Jason Day using mind games to advance at Match Play

February 25, 2011

MARANA, Ariz. (AP) — Jason Day played some more mind games in his 4-and-2 victory over Paul Casey on Thursday in the Match Play Championship.

The 23-year-old Australian made Casey putt out from about 1 1/2 feet – a distance normally conceded in match play – on the par-5 13th just to irritate the Englishman.

“He looked really angry at me, too,” Day said. “It was only about a foot and a half. … But it’s not about that hole, it’s about the future holes coming on. So if I can make him a little angry, if I can get him out of his game plan and force him to make silly decisions out there, that’s obviously part of the mind games that you play.

“Obviously, match play is a different format to stroke play. At the end of the day, you’re all mates and stuff. But when you’re playing against the guy across from you, you want to try to beat him as quick as possible.”

On Wednesday in a 3-and-2 victory over K.T. Kim, Day made a point of walking in front of the South Korean player throughout the match.

“Paul walks pretty quick, so it was pretty tough to stay in front of him,” Day said. “The competition is very, very tough. Just being out there reminds me of all the old days when I was back playing as an amateur and as a junior. There’s a few little mind games out there.”

Day won the Byron Nelson Championship last year for his first PGA Tour title. He also won a 2007 Nationwide Tour event in Ohio at 19 to become the youngest winner in the second-tier tour’s history.

In the third round, he’ll face J.B. Holmes, a 1-up winner over Ernie Els.

OGILVY ADVANCES: Geoff Ogilvy won the par-4 18th with a par to beat Thomas Bjorn 1-up, setting up a third-round match against Bubba Watson.

Ogilvy, the 2006 winner at La Costa and 2009 champion on The Ritz-Carlton course at Dove Mountain, beat Padraig Harrington 4 and 3 in the first round. Bjorn was coming off a 19-hole victory over Tiger Woods.

“Obviously, one of my favorite tournaments. I enjoy the format,” Ogilvy said. “It’s kind of a weird one, you could come here and be here for three hours, or come here and play more golf than you’ll ever play in a golf tournament. The cliche is one day at a time. I try to win the match I play that day. And if I do, I get to come back tomorrow and do it again.”

The Australian returned to play three weeks ago in the Phoenix Open after gouging his right index finger on a coral reef in Hawaii before the season-opening Tournament of Champions. He needed 12 stitches to repair the cut.

“There’s no mark there anymore,” Ogilvy said. “It’s a tiny bit sensitive. It’s on the firing line, where the right finger is touching the grip. It’s more comfortable to put something over the top, so I don’t have to think about it. As far as hitting golf balls, it’s a hundred percent, but just a little red and sensitive still.”

OVERPOWERING: J.B. Holmes beat Ernie Els 1-up, blasting drive after drive well past the South African star.

Holmes won the par-5 second hole with a birdie after hitting a 373-yard drive, hit a 362-yarder on No. 5, a 350-yarder on No. 7 and won the par-4 10th with a birdie after a 356-yard blast. He then drove 370 yards on No. 17.

“I’ve been hitting my driver great this week,” Holmes said. “I was 40, 50 yards past Ernie a few times today. … I would assume it’s intimidating to see that. I’ve got lower irons and I always get to see what they do.”

In the field as an alternate when Tim Clark withdrew Tuesday because of an elbow injury, Holmes arrived at Dove Mountain early Wednesday and got about 4 1/2 hours of sleep before beating Camilo Villegas 4 and 2 in the first round.

“I got some sleep last night, so I’m good,” Holmes said.

DIVOTS: Ben Crane’s 8-and-7 victory over Rory McIlroy matched the second-largest margin in tournament history. Tiger Woods set the record in the 2006 first round, beating Stephen Ames 9 and 8. In the other 8-and-7 wins, Ames beat Robert Karlsson in the 2007 first round and Woods routed Stewart Cink in the 2008 final. … Eight Americans – Crane, Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes and Ryan Moore – advanced to the third round. Last year, only four U.S. players reached the round of 16. … The second-round losers received $95,000. The third-round losers will get $140,000.