UNIVERSITY PLACE, Washington (Reuters) - Jason Day delivered one of the grittiest displays seen at a golf major as he fought his way into a tie for the third-round lead at the U.S. Open on Saturday, a day after collapsing on his final hole.
The Australian world number 10 had sent a shudder through the tournament on Friday when he succumbed to vertigo before he finished the second round, but 24 hours later he hung tough as he ground out a two-under-par 68 at a sun-baked Chambers Bay.
According to his caddie Col Swatton, Day considered quitting the tournament three times on the back nine on Saturday as his vertigo symptoms returned, yet remarkably he gritted his way through it all and made three birdies in his last four holes.
“The goal was just to go through today and see how it goes,” a fatigued Day told a small group of reporters after finishing at four-under 206, before heading off for further medical treatment.
“I didn’t feel that great coming out early ... I felt pretty groggy on the front nine just from the drugs that I had in my system, then kind of flushed that out on the back nine.
“But then ... the vertigo came back a little bit on the 13th tee box, and I felt nauseous all day. I started shaking on 16 tee box and then just tried to get it in, really. Just wanted to get it in.”
On several occasions during the third round, Day looked extremely fatigued and he had to lean on his caddie’s shoulder off the edge of the seventh green after making a par there.
Despite feeling worse in spells after the turn, he summoned the energy and quality of play needed to record birdies at the 12th, 15th, 17th and the par-five last as he surged into a four-way share of the lead to thunderous applause from the fans.
“He just dug as deep as he possibly could today, it was a monumental effort,” said his caddie Swatton.
“A lot of people would just spend time in the bedroom with the drapes drawn and get through that (vertigo) recovery period but it’s the U.S. Open. He just dug deeper than he’s ever done before. It was really impressive.”
One of the pre-championship favorites to win the year’s second major, Day had been concerned with his occasional problems with vertigo while heading into this week’s tournament.
The Australian has a history of dizzy spells and was diagnosed with benign positional vertigo after he received medical treatment following his collapse late in Friday’s second round.
He looked a little frail after arriving at the practice range exactly an hour before his tee time on Saturday and blinked repeatedly between shots under a blazing sun.
After working his way up from bunker shots to irons and drivers, he knelt by his golf bag while talking to his caddie before setting off to the shuttle area where he was transported to the first tee.
Many of the reporters covering the 115th U.S. Open felt that Day had no chance of completing the third round but somehow the Australian battled his way through, and into a tie for the lead.
Editing by Gene Cherry/Andrew Both