greatest season for me. I had some stuff off course that was a little distracting with my mother obviously having cancer. It’s special because I worked very hard in the offseason to get back to this position.”
Day actually withdrew from the Wednesday pro-am because of a bad back that he said he threw out the week before. He played his first 12 holes of the event in 3 over before playing the next 45 in 15 under to put himself in position to get into the playoff. That stretch included a round-of-the-tournament 64 on Friday, which got him squarely into contention.
“I didn’t realize I had a chance this week,” Day added. “Going back to earlier this week, I never though was going to actually play because of my back. I’m very thankful for my whole team. We had to stay patient. The goal as always is to get back to No. 1. This is a step in the right direction.”
Since rising to No. 1 in the world in 2016, Day has fallen considerably. He came into this event ranked No. 14, but this win will likely propel him back inside the top 10. It’s his 11th victory in 214 career starts. That’s a 5.1 percent winning percentage, which is fabulous in this era.
After being on the golf course for eight hours on Sunday, trying to secure a dramatic victory, it took Day only a few minutes on Monday to do so. It wasn’t thrilling in the moment, especially without fans in attendance on Monday, but it could portend a big 2018 for the Australian.
“I was up all night last night thinking about trying to get that next win, No. 11,” Day noted to Kostis. “I’m really happy. I had my best mate on the bag. It was a nice way to go.”