Prior to this season, you might have believed that Jason Day was the least among equals in golf’s new Big Three. After all, Rory McIlroy has won four majors in his career, and Jordan Spieth was coming off a 2015 season in which he took five events, including the Masters and the U.S. Open. Meanwhile, it took Day a long time to learn how to close on the PGA Tour, and last summer’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits remains his only major title.
That narrative has changed significantly over the past two weeks. Day has been playing some absolutely outstanding golf, logging back-to-back wins at a pair of venerated tournaments, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and WGC-Dell Match Play. The Aussie has risen to the top spot in the world rankings, holding a healthy lead over Spieth, and he’s now won six events in his last 13 starts, a positively absurd run.
Spieth and McIlroy, on the other hand, have seen their share of struggles over the past few weeks. All things considered, both are playing well, but doubts exist about both men as they prepare for the Masters next week. Spieth has looked fatigued at times in 2016, and he’s been signing for more poor rounds than usual. In interviews, he’s sounded frustrated, acknowledging various mechanical problems but sounding unsure of how to fix them. McIlroy has been pretty good (he finished fourth at the Match Play) though not dominant, as he’s trying to adjust to a new putting stroke.
There are no such doubts about Day. While the others have cooled off, he has continued to heat up. There is no disputing that Spieth had a superior 2015 season, but it’s also undeniable that Day has been better over the past six months. Since last August, he has accumulated more wins than his fellow Big Three members combined. While 2016 has seen a kind of resurgence for the PGA Tour’s 30-something stars, he has maintained a stellar level of play.
The fact that Day has bagged only a single major in his career still looms large, but the Masters is just around the corner. He’ll be the odds – on favorite at Augusta National next week and if he keeps hitting the ball like he has been, he could win it going away. He’s seen some Masters success in the past – he was co-runner up in 2011 and notched a solo third in 2013. That experience, along with his current form, puts him at the top of the shortlist, above past champions like Bubba Watson and Adam Scott, both of whom have enjoyed fantastic seasons so far.
Once regarded as a talented player who simply couldn’t win, Day has shed that reputation and is now the frontrunner to win the most coveted prize in golf: a green jacket. If he pulls it off, he’ll still be trailing McIlroy in the major count, but he will cement his status as the top player in the world. Day’s day at the Masters may finally be approaching.