By: Noah Thomas –
There was a shakeup in the World Golf Rankings this weekend. Jason Day, fresh off a wire-to-wire victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational a week ago, took over the No. 1 spot in the rankings from Jordan Spieth yesterday.
Just a few days after experiencing back pain that threatened to end his time in WGC Match Play before it started, Day defeated Brooks Koepka 3-and-2 in his quarterfinal match on Saturday afternoon.
Spieth’s exit the same morning at the hands of Louis Oosthuizen opened the opportunity for Day to take the top spot.
“It’s not so much about the No. 1 ranking that really gets me excited,” Day said to ESPN. “It’s more about the journey and the process that it’s taken. To get to the top of your sport takes a lot of time and dedication. It’s delayed satisfaction that I’m very happy for. To get back to No. 1 in the world is fantastic.”
Day, who will clash with Rory McIlroy on Sunday, the latter of whom has been dominating match play this week, is looking for a second straight win in PGA events as he and the rest of the Association makes its way to the Masters on April 7.
Spieth, whose 2016 season is off to a rocky start, fell 4-and-2 to Oosthuizen. He most recently finished ninth after shooting E after four rounds in the Valspar Invitational, not quite able to overcome a first round 76 that put him in the back of the field.
It was only a matter of time before the defending Masters champion slipped out of first in the rankings. Without a win thus far, Spieth will likely try and get his first victory this year in Augusta in a few weeks.
Speaking on his performance this weekend, Spieth said, “I feel like it was a big improvement this week off of the last month. If I think about it that way, we’re going to be in good shape in a couple weeks’ time and I think we’ll get in contention next week, and hopefully hold a little more consistency there come the weekend.”
He finished in 2nd at the Masters as a rookie back in 2014. Bubba Watson, who has also been relatively quiet this year, came from behind to claim his second Masters victory that year after Spieth blew his lead in the final round.
Spieth came back stronger than ever in 2015. He tied Tiger Woods’s Masters record with a final -18 score, winning golf’s most sacred event in a blowout.
He seemed to think afterwards on Saturday that his subpar performance (not in a good way, and no pun intended) would take pressure off of him going forward.
Others don’t think so.