HE’LL be sporting a new sponsor’s logo and a new golf swing but the goals remain the same for Jason Day as he prepares to start his 2017 campaign in Hawaii this week.
The World Number One comes to the Tournament of Champions confident having recovered from a back injury that saw his 2016 prematurely curtailed in September.
Day, a three time winner last year, joins 31 other golfers in the event reserved for those who have won tournaments the previous season, three of those being fellow Australians Rod Pampling, Greg Chalmers and Aaron Baddeley.
Adam Scott, a two-time winner in 2016, has elected to skip the tournament.
Day will be under the microscope at The Plantation Course at Kapalua after a disappointing end to 2016 thanks to an ongoing back injury.
He withdrew from both the BMW Championship and TOUR Championship during September’s FedEx Cup playoffs and also missed a planned trip to Australia to play both the Australian Open and World Cup of Golf.
TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS PREVIEW:
The 29-year-old says while he is now pain free, he continues to take steps to manage the issue including a concerted effort to try to shorten his golf swing.
“Over the last week, week and a half, two weeks, I've been trying to really shorten it out,” he told reporters at his pre-tournament press conference.
“If you don't turn as much, you'll hit the wall and you'll stop and it will be a shorter swing. It will be more compact.
“It will be a lot tighter and that hopefully will take a lot more pressure off my back. just trying to work on it just technically on the range.”
A refreshed Day said he had picked up a club only twice during his three month lay-off and while there was some rust in his game during early practice sessions last week he is ready to get back to work this week.
His goal remains holding on to the World Number One ranking and he knows the only way to do that is to continue playing his best golf.
“If Dustin plays well this week and wins, and I don't know what the projections are, if he takes over or not, but I can't let that happen,” he said of nearest rival Dustin Johnson.
“I don't want that to happen. So I've got to make sure that I try and stay on top of it and stay ahead, and do as much as I possibly can before the event, and obviously going into it, executing.
“It's great that I went, however many weeks from the middle of last year to keeping the Number One through the whole year. But you know, the goal is - you've got to shoot for something bigger.
“When you reach a goal, you have got to reevaluate things and try and shoot for something a lot tougher, because if your goal is to stay Number One then, you know, that's great.
“But you know, you've got to go, okay, how many weeks can I stay there; or I'm going to try and beat it the next time.”
Known as one of the game's most deliberate players Day caused some controversy when he also said he intended to abandon an attempt to play the game more quickly, a move he felt was costly in the 2016 season.
"Obviously everyone wants to speed up the game. Obviously that's a big subject in golf, to speed up the game," he said.
"In my opinion, I don't care so much about speeding up my game. I've got to get back to what makes me good. If that means I have to back off five times, then I'm going to back off five times before I have to actually hit the shot.
"Because for recreational golf, I understand. But for golfers that are trying to win and that one shot that could take you out of a playoff, that's important, and you need to make sure that you get everything correct."
Day’s previous best finish at the Tournament of Champions was T3 in 2015 when a blistering final round 62 jumped him from mid-field to top five.
This year marks his fourth time playing the event, one he says he would happily come back to every year.
“This is always a great place to start, and if I could guarantee a spot here every single year, I'd come back every single year because I just love it here,” he said.
Day tees off alongside World Number Eight Patrick Reed in Thursday’s opening round while defending champion Jordan Spieth will accompany Dustin Johnson.
Greg Chalmers and Aaron Baddeley form an all Australian group while Rod Pampling is out in the second group of the day with American Pat Perez.
RISING AUSTRALIAN STAR CAM SMITH TALKS LIFE ON THE PGA TOUR: