(Reuters) - Australian Jason Day flirted with golfing perfection over the first nine holes before coming down to earth with a resounding bump after the turn in the Las Vegas Open final round on Sunday.
In pursuit of an unlikely victory in the opening event of the PGA Tour's Fall Series, Day knew he needed to shoot an unthinkable 58 to give himself a "sniff" at a second victory on the U.S. circuit.
The 24-year-old went into the final round a distant seven strokes off the pace but tore apart the TPC Summerlin layout in near-perfect scoring conditions with a scorching front nine of seven-under-par 28.
Day surprisingly missed a three-foot birdie putt at the 10th that would have earned him a share of the lead, then missed several more chances before ending his round with a double-bogey after finding water with his second shot at the last.
"The only blemish was obviously the missed green on 18, but I thought I was going to shoot 59 today just the way things were going," Day told reporters after closing with a six-under 65 to finish alone in fourth, six shots behind winner Ryan Moore.
"I was hitting it good; I was putting it good, too. I just didn't capitalize on the opportunities I had on the back nine."
Day always knew his chances of victory in the Nevada desert were very slim after heading into the final round so far back but he still had a target in mind.
"Probably 58 I'm guessing that I had to shoot," he said. "We picked 24 (under par as the winning total). Yeah, I was thinking 58 to try and at least have a sniff at it."
Asked about his squandered birdie opportunity at the par-four 10th, Day replied: "I can think about all the putts that I missed today. During the first three rounds I missed a ton as well.
"But I'm very excited the way I played over the last two days, even the last four days. I'm looking forward to McGladrey's. You know, I feel like I'm going to win soon."
Day, whose only PGA Tour victory came at the 2010 Byron Nelson Championship, will next compete at the October 18-21 McGladrey Classic at Simons Island in Georgia, the third of four events in the Fall Series. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)