06 Apr 2023 | Professional golf |
Day plots path to green jacket
by Dane Heverin
A resurgent Jason Day has outlined how he will tackle Augusta National’s adjusted layout in his bid to become the second Australian to win the Masters and don the green jacket.
The 35-year-old has enjoyed a return to form as he has made the top 20 in each of his seven starts on the PGA Tour this year and his world ranking has jumped from 175 in October to 35 at present.
Day insists there is still work to be done to limit his extensive swing thoughts – he remodelled his swing in recent years to ease pressure on his back - but he is banking on his mental resilience and experience to push himself into contention this week.
“I know that it's a second-shot golf course, and if you're able to control your irons into the greens, it definitely makes things so much easier,” Day said.
“Like 11, for instance. If you can hit that green four times in a row, you're laughing, and you can play it even par; you miss it right, you're pretty much dead. I mean, you don't want to miss it left either.
“I would say that I'm a little bit shorter, so I'm going to be less aggressive this year, just because I hit a fade with my driver, so I'm not going to attack 13.
“15 can be difficult. So, I'm going to lay up there. The only ones that I'm probably going to attack are two and eight.
“I think the average score is 12-under here, something like that, so I just have to pick-and-choose my way around. You have to be very patient around this golf course. You can't force anything here.”
The former world No.1 missed last year’s Masters due to his rankings slip and his five year exemption for winning the US PGA Championship in 2015 having lapsed, but he possesses an impressive record at Augusta National.
His best finish was a runner-up result on debut in 2011, and he boasts three other top 10s including in 2013 when he held the lead with three holes to play before compatriot Adam Scott broke Australia’s drought.
“It would have been nice if I won,” Day said with a laugh.
“But no, it was nice to be able to see Scotty win. He was my favourite player growing up, outside of Tiger Woods. We’d been close with Norman, and there's a few other guys in there that have been close to trying to win this tournament, and no one had ever won the Masters from Australia.
“I think that was a good thing because now I don't have to worry about it. We can just go out and play now.
“I can't believe it's gone that quick, for it to be ten years. I remember sitting in the clubhouse watching the playoff, and it just seems like yesterday I was sitting there watching the playoff. I remember saying to myself, man, I'm so disappointed that I wasn't able to either finish it or get in that playoff.
“But it was bittersweet because you're seeing Scotty play, and then you watch him hit that putt in, and then the emotions that came out of him were so raw and fantastic, and to be able to watch live on TV, it just makes you want to feel that as well.”
Day has spoken previously about his belief that he can return to being world No.1 again and a second career major victory would be an important step in that journey.
Nevertheless, despite the hardships presented by the loss of his mother and his countless injury setbacks, Day is relishing the opportunities the current phase of his career has presented.
But he is not making any proclamations about his fortunes this week.
“To be able to go through this and try and, I guess, reinvent yourself is unique, and I've enjoyed that thoroughly,” Day said.
“We'll see how it goes. I'll talk to you Sunday, and I'll be able to tell if I did a good job or a bad job.”
Round one tee times – Thursday night and Friday morning AEST
11pm Min Woo Lee, Harrison Crowe (a), Larry Mize
12.30am Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Kurt Kitayama
12.54am Cameron Smith, Hideki Matsuyama, Sungjae Im
2.48am Jason Day, Zach Johnson, Gordon Sargent
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