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Day Leading And Dealing At Australian Open

Jason Day is in the drivers seat at the 102nd Australian Open (Photo: Henry Peters)
Tricky conditions made the golf difficult and less entertaining than many might have liked but the 102nd Australian Open nonetheless heads to the final round right on script: Jason Day out front and a handful of his most accomplished peers hot on his heels.

The former World  Number One showed his class on day three at The Australian Golf Club in Kensington with a three birdie-one bogey round to be 10-under and one ahead of playing partner Lucas Herbert.

There was little in the way of fireworks in terms of scoring with difficult pin placements and swirling breezes conspiring against even the best but the cream rose to the top with Day and fellow PGA Tour players Cameron Smith, Matt Jones and Jonas Blixt also under par.

Blixt’s 66 was bettered by only one player on the day, Japanese amateur Takumi Kanaya who was off early and had the best of the conditions for his 65. Blixt and Jones are at 7-under while Cameron Smith is one further back.

Jordan Spieth also returned a scorecard in the red but his 1-under 70 to be 2-under overall puts him on the outside of contention.

Day, however, is leading and dealing, a position he is more than comfortable with as he hunts his first Stonehaven Cup.

“Even when you have the lead, you can’t be defensive,” Day said of his mindset heading to tomorrow’s final round.

“You have to learn to love the lead.  A lot of guys through some of their careers have learnt to win from behind because there’s less pressure than being out in front.

“But this is a great position to be in. You always learn from being in this position regardless of what tournament it is. I’d much rather be in this position than one stroke back.”

Day knows he won’t have things all his own way with proven Tour performers Blixt, Smith and Jones right behind him and talented young Australian Lucas Herbert in his group.

“I know that I’ve got a bunch of players behind me that are going to go out there tomorrow and play their hardest and potentially could win,” he said.

“So I’ve got to be sharp tomorrow. I have to be focused and make sure that I keep pushing.”

For his part Herbert was pleased to overcome his nerves, particularly early in the day.

“Like I said yesterday I didn’t want to be a YouTube hit off the first tee,” he joked.

“I was so nervous, I don’t know how I slept last night. It’s like trying to drink three cans of red bull and then go to bed, that’s what it felt like.

“But after I made a couple of good pars there to start I was good to go.”

Day and Herbert will be paired again tomorrow, both players knowing they need to do the same thing and simply focus on their own game.

“I just need to do the same as the last three days and hit every shot as it comes,” said Herbert. “As cliché as that is.”

For Day the message was similar, acknowledging those behind would be a threat but the tournament is in his hands.

“I just need to be aggressive to my targets and sink one or two birdies and not do anything too crazy,” he said.

Day is rightly the favourite to win from here but there is the potential for a thrilling Sunday in the offing, something fans – and tournament organisers – will be hoping eventuates.

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