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Jason Day says 2017 not a lost cause yet

Jason Day is looking to turn around a disappointing season to date. (Photo: Getty Images)
By any measure, Jason Day’s year to date in 2017 has been below the standards which the golfing world and he himself had come to expect.

Just two top-10s in 14 starts and a slip from No. 1 to 7th in the world rankings highlights a year that has had its frustrations but today, in a media conference on the eve of the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club, Day gave an indication he has not written off 2017 by any means.

“Well, it's not a lost year,” said Day when asked that very question. “Because, actually, the years leading up to the 2015-2016 season, they weren't lost years. It's just that I was working towards something and it ended up happening all in those two seasons.

“And it's the same this year. If I don't win, I don't win, but obviously I'm focusing on trying to win each and every week, and trying to get back to the way I felt, how sharp I was on the golf course, how sharp I was off the golf course and how motivated and disciplined I was off the golf course.

"I'm just trying to get back to that. I think if I could describe a word, the first word that comes to my mind is disappointment, not because of the actual level of play. It's just that I didn't give myself a shot to play well. And I'm not giving my mom as an excuse or anything like that; it's just that everything I do on the golf course is solely because of me and what I do off the golf course, as well.

“But, if I had to give it another word, it's improving. I'm improving each and every day now, and actually I'm hungry again and I'm looking forward to trying to beat these guys here in a bit. But I'm very motivated right now. Like I want to win again. So I'm excited about that.”

Two years ago, when Day won this event at Whistling Straits, he was riding the crest of a wave. He had just recorded a near miss at the Open Championship and victory at the Canadian Open and, in winning his first major, began a run of form that would lead to another five wins in the next nine months, remaining in the top three for all of that time and for much of it at No. 1.

He has not won since the PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP in May last year and although twice runner-up during that period, including in this very event 12 months ago, he had created such high expectations during that stretch and following that his current run feels like a slump.

You do not get to be World No. 1 and produce the sort of golf and results he was without a tremendous amount of self-belief and the 29-year-old retains much of that enthusiasm.

“I feel, coming off last week, I didn't drive it as straight as I'd hoped to do, but I feel like my speed is coming back. I feel like I'm starting to get back to the length that I had in 2015, which is great. I feel like that explosive power is coming back, which gives me confidence.

“I haven't had the great putting years that I've had, like I did over the past two seasons.

"If one of your strengths is putting, which it is for me, I rely heavily on that confidence-wise, knowing that, okay, well, even if I don't play well, I'm going to get up-and-down and I'm going to shoot a decent score. Because my game may not be great one day, and I can save myself with the putting and chipping.

"Unfortunately, this year, my short game has been pretty poor. My putting has been the same and that's kind of added a little bit more pressure on the rest of my game. Trying to hit greens and trying to hit fairways, there's been a lot more pressure because of, because I'm putting poorly.

“But 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. Because really, this has been a very, very poor year for me. So hopefully, yeah, I can turn it around and start playing some good golf here.

"That's the thing. You can't write yourself off, ever. 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 FedExCup, coming off a year that probably he wouldn't think it was the greatest year until the FedExCup Playoffs. You never know what's around the corner.

“I feel confident about my game right now. I'm excited about this week. I'm very calm, which is good. There's a good chunk of events that I could play well in here and do quite well coming home.

Day believes if he gets the chance to again reach the top of the rankings and achieve the same level of success he has previously, he will change the way he deals with the distractions the increased role of being at that level can bring.

“I guess I'll handle everything a little bit differently. I still want to be able to be accessible with regards to media and everyone else, like the fans, as well. But I think I'd probably spend a little bit more time at home. I may arrive to a tournament a little bit later than expected.

“For instance, if I get here Sunday, or, you know, if I get to a major championship Friday or Sunday before, then I'm practicing Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. That's a lot of time that media can get a hold of you or the fans can get a hold of you. There's a lot of - even though you're practicing on the golf course - there can be distractions.

Today, I actually got here this morning and I registered. I got in late last night. I did some good practice at home because the weather was great up in Ohio. Kind of things like that. I think I know what I expect; if I get back to No. 1 in the world, I know how to feel and what it feels like, and I know exactly when to say no and say yes. Because the hardest thing for me when I was No. 1 was to say no to people, and I felt like I needed to give people time because I'm here.

"You know, everyone wants a piece of me, and I think they deserve it. I think kind of giving too much of me out, I was kind of exhausted at the end of it and I didn't have enough time to, I guess, reflect on what I accomplished, but also give me time, myself time, to kind of relax and try and replace all the energy that expelled during the week or the year that I had.”

Day will begin his 8th PGA Championship from the 10th tee at 8.35am with Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson.


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