Jason Day says he is both annoyed an motivated by his fall from the top of the golfing tree in 2017, but the good news is he has not written off the season.
Day, the Australian who reached No.1 in the world in September, 2015, has not won a tournament since The Players in Florida in May, 2016.
But with the PGA Championship to be played at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina this week followed by the four rounds of the US PGA Tour playoffs, there is still plenty to achieve out of a tough season for the Queenslander.
A chat this week to Phil Mickelson, who is playing his 100th Major championship, was enlightening for Day. Rory McIlroy’s relatively quiet 2016 season, which finished in an explosion with the Fedex Cup and the Tour championship, is another example that his wants to follow.
“You can’t write yourself off, ever,” said Day. “It’s hard, because when you’re playing, and you feel like the year’s kind of gone, it’s hard to kind of pick yourself up. But, once again, there’s the PGA and there’s four FedEx playoff events.
“I remember Rory winning two events in the FedExCup last year and he ended up winning the Fedex Cup, coming off a year that probably he wouldn’t think it was the greatest year until the Fedex Cup playoffs. You never know what’s around the corner.
“I was talking to Phil last night about this. We were talking about plateaus and he was talking about a book. He was explaining this in a sense where we’re all in plateaus to a certain degree, and the way he explained it, you just never know when you’ll go from here to here, but you’ve got to all keep practising and keep staying disciplined. Because it could be next week, it could be six months down the road, it could be six years from now. But as long as you keep improving it’ll jump up and you’ll have that great run again.
“You just never know what’s around the corner. I’ve just got to focus. I feel confident about my game right now. I’m excited about this week. I’m very calm, which is good. Saying that, there’s a good chunk of events that I could play well in here and do quite well coming home.”
Day has had a season of distractions including the serious illness of his mother, Dening, to deal with as his world ranking sinks to No.7, a fact that he touched on today. He also missed a lot of golf towards the end of 2016 with a back injury.
“It annoys and motivates me at the same time to be honest,” he said. “Because I know how good I can be, because I have got to No. 1 in the world. But I think through the latter part of last year, I got a little bit burnt out. I was trying to do too many things, and my mind got a little bit away from what really made me, you know, good to get to No. 1 and how much I practised. I just solely focused on playing golf.
“Then you add being No. 1 in the world and then there’s a lot more time taken away from you. So with that being said, I think I would definitely handle it differently once I get back there. Right now … it is frustrating to me because I’m sitting there and I’m like, my game is not where it should be. I’m not doing the right things on the course. I really haven’t had the greatest year. You’re not panicking or anything, you’re just wondering why. You’re up at night thinking about, okay, what do I need to do to get back to that winning form. I think once I minimise the distractions that I’ve had in my life and can focus more on just playing golf and focus, and single-focus on golf, then everything will take care of itself.”
Day said he felt his speed returning at the Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio last week, and he has been working diligently on his short game, which he described as “very poor” in 2017. He tees off with X other Australians tonight at 10.35 pm (Australian eastern time) at Quail Hollow.
“I’m looking forward to this week because I feel like I’m starting to turn the corner with regards to this plateau, and hopefully from there, I have a good finish,” he said. “Because really, this has been a very, very poor year for me. So hopefully I can turn it around and start playing some good golf here.”
TV Times – Live coverage on FoxSports 3 (AEST)
Saturday : 3-11am
Australian Round 1 tee times (AEST)
9.25pm (Thurs) Shane LOWRY, Stuart DEANE, Pablo Larrazabal
10:35pm (Thurs) Jason DAY, Dustin JOHNSON, Henrik STENSON
10:40pm (Thurs) Thomas PIETERS, Xander SCHAUFFELE, Rod PAMPLING
11:00pm (Thurs) Cameron SMITH, Bernd WIESBERGER, Brandon STONE
11:15pm (Thurs) Scott HEND, Kenny PIGMAN, Andrew JOHNSTON
03:05am (Fri) Adam SCOTT, Luke DONALD, Webb SIMPSON
03:20am (Fri) Danny LEE, Marc LEISHMAN, Anirban LAHIRI