McKINNEY, Texas — Jason Day won his first PGA TOUR event in five years Sunday, shooting 9-under 62 for a one-shot victory over Austin Eckroat and Si Woo Kim at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
Day, winless in 105 starts since the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship, took his first outright lead when he broke a tie at 20 under with hometown favorite Scottie Scheffler with a chip-in for birdie at the par-4 12th.
It was the second-toughest hole of the week after being converted from a par-5 from the first two years the Nelson was held at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, about 30 miles north of Dallas.
Playing on Mother’s Day a little more than a year after losing his mom to cancer, Day finished 23 under while ending his victory drought the week before the PGA Championship.
The only major among the 35-year-old Australian’s 13 wins was the 2015 PGA. Day’s first career PGA TOUR victory came at the 2010 Byron Nelson.
C.T. Pan finished at 21-under 263 with two eagles on the back nine in a career-low 62, driving the green on the par-4 14th and making a 24-foot putt. His eagle at the par-5 18th got him within a shot of Day.
Scheffler finished at 20 under with a final-round 65 after a par on 18, where a day earlier his second shot hit the lip of a fairway bunker and stayed in it on the way to a bogey.
Ryan Palmer, the 46-year-old Texan who lives not far from Craig Ranch, shot 68 and finished four strokes back.
With the heaviest rain coming down near the end of an off-and-on rainy final round, Day put his approach at 18 inside 3 feet. Kim’s short birdie putt forced Day to make his easy tap-in before he greeted his kids and wife, who is expecting their fifth child.
Kim, who shot 63 and was 22 under with Eckroat, was trying to make it four consecutive South Korean winners at the Byron Nelson. Two-time defending champion K.H. Lee finished 11 under after a 67, his best round of the week.
Sung Kang was the 2019 winner.
Eckroat, a 24-year-old rookie from Oklahoma seeking his first TOUR victory, was two shots back in the 18th fairway, but his approach landed 68 feet from the pin. The eagle bid was 6 feet short as Eckroat settled for a 65.
China’s Marty Dou, playing on his home course and also seeking his first TOUR win, shot 67 to finish 20 under. He was the first two get that low before a double-bogey on No. 8 when his second shot went out of bounds over the green.
Scheffler, the second-ranked player who could have overtaken Jon Rahm for No. 1 with a victory, was joined at 20 under by Tyrrell Hatton, who was next on the world ranking list in the Nelson field at No. 17.
How the back nine Sunday unfolded at AT&T Byron Nelson
McKINNEY, Texas – Anything can happen on the back nine on Sunday.
It’s come to be a cliché on the PGA TOUR, but it’s because of days like the final round at the AT&T Byron Nelson. At various points throughout Sunday afternoon, more than 20 players were within a handful of shots, leaving plenty of room for chaos to come down the stretch.
The chain of events started a bit earlier than that during the final round at TPC Craig Ranch. The craziness really kicked off as the final group arrived at the eighth hole. Marty Dou was 20-under with a two-shot lead. He already had four birdies through his first seven holes and appeared to be on cruise control. But after driving it into the rough on the par-4 eighth hole, Dou caught a flyer, his ball carrying the bunkers behind the green, ricocheting off the cart path and out of bounds. It led to a double bogey – and suddenly it was a whole new tournament.
“I looked on hole 9 and saw I don’t know how many guys, but 10, 15 guys had a chance to win realistically, and it was crazy,” said Austin Eckroat, who was in the final group alongside Dou and Ryan Palmer.
The next few hours were spent in a constant state of flux with names cycling in and out of the lead. We tracked the progress of the final group down the stretch to get a look at where the lead stood as the final three players made their way around the course.
On the ninth tee –
The lead was now 18-under. Scottie Scheffler, Jason Day, Eckroat and Dou all shared a piece of the lead. A total of 23 players were within four shots of the lead.
“That’s when I’m like, okay, now we’re into the final nine holes, anything goes, let’s try and create some momentum,” Day said.
On the 12th tee –
The lead was now 19-under and the contenders were growing. Vincent Norrman joined the leaders after a birdie on the 11th hole. A total of nine players were tied or within one shot of the lead, 13 players were within two shots and 19 were within three shots.
As the leaders teed off, the lead changed again. Greenside after his approach shot on No. 12, Day chipped in from 37 feet away to briefly take sole possession of the lead at 20-under.
“I was in the middle of the fairway; I said to my caddie, ‘Let’s just go chip it in.’ But you’re saying that but you’re not really thinking about it, you’re just saying it just because you’re kind of filling in the blanks,” Day said. “I got up there and I’m sitting there reading like it’s actually quite straight and then I chipped it and it went in.”
On the 13th tee –
Day was still in the lead alone, now with five players within a shot, 11 within two shots and 14 within three shots. Dou bogeyed the difficult 12th to fall two back of Day and in a tie for sixth. But two players got closer to the Aussie, Eckroat birdieing No. 12 to jump to 19-under. Meanwhile, C.T. Pan entered the picture, eagling the drivable par-4 14th to get to 19-under.
On the 14th tee –
A new co-leader enters the fray. Scheffler birdied the 14th hole with Day still waiting to tee off. Both sat at 20-under. Dou bounced back for a birdie on No. 13 to get back within one and Adam Scott birdied the last hole to set the clubhouse lead at 19-under. Now seven players were tied or within one shot of the lead, 11 were within two shots and 16 were within three shots.
On the 15th tee –
Day followed suit and birdied the par-4 14th. The lead was now at 21-under, and three players – Scheffler, Eckroat and Si Woo Kim – were one shot behind. Dou failed to birdie No. 14 and now found himself two back. Pan missed a birdie putt on No. 17 that would’ve moved him to 20-under. The final group then watched Day roll in a birdie on the par-3 15th to again stretch the lead.
“The bonus was 15, to be able to get the birdie on 15, hitting a 5-iron just right of that hole on the correct plateau was crucial and rolling that putt in was nice,” Day said.
On the 16th tee –
But just as Day grabbed a two-shot lead, Pan immediately tightened it. Knowing he needed to do something special on the 18th, Pan hit his 246-yard approach to 10 feet and made the putt for eagle, rocketing him to 21-under and in second.
“I’m one of the guys to watch the leaderboard, kind of giving myself a challenge to it,” Pan said. “I knew 21-under, Jason Day was 20-under, I thought 21 had a good chance — I mean, he was 21-under so I knew I needed to make eagle.”
That he did. Soon after, Kim carded a birdie on No. 16 to pull even with Pan at 21-under, one back of Day. Scheffler and Eckroat were two back at 20-under. Dou was at 19-under along with Tyrrell Hatton, who was making a late push, birdieing Nos. 14, 16 and 17.
On the 17th tee –
Day remained at 22-under, with Pan and Kim still nipping at his heels. Eckroat re-entered the picture with a birdie on the par-4 16th to join the group at 21-under. Scheffler had a putt to get there too but left the birdie try short to stay at 20-under.
On the 18th tee –
A week that was expected to be remembered for its rain remained surprisingly dry throughout most of the tournament. That was until the final hole. With rain coming down hard and a one-shot lead, Day laid up on the par-5 18th, but he stuck his wedge shot to 3 feet and sank the putt to extend his lead to 23-under.
“We ended up with 82 yards, which was nice,” Day said of the layup. “Had the exact same shot on 6, hit a nice one there, and just kind of aimed it a lot straighter at the pin.”
Kim could tie him with a hole-out from the bunker, but he couldn’t convert, hitting it to 4 feet and finishing the round one back at 22-under.
It then came down to Eckroat, the only man who could catch Day. He went for the green in two, missing long and left it in a collection area of short grass. Like Kim, he would need to hole out from off the green, but his attempt came up 6 feet short, clinching the title for Day. Eckroat made his birdie to finish one back.
*Credit information to www.pgatour.com