Considering how he has been playing, including coming within a shot of winning the PGA Championship on Sunday, Jason Day has confidence enough to relish challenges. “The harder the course is,” he said Monday, “the better.” So there is good news for him in the schedule. Next stop: Bethpage Black.
Like many other leading pros who are not competing in the Olympics, Day will take a few weeks off and return for The Barclays, which will be at the Black Course on Aug. 25-28. That is fine with Day, the defending champion of the tournament, which was held last year at Plainfield (N.J.) Country Club.
It will be the rotating event’s first turn on Long Island since 2012.
“So my memory is a little fuzzy on the golf course,” Day said on a conference call with reporters, who were in the Bethpage clubhouse for media day. “But I remember how long it can play, how brutal the rough can be. The green complexes are somewhat difficult . . . It has held up under the biggest stage, which is holding major championships.”
The Black will not be set up as severely for The Barclays, the opening event in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs, as it was for the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens. But it does have cachet among players.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge,” said Day, who pressed Jimmy Walker in the closing moments of the PGA at Baltusrol on Sunday by making an eagle putt on the final hole, forcing Walker to make a tense par for a one-stroke victory.
Having played in three different countries (with vastly different weather conditions) over the past three weeks, Day is looking forward to time off at home in Ohio with his wife and their two children. All of them had health issues last week but are fine now. He will work on his fitness and his game and will be ready for The Barclays.
“To be able to go to Bethpage Black, which is a very demanding golf course, I think will work in my favor. Hopefully,” he said.
He knows that it is not only the course that is demanding. The crowd will be urging golfers to put on a show. Day’s ears were still ringing from a week in front of New York-area galleries. “It’s hard to ignore it and even though it’s loud, I feel it makes my game better because I learn something about myself mentally,” he said.
Tournament director Peter Mele emphasized a new slate of amenities this year, including more food options than in 2012, a wine lounge, air-conditioned restroom trailers and in-seat food service. Speaking while cranes hoisted the huge grandstand into place on the 18th green, Mele said the time off for Day and other golfers such as Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson should be intriguing.
“When they usually come to our event, they’ve played a heavy schedule. They’re a little tired, it’s the heat of summer, the dog days of August and all. I think they’ll be fresher,” Mele said. “And they’ll need to be fresh when they get to this golf course.”