McKinney, Texas — Jason Day didn’t make a Mother’s Day call until he saw his late mother’s name on the back of his caddy bib on the first green during Byron Nelson’s final home run.
It was just one more reason for the outpouring of emotion over the Australian’s first victory in five years.
Day shot a 9-under 62 to a one-shot win over Austin Eckrot and Sei Woo Kim on Sunday, ending a drought plagued by health issues that overlapped Dening Day’s long battle with lung cancer before her death just over a year ago.
“It was very emotional to go through and experience what she was going through and then have injuries on top of everything going on in my life,” Day said. “It feels weird to be sitting here.”
Day, winless in 105 starts since 2018 Wells Fargo, took his first straight lead from a large pool of contenders when he broke a tie at 20 with hometown favorite Scotty Scheffler with a chip-in for the Birds in the par-4 12th.
It was the second hardest hole of the week after converting from a par 5 of the first two years Nelson was held at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, about 30 miles north of Dallas.
The day finished 23-under as he ended his win drought the week before for the PGA Championship. The only major of the 35-year-old’s 13 wins was the 2015 PGA.
Day’s first PGA Tour win came in 2010 Nelson, and the victories kept coming until his back and spinners were on the verge of leaving the game in recent years.
“To be on the other side of that, be healthy, feel good about my game, and finally win again,” Day said. “There really is no better feeling.”
CT Pan finished 21-under at 263 with Nasreen in the back nine on a career low 62, driving the green on a par-4 14 and making a 24-foot putt. His eagle at par-5 earned him the shot of the day.
Scheffler finished in a 20-under final-round 65 after leveling at 18, as his second shot a day earlier hit the lip of a fairway bunker and stayed in it on the way to bogey.
The 2022 Masters tournament winner was playing for the first time in a month after this year’s Masters and the RBC Heritage tournament. The hometown spotlight came into focus after three-time winner Jordan Spieth withdrew with a wrist injury.
“I feel like I played hard,” Scheffler said. “Things that I have wanted to improve over the past three weeks, I feel I have done a good job. I didn’t swing my best this weekend, but I’m sure it will be an easy fix next week.”
Ryan Palmer, a 46-year-old from Texas who lives not far from Craig’s ranch, shot a 68 and shot four strokes back as he attempts to become the oldest PGA Tour winner since Phil Mickelson won the 2021 PGA at age 50.
With a downpour near the end of a rainy, intermittent final run, Day put his approach at 18 within 3 feet. The birdie’s short batting forced Kim Dae into an easy flick before he welcomed his children and wife, who is expecting their fifth child.
Kim, who shot 63 and was 22-under with eCroat, was trying to make it four consecutive winners for South Korea in Nelson. Two-time defending champion KH Lee finished 11th under the No. 67, his best run of the week.
Sung Kang was the 2019 winner. Nelson was canceled due to the pandemic in 2020.
Eakroat, a 24-year-old rookie from Oklahoma seeking his first win in his career, had two shots on the 18th fairway, but his approach landed 68 feet from the pin. The width of the eagle was 6 feet tall as the equats settled at 65.
The day started the final round two strokes back and was part of a six-way tie for the lead with the final group about to make its turn. Nine players were just short of the lead at about the same time.
“I looked at the ninth hole and saw that I don’t know how many players there were, but 10, 15 guys had a chance to win realistically, and it was crazy,” Ikroat said. “You’re just trying to get up there, and it was fun getting a little breakaway at the end and seeing if you could have a shot at winning.”
China’s Marty Du, who is playing on his home court and also seeking his first round win while playing the final set with Ecoroats and Palmer, hit a 67 to finish 20-under. Dou was the first to reach the mark before a double bogey at No. 8 when his second shot went out of bounds over the green.
Scheffler, the second player who could have overtaken John Rahm for first with a win, is joined by Tyrell Hutton who was 20th on the Nelson Stadium world rankings at No. 17.