As a young PGA Tour newcomer, and even as a teenager, Jason Day brashly but congenially announced his intention to become the No. 1 player in the world.
Still young, but no longer a newcomer, has made good on that promise.
The 27-year-old Australian, who became a Tour regular in 2008, cruised to the BMW Championship at Conway Farms in Lake Forest on Sunday, his fourth win in six tournaments, to ascend to being the top-ranked player in the world. He’s the third No. 1 in three weeks.
“Right now, there’s no one on this planet that’s better than me. That’s pretty cool,’’ Day said with a laugh. “Of all the golfers in the world, right now I’m the best. It’s such a good feeling.’’
A final-round 69 left him 22-under, six shots ahead of runnerup Daniel Berger.
“This whole summer has been a whirlwind,’’ an emotional Day said. “I don’t think it will sink in until tomorrow when I look at the rankings and see my name on top of the list. All the hard work, and just knowing that there was that belief, that I could really believe in myself and understand that all this [work] was for a good reason.’’
Day played a solid three-birdie, one-bogey final round, with birdies on two of the last three holes. He is the third Australian to be ranked No. 1, following Greg Norman and Adam Scott.
“To be honest, I had terrible sleep over the last few nights,’’ Day said, “thinking about winning this tournament, knowing I had to win this tournament to get to No. 1 in the world. I didn’t want to lose it because obviously having a big lead like that and losing it would have been terrible for me personally.’’
Humble despite his pride at accomplishment, Day explained why his meteoric rise hasn’t sunk in yet.
“I still feel like a regular guy,’’ he said. “You think there’d be this big shining moment. But I’m just a regular guy like everyone else. Everyone has dreams. As long as you stick to them and work hard, you can accomplish anything.’’
Starting the day with a six-shot lead, Day was never challenged. Bubba Watson (65) went 7-under on his first 14 holes, but was still six shots behind Day. Jordan Spieth also remained six back after a front-nine 31.
Berger, 22, a rookie out of Florida State, was thrilled to be after shooting a final-round 69.
“It’s pretty awesome to be headed to the Tour Championship in my rookie year,’’ said Berger, who jumped to No. 9 after being ranked 46th. “I was just trying to have some fun. I’m so proud of the way I battled the last four days.’’
Scott Piercy, the veteran who finished third to move from 44th to 20th in the FedEx standings, also was pleased: “I won today just getting to the Tour Championship. Jason is going to be tough to beat.’’
–Hunter Mahan, the only player who had advanced to every Tour Championship since this format debuted in 2007, will not be among the 30 players who advance to Atlanta for the Tour Championship, which begins Thursday. Mahan wound up 49th in the FedEx Cup standings after tying for 32nd at the BMW, at 7-under par.
–The top five in the FedEx Cup standings— Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson—did not change at the BMW.
–The BMW moves to Crooked Stick, near Indianapolis, next year before making a final appearance at Conway Farms in 2017. The BMW will shift to Medinah No. 3 in 2019 after being played in the Philadelphia area in 2018.
Follow me on Twitter @HerbGould