Following his wire-to-wire victory at The Players Championship in May, Aussie superstar Jason Day opened up about life as the undisputed world No.1, how Tiger Woods went from his childhood idol to his good mate, dealing with sick children the night before a final round and why he’s suddenly obsessed with entering the World Golf Hall of Fame.  With Brad Clifton

IT’S very pleasing to hear players of the calibre of Adam Scott refer to my recent form as “Tiger-esque”. It’s great to be even mentioned in the same sentence as Tiger. It’s only half the year done, so I’ve got plenty more opportunities to win. I’ve never been more motivated to be No.1 in the world and I’ve never been more motivated to extend that gap from No.1 to No.2. All the hard work is paying off but I’ve got to keep that hard work going. At the end of the day it’s very stressful being No.1 in the world. You’re in the limelight a lot, there are a lot of commitments outside of playing golf but I wouldn’t change it for the world. This is where I want to be. Nothing beats this feeling.
Jason Day

Tiger says he’s going to kick my butt when he comes back [to competitive golf] so I’ve got to keep pushing to extend that gap so that if he does come back and he’s turned into Tiger Woods again, I’m in a position to protect my behind.

I don’t know what Tiger’s record is for closing 54-hole leads – I think he’s only lost one – but to be able to talk to him regularly and have him text me advice is pretty cool. Heading into Sunday at The Players he told me to remember that all 18 holes are important, not just (the notorious) 16, 17 and 18. It was such great advice to get me focussed to close out the tournament. For us to have that friendship and for him to take me under his wing is pretty special. It’s been an amazing journey for me … to idolise Tiger as a junior and now to be good mates with him is surreal.

Something changed at St Andrews last year. After the disappointment of letting that British Open slip away I remember saying to myself, You’re ready to finally do this. It flat out sucks losing. It doesn’t feel good at all. I like sitting next to the trophy and telling the golf world how great a week I had. That week at St Andrews changed everything and I’ve managed to kick on ever since. I want it so bad right now. I want to win every single tournament that I’m playing in. Whether that means hitting 10 or 20 more drives a week or spending two more hours on my short game a week, I know the workload I need to put in each week to get the results. The key is not getting disappointed if I don’t win because I can learn so much from those finishes.

I’ve had a great 12 months (since St Andrews), but all the years prior to this 12-month period have been the real foundation of my success. I had to fail a lot to learn a lot about my game and it’s propelled me into the position I’m in today. Everything I do today will have an effect on what I do in the future. Winning is never enough and I need to do as much as I can before my time is up.

How many US PGA Tour wins do I want? Well, what I do know is that 10 wins aren’t enough. It’s just 10. I want more than 10. Tiger has 79. Phil is on 42. I want to be looked back on as one of the greats like those guys. To really leave my footprint on a sport that has given me so much is my motivation to win as much as I can right now. I don’t have a number of career wins in my head, but when I say I’m going to pull the trigger and retire – I guess that will be the number. It would be nice to have more than 20 wins. That would give me a lifetime exemption on the [US] PGA Tour and would mean I could come out and play 15 events (per year) and really enjoy myself. But even if that happened, it would still be an all-or-nothing attitude from me – I would come out and want to win everything. Looking back at any career, 20 wins and multiple Majors is a good effort.

Jason Day

It’s true that Rory and Jordan arrived on tour and instantly produced after much hype in their junior careers. Why did it take me longer? I remember growing up I would always talk to my coach and caddie Colin (Swatton) and he would say people thought I had so much talent. He said people believed I was going to be a great player but I never actually believed it myself. Over the years I started to slowly build confidence and became a better player. Now I believe it and I’m in it for the long haul. I know golf is a very long career and at the end of mine I want to be able to sit back and know that I incrementally got better each year. As long as I want it I know I will continue to get better.

I recently looked at the criteria of what gets you in the World Golf Hall of Fame and it said victories at The Players Championship and Majors, if you have a set amount of wins. I’m hoping my recent Players win doesn’t just get me over the line and that I can knuckle down over the coming years and finish with more than enough victories to get in there one day.

Attitude is everything. My son Dash woke up on Saturday night of The Players and threw up everywhere. I had prepped well, worked hard and felt good about my swing heading into the final round. Everything was coming along nicely. But then, Dash kind of threw in a little change-up there with … I think he had food poisoning or something like that. So I was just laying with him, and he couldn’t keep himself awake. But I’m laying with him, and he smelled because he went back to sleep and all of it’s all over me, too. (My wife) Ellie is trying to get (our baby girl) Lucy. Knowing that if I let that get to me, I could possibly lose the tournament. Because if I look at that in a negative way, and say, “Oh man, Dash kept me up all night because he was sick and it just wasn’t going my way” – if I look at it that way, instead of going, “OK, this is just something that’s been thrown at me, how do I handle it?” I’ve got to come into the day enjoying myself and go from there. And that’s how I handled it. I even forgot I still had his dummy in my pocket when I won.

There was a lot of talk about my 2-iron at The Players. I was pumping it out to 270 or 280 metres off the tee on some holes. Hitting a 2-iron is so much better than hitting a driver that sort of distance. To me it’s a lot more consistent. To be able to do that moving forward (at the British Open and US PGA Championship) is going to be a great asset to my game.