BETHESDA, Md. --- Jason Day isn't playing for second place today at the U.S. Open.
He's already finished as runner-up in a major this year, and he wants to do better. But catching Rory McIlroy at Congressional Country Club might prove impossible.
Day shot 6-under 65 on Saturday but trails McIlroy by nine shots.
"I can't say that I wanted to play for second place, no. I always want to try to win," Day said. "And, you know, playing for second place, I guess you're playing for first loser. You've got to go out there -- I didn't really think about anything at all. I went out there and I just said, look, I've got to put up at least a decent score today to actually have a shot."
Day and McIlroy were paired for the first three rounds of the Masters Tournament this year. It looked like they might be paired for the final round, but Y.E. Yang made a late birdie to push into second place and will be paired with McIlroy today.
Day finished a couple hours before McIlroy posted 68 for a total of 14-under.
"Obviously if Rory comes back a little bit that gives us a little chance of shooting a low score tomorrow and catching him," Day said.
At the Masters, Day and McIlroy were paired with another young player, Rickie Fowler, in the first two rounds. McIlroy held the 36-hole lead with scores of 65 and 69, while Day posted the low round of the tournament with his second-round 64.
While McIlroy got the best of Day in the third round in Augusta, 70 to 72, Day had the better finish. He closed with birdies on Nos. 12, 13, 17 and 18 to shoot 68 and finish tied for second with countryman Adam Scott. McIlroy struggled to 80.
The two have known each other since they were teens playing in a pro event in Australia.
"Obviously he's got a great game. He's got a bunch of talent," Day said. "The good thing about Rory is that he's a great guy. So it's a hard guy to hate. He's a really, really great bloke and I really enjoy playing with Rory."
Day said he will play aggressive, but smart, in today's final round.
"You've got to look at it, you know, you can't fire at every pin. You've got to give yourself an opportunity to make birdie, whether it's a 10footer to a 30footer," Day said. "There's certain pins that you still have to respect out there. I just look at it this way: If I'm putting well and get myself on the green, I have a better chance of holing a putt than I do chipping in out of this thick rough."