Wed, Jan 31, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Day defeats Noren, sets sights on No. 1 spot

Reuters, LA JOLLA, California

Australia’s Jason Day poses with the trophy after winning the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines South in La Jolla, California, on Monday.

Photo: AFP

Australian Jason Day on Monday won for the first time in 20 months when he beat Alex Noren in eerie silence in a playoff at the Farmers Insurance Open.

With the course closed to the public for logistical reasons, Day sealed victory with a birdie at the sixth extra hole after Sweden’s Noren found a water hazard with his second shot at the par-five 18th at Torrey Pines.

It was the 11th PGA Tour triumph for Day, which lifted him from 14th in the world rankings to 10th.

The 30-year-old had not won since the Players Championship in 2016 when he was ranked world No. 1.

“It’s been a long time [without winning], so happy to start off the year great,” said Day, who also triumphed at Torrey Pines three years ago. “I was close at the Australian Open last year and didn’t quite get over the finish line, but it’s really nice to get over the finish line here.”

Day and Noren could not be separated in five extra holes on Sunday before the playoff was suspended due to darkness.

It lasted just one more hole on the resumption after Noren narrowly failed to clear the pond guarding the green with his second shot.

Day, who laid up after driving into the rough, punched his third shot to tap-in distance for an easy birdie, pretty much ending Noren’s chances.

After taking a penalty stroke, Noren had to pitch in for a matching birdie, a task that proved too much.

The Swede was seeking his maiden PGA Tour victory. He has won nine times on the European Tour.

He had no regrets at going for the green from 250 yards and was only a whisker from pulling off a shot that would have probably set up an easy birdie.

His ball landed on the bank of the pond, but trickled back in.

“I thought if I hit a good one it would be back of the green,” he said.

Day has set his sights on returning to world No. 1.

He dominated the game for a nearly 10-month stretch from August 2015 through May 2016, winning seven times, including his first major at the PGA Championship, but family worries as his mother dealt with cancer, and a recurrent back problem, subsequently set him back.

“The major championships always are key for me, I always want to be able to give myself a good opportunity at winning those, but this is the start of the road to get myself back to No. 1,” Day said. “I’ve got to shoot for that goal because if I don’t, then I’m not working hard enough and I’m not doing the right things.”

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