[Photo: Getty Images]

For the first time in four long years, Jason Day is focused solely on golf.

The 35-year-old Queenslander, the best player on the planet not so long ago, has come out the other side of what he describes as a ‘very humbling’ period where he lost his swing, health, motivation and – most damaging of all – his mother.

So low were the depths the 2015 PGA champion navigated, at this year’s American Express he took a wrong turn on his way home and got lost. It provided an opportunity for some deep soul searching.

“I just sat on the side of the road looking at the mountains for, like, 30 minutes. Because it felt like no matter what I did, I was just turning the wrong way every single time,” he said. “I was struggling with my body. Struggling mentally. Struggling with my mum passing. Struggling with a lot of things.”

Fast-forward to February 22, 2023 and Day is back on track and making all the right turns. He’s starting to sound like the Jason Day of old when he speaks. He’s starting to pound balls with the same vigour and swagger as the guy who stunned world golf by lifting the Wanamaker Trophy in 2015.

The Tiger-like obsession about the golf swing has returned, too. Coach Chris Como regularly fields calls from Day at 1am, just so the Beaudesert prodigy can get whatever is on his mind out for Como to assess.

“Luckily I’m not married,” jokes Como.

For someone who’s been down for so long, it’s understandable, then, that Day’s struggling to keep a lid on the excitement. It’s an air of confidence only shared by those who know the route to the top. And for Day, he hopes there will be no more wrong turns and definitely no further soul searching required.

“The goal is to try to get back to No.1,” says Day, speaking candidly with Australian media from the US.

“I’ve voiced in the past before I got to No. 1 back in 2015. I used to say it all the time, ‘I want to get to No. 1, I want to get to No. 1’. You’ve just got to speak it into existence a little bit. It’s a good time to start talking about it again.”

“It’s a very humbling experience to go from no.1 in the world to 150th. I was lost. I was injured. My swing wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I was lost, mentally. I’ve become desensitised from talking about winning. It doesn’t feel normal talking about it.”

Which is why he stopped short of adding ‘PGA Tour victory No.13’ to his immediate goals after another impressive top-10 performance at last week’s Genesis Invitational.

“The West Coast swing was great for me,” says Day, who also recorded a fifth-place finish at the WM Phoenix Open and T7 performance at the Farmers Insurance Open. “The past three starts in elevated events have helped my world ranking – I’m back in the top 50 now. (But) I see wins as little stops along the way to getting back to No.1. If it happens, great!”

What the world No.46 does hope will happen, though, is a little green envelope (Masters invitation) arriving in his mailbox in the coming weeks.

“I definitely want to get back to Augusta National,” admits Day. “Missing (three) of the Majors has been tough.”

In the meantime, Day confirmed he will play the Arnold Palmer Invitational (March 2-5), The Players (March 9-12) and the WGC-Dell Matchplay (March 22-26) to sure up his chances of making the trek to Georgia. He’s even prepared to add the Valero Texas Open to his schedule should he not already be qualified for another shot at the green jacket.

“It would be nice to be able to progress with my swing and body,” he said. “The dispersions are coming in tighter and it’s starting to yield some good golf.”

Just what every player craves at this time of year.