Day struggled to a final round of two over 73 at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney to finish at eight under and three shots behind champion Cameron Davis.
“I just didn’t play my best and obviously it’s not great to shoot 2-over par on the final round when you’ve got the lead,” Day said to the media shortly after his round.
“It is what it is. Cameron came back and played a wonderful round of golf today to win the tournament, so he’s obviously got a lot to look forward to next year, getting into the Open Championship.”
Day looked as though he would march to the title when he opened with a birdie at the difficult par-four first hole.
But a bogey at the third and a string of pars on the front nine saw the Queenslander fall two shots behind playing partner Lucas Herbert.
The main turning point in Day’s round came at the par-four ninth when his approach shot from the right fairway bunker struck the top of the lip and rolled into the water about 90 metres short of the green and led to a double bogey.
The former World No. 1 compounded the mistake with further bogeys at the 11th and 13th.
With his hopes seemingly dashed, Day eagled the par-five 14th to breathe some life into his title claims.
While Davis put the finishing touches on his brilliant final round of 64 to finish at 11 under, Day finished his round with four straight pars in an anticlimactic result for the current World No. 12.
Jason Day speaks with the media after his final round.
“It’s obviously a little bit disappointing to come out and not finish it,” Day said.
“You can’t be perfect all the time and I played three terrific rounds actually, the first three rounds, and I just didn’t put it together on Sunday.
“When you hold the lead and when everyone is expecting you to win, there’s a bit of added pressure on top of that as well.
“The double [bogey] on 9 wasn’t the greatest, I was in the bunker and I didn’t have the greatest lie, I had a 7-iron and I’m going over water, and you have to hit it clean. I just caught it too clean and hit the lip.
“I was on the wrong side of momentum and if I could just get on the right side of momentum it may have been a different outcome today.”
Day is still searching for his first win anywhere since his victory at the Players Championship more than 18 months ago.
His fifth place finish this week draws the curtain on a year complicated by off-course distractions, including the health of his mother, Dening, and a change of caddie from his long-time coach Col Swatton to his childhood friend Luke Reardon.
Back-to-back T11 finishes to start the current PGA Tour season suggest Day isn’t too far from recapturing similar form to that which catapulted him to a year-long reign atop the world rankings.
“I didn’t have the greatest year but got to Tour [Championship], came down here, I played okay in the fall in Korea. I obviously would have loved to win over there, but I just didn’t quite have everything clicking.
“Just haven’t quite put it together this whole year and looking forward to getting some time off and trying to decompress a little bit and not even think about golf.
“This whole year I’ve been kind of stressing about how I can get better and better and better, and unfortunately when you worry about playing good, sometimes you can actually worry about it too much and force of habit a little bit and actually not end up playing good at all.”
CAMERON DAVIS FACES THE PRESS AFTER HIS SURPRISE WIN AT THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN:
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