His first Masters victory in 1997 inspired Jason Day to devote his life to golf; 22 years later the Queenslander has shared in one of the most extraordinary days in sporting history.
Tiger Woods completed one of the most remarkable comebacks sport has ever witnessed by capturing a fifth green jacket at Augusta National Golf Club by a single stroke in the early hours of Monday morning and he had to get past Day to do it.
For the first time in the history of The Masters the threat of an afternoon thunderstorm caused officials to send players out in threesomes off both tees from 7.30am, the final group teeing off some six hours earlier than the traditional 3pm Sunday start time.
A birdie at the par-5 2nd for the third time this week got Day moving in the right direction early in the final round, a bogey at the 4th and two birdies at 7 and 8 moving him inside the top-10 and five shots off the lead as he began the back-9.
He picked up another shot at 13 when his eagle putt just stayed out on the right side and he converted his birdie chance from close range, a further birdie at 15 moving him into a tie for fourth and just three shots off the lead.
A birdie chance that burned the right edge at 16 would have brought Day level with the leaders, a par save at 17 keeping him two shots back as the leaderboard underwent a dramatic Sunday reshuffle.
A murderous drive down the left side of the 18th fairway put Day in position to attack the final green with a wedge, his approach to six feet setting up a birdie for a final round of 67 and the clubhouse lead at 11-under par.
It would ultimately prove to be two shots adrift of the winning number in a tie for fifth but it was an extraordinary performance for its own reasons.
When he paused for treatment on the second tee after a bogey at the par-4 first in round one, Day’s prospects of getting through four rounds – never mind contending for the green jacket – looked slim.
Aggravating the back injury that has plagued him all year as he bent down to kiss his daughter Lucy when leaving the practice putting green, Day could barely walk as he opened with a 2-under par 70, a pep talk from wife Ellie on Thursday night inspiring him to shoot 67 on Friday and take a share of the lead.
Day and fellow Queenslander Adam Scott were part of a five-way tie for the lead at the halfway mark but rounds of 73 and 72 respectively in the third pushed them both outside the top-10, Day lamenting a late bogey at 15 after hitting his second shot into the water that saw him play the par-5s in 2-over.
Two birdies, a bogey and a double bogey at the par-3 fourth dropped Scott seven places to a tie for 19th as he made the turn at 6-under par, a back-9 of 36 good enough to secure a seventh top-20 finish at The Masters.
With their two countrymen in contention at the top of the leaderboard, Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith also qualified for the weekend, the pair at even par and tied for 36th at the halfway mark.
A round of 3-under 69 moved Smith into a tie for 25th through three rounds but he endured a difficult final day, bogeys at 4, 5, 7 and 11 and a double-bogey at the famous par-3 12th – a hole that caused carnage amongst the final groups on Sunday – contributing to a 5-over 77 and a tie for 51st.
Leishman’s wild ride on Sunday at Augusta consisted of eight bogeys, five birdies and just five pars as he finished tied for 49th, birdies at 12 and 16 the highlights of a final round of 75.
Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia
T5 Jason Day 70-67-73-67—277
T18 Adam Scott 69-68-72-73—282
T49 Marc Leishman 72-72-70-75—289
T51 Cameron Smith 70-74-69-77—290
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