Jason Day wants to avoid being his own worst enemy today during the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational.
Day, 23, a native of Australia now living in the Columbus suburb of Westerville, shot a 4-under 66 Saturday in the third round on the South Course at Firestone Country Club.
That gave him a 54-hole score of 11-under 199 to put him in a tie for second with Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa, trailing only the 12-under 198 of Adam Scott, also a native of Australia.
Day, who has one PGA Tour title, vows to play within himself in an effort to win the first prize of $1.4 million.
“I’ve learned from the past if I go out and try to attack the course, I make mistakes and get frustrated,” said Day, who tied for 22nd place last year in the tournament. “And when I get frustrated, I don’t win golf tournaments. I think I am going to just go out there and just give my preparation 100 percent before each shot, and whatever happens after I hit the ball, happens.”
Day has had more than his share of near-misses in his pro career — including a tie for second place in the 2011 Masters — so he hopes to learn from the experiences.
“My goal is just to go there and trust every swing and try to set myself up with opportunities,” said Day, who has 15 top-10 finishes on tour this season. “If I can go out there and have fun and trust my swing and give it 100 percent, I can’t be disappointed with how I finish.”
Day certainly could not be disappointed Saturday with his round, which included six birdies and an eagle.
“I felt like I hit it pretty good today,” Day said. “I’m very happy with where I am right now.”
Day, a product of the Nationwide Tour, also was happy with the decision to make a schedule change for the third round.
Because of the threat of rain, starting times were held from 7-9 a.m., off both sides and in threesomes. The original plan was to start at 8 a.m., off the first tee only and in twosomes. That proved to be the proper call, because heavy rains started to fall just after 4 p.m.
“I’m actually pretty thankful that we teed off early because it would have been hot out there teeing off around now,” Day said in his post-round press conference about 2 p.m.
Bombs away for Watson
Bubba Watson, who is No. 2 in driving distance on the PGA Tour, dazzled the gallery by reaching the green in 2 shots on the 667-yard, par-5 No. 16.
Watson used a driver to put his tee shot out an amazing 415 yards, helped by a healthy roll. Then he took out a 4-iron and hit it 243 yards on the green, about 17 feet from the pin. He two-putted from there for a birdie.
“You know, I hit two good drives there earlier in the week, and it hasn’t rolled out like that,” Watson said. “But today I guess is a little bit downwind, so it just pushed it and it rolled pretty far.”
Watson was playing with Tiger Woods and Ian Poulter in the first group off the first tee, starting at 7 a.m. Watson liked the fact that his tee shot went well past Woods’, who was 358 yards out.
“As long as I outdrove Tiger, that’s all I care about, because he hit a good one, too,” Watson said.
Watson, 32, of Bagdad, Fla., finished the round with a 2- under 68 for a 54-total of 3- under 207, which placed him in a tie for 20th place.
Some fans might remember that Watson led the tournament after the first round in 2010 with a 6-under 64, before dropping back to finish in a tie for 22nd.
Furyk gets another ace
Jim Furyk made the first hole-in-one in the tournament by acing the 200-yard No. 5 on Saturday, using a 6-iron. Furyk finished his round with a score of 3-under 67 to stand in 30th place at 1-under 209.
It was Furyk’s second hole-in-one at Firestone Country Club. He had one on No. 15 in the 2006 Bridgestone Invitational on his way to a third-place finish.
In the third round Saturday, the easiest hole for the third consecutive day was the par-5 No. 2, which yielded an average score of 4.618 or .382 under par. It had two eagles, 34 birdies, 32 pars, 12 bogeys and one double bogey. The hardest hole was the par-4 No. 18, which played to an average of 4.184 or .184 over par. It had 11 birdies, 42 pars, 21 bogeys and two double bogeys.
In the field of 76, there were 38 players over par, 28 under par and 10 at par.
McIlroy likes his routine
Rory McIlroy, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, has spent his evenings this week with his father at the TGI Friday’s on Arlington Road.
“I’ve been there every night. It’s so easy. Me and dad just go over and eat at the bar,” McIlroy said. “It’s just across the road from the hotel and it means you don’t have to travel too far and get an early night. It’s good.”
However, McIlroy will not be there tonight. He will be traveling to Atlanta for the PGA Championship.
Billie Ferguson of Akron is retiring as tournament services manager for the Bridgestone Invitational.
Ferguson, a former teacher for Akron Public Schools, began her association with the tournament in 1998. Her primary responsibility was to serve 65 corporate hospitality clients.
Before that she was an administrator for Northern Ohio Golf Charities, as part of the volunteers for other pro tournaments at Firestone Country Club.
Stuart Appleby shot 8 over on Saturday to tumble to last in the field of 76. He is 17over.
Appleby is battling confidence issues, having missed the cut in 12 of his past 13 tournaments dating to the end of March. If there was a cut at Bridgestone, he would’ve missed it this week, too. His coach, Steve Bann, said Appleby’s back problems from earlier in the year are still hurting his game.
“It actually changed his posture,” Bann said. “You start hitting shots you’re not used to hitting and it sort of spirals from there. His back has been fine for a long time now, but unfortunately the damage was done.”
Appleby switched to a belly putter this week to try to shake up his game, but it hasn’t worked yet.
“He’s actually striking the ball fairly well,” Bann said. “He’s just not getting the lines, unfortunately.”
Appleby had five victories in 2003-06 and 10 finishes in the top 10. He has one victory since — last year’s Greenbrier Classic.
“He’s getting his swing back on the range. He just needs to get some scoring confidence going,” Bann said. “It’s hard to stay patient when you’ve never had to stay patient before.”
Paul Casey was 1over Saturday and is 5over for the tournament, but feels better this week than he has in quite awhile.
Casey’s right foot was heavily taped for his round Saturday and he’s playing with a carbon insole in his right shoe to combat a painful case of turf toe. He just received the insert this week and noticed an immediate difference.
“I’m hitting the ball better than I have in a long time,” he said. “My weight was going back on my heel to get the weight off the toe and I’ve been hitting it everywhere. It finally feels much better.”
Nike is working on a special shoe for Casey with reinforcement under the toe.
Louis Oosthuizen has spent most nights in a Jacuzzi this week trying to loosen his muscles after he was involved in a car accident Tuesday close to the course.
Oosthuizen escaped with a couple of cuts on his left elbow and some stiff muscles, but doesn’t believe it is affecting his game. He is 2 over after three rounds.
The car Oosthuizen was riding in Tuesday, driven by his caddie, was struck by another vehicle that ran a stop sign.
“I think if we were a split second faster, the car would’ve come straight into the side of us on my side,” he said. “It’s one of those where you look back and quickly see how it could’ve been a lot worse.”
Firestone’s signature hole earned its name and ruined Heath Slocum’s game on Saturday.
A poor third shot that struck a tree to the right of the green on the par-5 16th hole known as “The Monster” was the beginning of a nightmare for Slocum, who started the day at 4 under par and was 5 under after a birdie on No. 1.
Slocum’s ball ended up in the rough near the cart path. From there, he hit into the water that guards the green. After a drop, Slocum pitched over the green and then got up and down for a triple-bogey 8.
He bogeyed No. 17 as well and finished the round with a 5-over 75 and 1 over for the tournament.