MELBOURNE – Australia’s Jason Day will take a one-shot lead into what promises to be an emotionally-charged final round of the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne.
Day overhauled second round leader Thomas Bjorn of Denmark with three birdies in his closing six holes on Saturday, in a score of 66 for an overall nine under par tally on a bright but testing day at the Royal Melbourne course.
Bjorn let slip his grip on the individual trophy, with a level par 71 to remain at eight under par. American Matt Kuchar shot a 68 to be in third place at six under par.
Day and fellow Australian Adam Scott also lead the team event by one shot with Scott recording a second straight 68 to be just ahead of the defending US side of Kuchar and Kevin Streelman (74).
Day came to the contest with the tragic news of the death in the Philippines of his grandmother, six young cousins and an uncle at the hands of Typhoon Haiyan.
His Filipino-born mother, Dening, travelled down from Brisbane and met with her US-based son early Saturday.
“It was great to catch up with my mum,” he said.
“It was just good to see her as I am glad she got to come out to the golf course. She and about eight of my family will be out there tomorrow so it promises to be a very special last day.”
Day has won three times in his professional career, including his 2010 Byron Nelson Championship victory on the PGA Tour.
But, strangely, he has not tasted victory in Australia since capturing the Queensland amateur title at the Burleigh Heads Golf Club in 2006.
“It would be phenomenal to win my first professional event in Australia,” he said.
“And if Adam and I were to win the team prize then that would be a complete honour given Australia’s Kel Nagle and Peter Thomson won the World Cup of Golf for a first time here at Royal Melbourne here in 1959.
“And to bring back the World Cup of Golf here to Australia, in front of the Melbourne sporting crowd here at Royal Melbourne would very, very special.”
The day did not run smoothly for all, with Welshman Stuart Manley lamenting one of the strangest rounds in professional golf.
The 34-year-old began his round with two birdies and then saw his 8-iron tee shot at the par three, third hole take one bounce and disappear into the cup.
Manley, along with Japanese playing partner Hideto Tanihara and the crowd, began celebrating the hole-in-one shot they thought meant he had won the new Mercedes sedan parked at the back of the tee.
“I was so pumped up after the hole-in-one that I was absolutely flying walking up to the green thinking that the car was mine particularly as the crowd got really excited,” said Manley.
However Manley was then approached by European Tour Chief Referee, John Paramor to be told that the prize was only up for grabs for a hole-in-one on the final day.
To compound his disappointment, Manley took an 11 at the next hole to drop from seven under par back to level.
He then managed a 15th hole eagle, two further birdies and two bogeys to finish in a tie for eighth place at two under par.