[PHOTO: Getty Images]

Jason Day joked that he’s forgiven Olympic teammate Min Woo Lee for bailing on him to play a practice round with Tiger Woods at the US Open as the two prepare to represent Australia at the upcoming Summer Games in Paris.

At the recent US Open at Pinehurst, former world No.1 Day was scheduled to play an early week practice round with Lee. But the 25-year-old was later summoned by 15-time major winner Woods given his son, Charlie, is a huge fan of the Australian social media star. Lee apologised to 13-time PGA Tour winner Day and teed up with Woods, and Max Homa, with Charlie walking alongside the group.

“Yeah, ‘Minners’ and I are good mates and we play practice rounds all the time at majors,” Day said Friday. “I’m going to throw him under the bus a little, but he’ll understand. He’s a good fella. We were supposed to play a practice round at US Open, but he ditched me for Tiger. I would probably have ditched myself for Tiger. He texted me and said, ‘Hey, sorry man. I had an opportunity to play with the big cat [Woods]. I said, I’ve been there before and I would have done same thing myself.'”

https://twitter.com/Minwoo27Lee/status/1800651675532734639

World No.27 Day and No.36 Lee were confirmed on Friday as Australia’s Olympic men’s team, with both making their debut. Australia’s women’s team will be major the winner duo of world No.7 Hannah Green and No.11 Minjee Lee, the sister of Min Woo. Green and Lee were also the women’s side in Tokyo in 2021. Lee has played for the Australian women’s team at every Olympic games since it was reintroduced in 2016.

Day heaped praise on Perth product Lee, whose ball speeds with the driver regularly reach faster than 190 miles an hour while he also possess a world-class short game. Lee finished tied fifth at the 2023 US Open at Los Angeles Country Club, and tied 21st at Pinehurst. It is only his first year as a fully-fledged PGA Tour member.

“Min Woo Lee has probably the best chance [among the Australian male golfers] at getting to world No.1,” Day told Australian Golf Digest today. “He has tools, the speed, the short game and he’s a good putter. He has the confidence.”

Day was ranked world No. 1 in 2016 when he opted out of the Rio Olympics, which was reintroduced to the games after an absence of more than 100 years. One of Day’s reasons was he was concerned about Brazil and the Zika virus spreading while his wife was pregnant. He also said burnout and schedule were influences, having won a maiden major at the 2015 PGA Championship a year prior.

“I should have gone (to Rio), I know that now, because a lot of people would kill for that time to represent their country, and be on an Olympic team,” Day said. “It’s something a little bit bigger. I look at these opportunities, and when I was No.1 I took a lot for granted, I never thought there would ever be a possibility my ranking would balloon to like No.175 [in 2022], and then fight through injuries. When you are top of the world, you don’t think of anything other than the success you are having.

“Now I am able to take the opportunities and be very thankful. That’s why, looking back on the Olympics in 2016, when I was the best player in the world, that was more selfish than anything. But we learn from our mistakes. I’m thankful I have worked my way back to the position I am in, to represent Australia in the Olympics..

Day, who marked his comeback from a three-year slump with a Byron Nelson PGA Tour win last year, said he couldn’t wait to be seen at an airport in the green and gold Australian team uniform. He is desperate to give that shirt to his 12-year-old son, Dash, after Paris. He said Dash “looks at him differently” now his old man was made an Olympic athlete.

“It’s really nice to see and hear when I play with Xander Schauffele [2021 gold medallist] and Justin Rose [2016] and they announce the names, where they are from, and that they are the Olympic gold medallists, that is pretty cool to be able to hear that. I would be huge to be able to win one,” Day said.

Day has had four top-10 results this year but has struggled for form recently. He missed the cut at the US Open but wants to turn it around in time for next month’s Open Championship at Troon and Paris, where the Olympic golf tournament will be held in early August at former Ryder Cup venue, Le Golf National.

“Maybe I can play some simulator golf on [Le Golf],” he said. “I really haven’t played that great as of late. I’m trying to find a little spark. I have to do a lot of work between now and [the Open and Olympics] to give myself the best shot of winning a medal.”

Day also said he was entertaining a return trip to Australia at the end of 2024. He intends on playing the Australian PGA at Royal Queensland November 21-24, where defending champion Lee has confirmed his own participation. The Australian Open does not have a scheduled date or venue yet.

“I’m planning to come home this year,” Day told Australian Golf Digest. “My kids haven’t been to Australia and it’d be nice to take my whole family and show them where I’m from in Beaudesert [in Queensland, an hour south of Brisbane and an hour west of the Gold Coast]. If I play the PGA, I know we don’t have a set date on the Australian Open, but the PGA is not too far away from Beaudesert. I could take the family to ‘Beau-ey’, which would be fun.”