02 May 2024 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: Day ready to defend at CJ CUP Byron Nelson

by Tony Webeck

Jason Day signs autographs CJ CUP Byron Nelson
Jason Day signs autographs ahead of his CJ CUP Byron Nelson title defence. Photo: Tim Heitman/Getty Images

Australian Jason Day has credited a shift in mindset for his career resurgence as he prepares to defend his CJ Cup Byron Nelson crown at TPC Craig Ranch in Texas.

It had been five years between Day’s 12th and 13th PGA TOUR career victories and the circumstances were a mix of planets aligning and the golf gods rewarding persistence.

As his caddie wore the name of Day’s late mother on his bib and the final round falling on Mother’s Day, Day held off a fast-finishing Si Woo Kim (63) with a round of 9-under 62 to fast-track his climb up the world rankings.

Twelve months on he is Australia’s No.1-ranked male player, looks set to become an Olympian for the first time at Paris in August and will return to the International team for the Presidents Cup for the first time since 2017.

After years of juggling family life and the struggles through persistent back injuries, Day said that it was a switch in mentality that provided the path forward.

“Playing from more of a position of like love and passion of the game is I think far healthier to play from than having a chip on your shoulder,” Day reflected.

“It’s easy to find motivation when you have a chip on your shoulder because people are talking against you and all that stuff.

“Certain players play well with that, but I feel like that’s a limited period of time where that can happen.”

No one, according to Day, reflects the power of that mindset better than world No.1 Scottie Scheffler.

The winner of four of his past five tournaments – including a second Masters title – Scheffler is not in the field this week as he and wife Meredith await the birth of their first child.

For Day, seeing the apparent ease in which Scheffler is dominating world golf is a reminder of the power of positive thinking.

“There are guys that play from a good position of balance and love,” Day added.

“Looking at Scottie Scheffler right now, he is playing some of the best golf we’ve seen in a long time, probably since the Tiger (Woods) days. He seems like a very well-balanced person.

“It’s very difficult to do. For me personally, I’m just trying to find that balance in amongst professional life and personal life, business and everything this comes along with being a professional golfer.”

And, as a father of five himself, what advice did Day offer Scheffler for the juggle he is about to begin?

“He’s going to have to adjust a little bit. It took me a year to really adjust to being a father,” Day conceded.

“I could not find my identity in being a father because of how selfish this game can be.

“Once I found that out and I could understand it a little bit more, that’s when I started becoming a better father.

“This is going to be a whole new world that’s going to open up.

“It’s going to be for the better.”

Day is one of five Aussies in the field at the Byron Nelson, a tournament Aussies have enjoyed success in dating all the way back to Peter Thomson in 1956, Thomson’s lone PGA TOUR victory in the US.

Northern Territory golfer George Worrall played his way into this week’s Volvo China Open on the DP World Tour via a two-round pre-qualifying tournament, the tournament making its return to the schedule for the first time since COVID-19.

There are 12 Aussies in Korea for the Asian Tour co-sanctioned GS Caltex Maekyung Open and the Cameron Smith-led Ripper GC team will be gunning for back-to-back team wins at LIV Golf Singapore.

There are five Aussies in the field for the Insperity Invitational on the PGA TOUR Champions and Scott Hend and Peter Fowler join Kiwis Michael Campbell and Michael Long for the first Legends Tour event of the season in Barbados.

Photo: Tim Heitman/Getty Images

Round 1 tee times AEST

PGA TOUR THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson TPC Craig Ranch, McKinney, Texas 10:45pm* Jason Day 10:56pm Aaron Baddeley 3:55am Adam Scott 4:06am Min Woo Lee 4:39am Ryan Fox (NZ) 4:39am* Harrison Endycott

Defending champion: Jason Day Past Aussie winners: Peter Thomson (1956), Bruce Devlin (1969), Adam Scott (2008), Steven Bowditch (2015), Jason Day (2023) Prize money: $US9.5 million TV times: Live 9:45pm-9am Thursday, Friday; Live 11pm-8am Saturday; Live 10:30pm-8am Sunday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

DP World Tour Volvo China Open Hidden Grace GC, Shenzhen, China 10:20am* Daniel Hillier (NZ) 1:40pm* Kieran Muir (NZ) 2:30pm* Jason Scrivener 3:40pm* George Worrall

Defending champion: Mikko Korhonen (2019) Past Aussie winners: Scott Strange (2009), Brett Rumford (2013) Prize money: $US2.25 million TV times: Live 3pm-8pm Thursday, Friday; Live 3:30pm-8pm Saturday; Live 2pm-7pm Sunday on Fox Sports 503 and Kayo.

Asian Tour GS Caltex Maekyung Open Namseoul Country Club, Korea 7:41am Brendan Jones 8:03am Deyen Lawson 8:03am* Kevin Yuan 8:36am Jack Thompson 8:36am* Won Joon Lee 8:58am Justin Warren 9:09am* Kevin Chun (NZ) 9:31am Junseok Lee 1:03pm* Jed Morgan 1:14pm Travis Smyth 1:14pm* Andrew Dodt 1:58pm Zach Murray 2:31pm* Todd Sinnott

Defending champion: Jung Chan-min Past Aussie winners: Mike Clayton (1984) Prize money: KRW1,300,000,000 TV times: Live 2pm-6pm Thursday, Friday; Live 1pm-4:30pm Saturday on Fox Sports 505; Live 1pm-5pm Sunday on Fox Sports 507 and Kayo.

LIV Golf LIV Golf Singapore Australasians in the field: Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman, Matt Jones, Lucas Herbert, Danny Lee (NZ)

Defending champion: Talor Gooch Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US20 million TV times: Live from 11:15am Friday, Saturday, Sunday on 7 Plus.

Japan Golf Tour Chunichi Crowns Nagoya Golf Club (Wago Cse), Aichi 8:30am Anthony Quayle 12:30pm Brad Kennedy 1:10pm* Michael Hendry (NZ)

Defending champion: Hiroshi Iwata Past Aussie winners: David Graham (1976), Graham Marsh (1977, 1981), Greg Norman (1989), Peter Senior (1993), Roger Mackay (1994), Brendan Jones (2011) Prize money: ¥110,000,000

PGA TOUR Champions Insperity Invitational The Woodlands CC, The Woodlands, Texas 1:20am Steven Alker (NZ) 1:52am* Richard Green 2:23am Mark Hensby, Rod Pampling 2:44am* John Senden 2:55am* Stuart Appleby

Defending champion: Steven Alker Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US2.7 million TV times: Live 2:30am-5am Saturday; Live 5am-8am Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 505 and Kayo.

Legends Tour Barbados Legends hosted by Ian Woosnam Apes Hill Barbados, Saint James Australasians in the field: Michael Campbell (NZ), Michael Long (NZ), Scott Hend, Peter Fowler

Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil

Epson Tour Casino Del Sol Golf Classic Sewailo Golf Club, Tucson, Arizona 12:44am Cassie Porter 1:50am Su Oh 5:56am* Fiona Xu (NZ) 6:40am* Amelia Garvey (NZ)

Defending champion: Gigi Stoll Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US250,000

PGA TOUR Americas KIA Open Quito Tenis Y Golf Club, Quito, Ecuador 10:50pm Jason Hong 2:50am Harry Hillier (NZ) 3:30am* Charlie Hillier (NZ)

Defending champion: Toni Hakula Past Aussie winners: Nil Prize money: $US225,000

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