Jason Day; former world No.1 talking up a return to the top

Jason Day admits he became “desensitised to winning” and felt “lost” at times during swing and injury battles which culminated in a drop to 151 in the world – a lofty fall for a major champion.

It was an eye-opening experience for the former world No.1, who also endured the loss of his mother to cancer and watched on as his mates, including Cameron Smith, achieved the things Day had previously been accustomed to.

But while his confidence wavered, it never departed him.

Three top 10 finishes to start 2023, and a move back inside the world’s top 50, have reaffirmed his belief he can still compete with a new line-up of stars like Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm, who have traded the No.1 ranking via wins in the past two weeks.

While Day isn’t getting ahead of himself, his performances in the past month have given the 34-year-old that spark of life to make his own re-ascension to the top of the world – a goal he can’t ignore.

Day knows lifting a trophy for the first time since 2018 would be, for most people, the immediate goal.

But winning is how you get back to world No.1 and he’s more than happy to set the ultimate goal.

“Yeah, I’m obsessed with it,” Day said of the No.1 ranking from his home in Ohio on Wednesday.

“Obviously, yeah, you want to win, but it’s very difficult to get to No.1 in the world without the wins. So you know for a fact you have to win along the way.

“I think over the last couple years I’ve been kind of desensitised to talking about winning. To sit here and talk about winning doesn’t feel normal right now, even though I’ve done it many times in the past.

“I just would rather not put a number on it – what happens if I say I want to win 10 more events and I get to 10 and all of a sudden I switch off?

“Do I feel like I’m a contender right now? I feel like I can play well and I can win, but to be able to walk in there and confidently say ‘I can win’ is a different story.

“I know there’s a lot of work to get back to that stage.”

Day said in the depths of his battles he almost considered walking away, but turned up the dial on his hard work and is seeing the results.

“For a moment there I was lost; I didn’t know what to do,” he said.

“I was lost swing-wise and body-wise. I was injured and on top of that, my swing wasn’t where I needed to be. I was lost mentally and all the confidence had kind of just disappeared.

“I started seeing results in practice. Then I started seeing results in social rounds, and then from there it started going to competitive rounds. It’s funny; it’s like it spiralled up with the confidence.”

After moving to 46 in the world, which will qualify him for the Masters should he stay inside the top 50 by April, Day wants to only play three more events – at Bay Hill, The Players Championship and World Match Play – before heading to Augusta.

But he also knows his position is precarious, and so if he has to play more to earn an invitation to the only major he wanted to win as a kid – 10 years after fellow Aussie Adam Scott’s victory – he will.

“I definitely want to get back to Augusta. Obviously missing the majors actually has been really tough for me to sit back and watch it,” he said.

“The only major while growing up that I wanted to win was Augusta National. So every single time I get the chance to compete in it, I’m doing everything I possibly can to prepare to try and win that event.”

Having endured all his battles in recent years, Day said he was as well placed as ever to capitalise on his upturn in form, but knows he’s just at the start of his road back to the top.

“I struggled pretty hard mentally, I would say,” Day said.

“Watching my mum go through, passing of lung cancer, that was difficult because that took not only … it was hard for me to mentally stay locked out on the PGA TOUR, but also that stress added to parts of the injuries that were going on with my own health as well.

“Stress is a silent killer and it’s something you can’t really take lightly; you’ve got to do something about it.

“I feel like for the first time in probably four years or so that I can actually focus on golf again, which is kind of strange to think about.

“The only things that I focus on are my family and golf. I can safely say that the only thing I’m focused on right now is playing good golf.”

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