Being a desert regular is translating to on-course desert success for Jason Day.
Competing in the American Express for the second consecutive year after never having played in the event in his first 20 years on the PGA Tour, Day’s steadily resurgent game found the veteran Aussie tied for 16th heading into final round play.
After opening the tournament with rounds of 67 and 64, the 35-year-old managed a 2-under par 70 at La Quinta Country Club on Saturday. Day is tied for 16th place at 15-under entering the final round.
The world’s top-ranked player for 51 non-consecutive weeks across 2015-17, the 12-time Tour winner appears to have found distance from the back injuries which have long plagued his play. In concert, swing changes across the past year-and-a-half have begun to display shades of the Day of old.
“It definitely is different,” said Day of a noticeably more shallow swing plane. “It’s funny, there’s some of the old stuff that pops in every now and then. I’m trying to make some changes, and a couple of bad swings over the last three days, that’s pretty much what cost me some shots. But other than that, I feel pretty happy with where things are. It’s a lot better, and it’s going to be even better six months down the road, a year down the road.”
Injuries considered, Day has rarely competed in more than 20-plus events over the course of his storied career. For the 2022-23 wraparound campaign, however, the American Express already represents his seventh official tournament, a list which doesn’t include the unofficial event QBE Shootout in mid-December. Between the QBE and the American Express, Day continued to fine-tune his swing changes.
“In that time, I was doing a lot of technical work, so it’s nice to be able to come out to a place where there’s not a ton of wind and it’s kind of playing in a dome,” said Day, who will again compete in next week’s Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego. “So, you just have an understanding of where things are in the game, and what you need to work on going forward.”
For the winner of the PGA Championship in 2015, such work often takes place at The Vintage Club in Indian Wells, where Day is a longtime member.
“It’s great — perfect grass, perfect weather. It’s great to be out here,” Day said. “They’ve been great to me out there, and I’m able to bring my family as well. That’s kind of how I’ve always been, always come out to the desert early (in the season). To be able to come out here, to utilize The Vintage Club, practice there and get ready for these tournaments. This area, it’s just a little bit of golfing heaven out here.”
Off course, the father of four adds that the desert lifestyle has proven a fine, longtime fit for both his personality and his family album.
“I just like how quiet and cruise-y everything is out here,” Day said. “I’m more of a quiet person, so I tend to gravitate towards places like this. For me, personally, it’s more of a professional thing, where I can come out and get ready for the season. But we typically take family photos, whether it’s at Joshua Tree or around the Palm Springs area. We always seem to do that every single year.”