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Day Returns To Winner's Circle, Ko Wins in Playoff | Sunday Swing

Day Returns To Winner's Circle, Ko Wins in Playoff | Sunday Swing

Day Returns To Winner's Circle, Ko Wins in Playoff | Sunday Swing

May 15, 2023

Welcome back to the Sunday Swing presented by 2nd Swing Golf. This week in the world of golf, both the PGA Tour and the LPGA Tour wrapped up tournaments on Mother’s Day. On the PGA Tour, a strong field gathered at TPC Craig Ranch for the AT&T Byron Nelson in preparation for the season's second major next week. Meanwhile, the LPGA Tour was at Upper Montclair Country Club in New Jersey for the Cognizant Founders Cup. 

AT&T Byron Nelson - Tournament History 

The AT&T Byron Nelson was established during World War 2 in 1944 and is one of just two tournaments on the PGA Tour that is named after a former player. The other, of course, is the Arnold Palmer Invitational hosted at Bay Hill earlier in the PGA Tour’s season. In Byron’s career, he won 52 times on the PGA Tour which included five major championships- the Masters twice, the PGA Championship twice, and the U.S. Open once. Nelson’s best year came in 1945 when he won 18 of the 30 events he played in, including a stretch of 11 consecutive victories. This event has been played at many different venues under many different title sponsors, but Byron Nelson’s name has always remained constant. In 2021, the tournament moved to TPC Craig Ranch, a Tom Weiskopf design located just north of Dallas. The first two editions at Craig Ranch proved that birdies can be made in bunches, and players will need to post impressive scores to have a chance at hoisting the trophy on Sunday afternoon. South Korea’s K.H. Lee entered the week as the back-to-back defending champion with final scores of -26 and -25. 



The Big Swing

This week the Big Swing belongs to the resurgent veteran, Jason Day. Day, who is now 35 years old, has had quite the career consisting of highs and lows. In 2015, we saw Day rise to the very top of the game when he reached the No. 1 in the world rankings. That season, Day won five tournaments including the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. He would win five more PGA Tour events between 2016 and 2018, but then injuries plagued his game for the next several seasons. Having not won since 2018, Day’s game has been trending in the right direction this season, making 13 of 16 cuts for 12 top-25 and seven top-10 finishes. 

After the opening round, the story surrounded South Korea’s S.Y. Noh who opened with a course record 11-under par 60. During his round, Noh made nine birdies and an eagle along with eight pars. Also starting hot was Scottie Scheffler who, after taking last week off, started out six-under through six holes on Thursday. Scheffler would go on to post 64 and after backing it up with another 64 on Friday he had put himself in a good position to win yet another title. 

Meanwhile, PGA Tour rookie Austin Eckroat and Zechang Dou entered the mix and were squarely in contention for the Mother’s Day finish, with both Day and Scheffler lurking.

On a rainy Mother’s Day Sunday it was Dou who jumped out to an early lead. Dou started out four-under through his first seven holes to grab a two-shot lead until a double bogey at No. 8 created a log jam at the top. Making big moves were Day, Scheffler, Si Woo Kim, and C.T. Pan

Unfortunately, Scottie couldn’t capitalize on enough of his chances on the back nine and was only able to convert for two birdies, resulting in a T5 finish. Day, however, was sinking his birdie putts. After turning in 32, Day kept his foot on the gas and made birdie at 10, a clutch chip-in birdie at 12, and another pair of birdies at 14 and 15. With Si Woo Kim and Austin Eckroat both applying pressure, Day needed one last birdie on the 72nd hole (the par-5 18th) to claim his first victory in five years. 

When his drive found the left rough, he was forced to lay up to about 80 yards and would need to make birdie the “old fashioned way.” His approach game was great all week and it delivered one last time for him, as his wedge shot settled about two feet from the hole. The tap-in birdie gave him the clubhouse lead at 23-under-par. Kim and Eckroat each had chances to tie on No. 18 with an eagle, but neither could convert, and Day was back in the winner’s circle.



Winner’s Bag - Jason Day

Jason Day’s winless drought had recently reached five years – but his recent form suggested a return to the winner’s circle was near. On Mother’s Day at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Day’s final-round 62 vaulted him to the top of a crowded leaderboard. Day does not have a club deal with a manufacturer, and thus has a unique mix of brands in the bag. Off the tee, he’s bombing the new PING G430 LST driver (9 degrees). He plays two TaylorMade fairway woods (SIM Max 3-wood and Stealth 7-wood). Day’s iron set is a combo of a TaylorMade P770 4-iron and TaylorMade P7MC irons (5-PW). Around the greens, Day is playing a trio of Titleist wedges that includes two SM9s (52 and 56 degrees), and a WedgeWorks Proto (60 degrees). The club that finally pushed him over the hump was the putter. Day has experimented with a few different putter types and brands while re-finding his game, and he recently put a throwback TaylorMade Itsy Bitsy Spider Ghost in the bag which, clearly, has worked. 



In the World of Women’s Golf

This week on the LPGA Tour, the ladies headed out east to New Jersey for the Cognizant Founders Cup at Upper Montclair Country Club. The field was very strong this week and included the majority of the game’s best, including Nelly Korda, Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Jin Young Ko, Atthaya Thitikul, Jennifer Kupcho, and many more. 

While the Korda sisters seem to be a threat every time they tee it up, this week was a rare exception and both Nelly and Jessica failed to make the weekend. Instead, it was the current world No. 3 Jin Young Ko who came out firing. Ko has had plenty of success at this tournament, winning it both in 2019 and 2021. Also playing well was Australian Minjee Lee. Lee who, like Ko, is also a former world #1 and two-time major champion looking to add another win to a prolific resume. 

Lee entered the final round with a three-shot lead, but it quickly turned into a two-horse race between Lee and Ko – a treat for viewers on Mother’s Day. The two were tied at the turn, before Lee made birdies at 11, 12, and 15 to grab a two-shot lead late in the round. A bogey at the 16th by Lee and a clutch birdie by Ko on the 18th forced a playoff for the title. In the playoff, Lee’s struggles continued. The par save didn’t drop, leaving Ko with just a par needed to win the tournament – which was converted. With her win, Ko becomes the only three-time champion of this event, and she did it in just five years.