Day happy to re­ceive Tiger’s ad­vice

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - STEVE DOU­GLAS

SOUTH­PORT, ENG­LAND — Ja­son Day was late get­ting to the Bri­tish Open be­cause he didn’t want to deal with de­lays at JFK Air­port caused by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s at­ten­dance at the U.S. Women’s Open.

Just an­other holdup in a stop­start last 12 months for the Aus­tralian.

A com­bi­na­tion of be­ing bur­dened by his top-ranked sta­tus, the re­turn of back pain and a health scare in­volv­ing his mother has af­fected Day’s game. He hasn’t won a tour­na­ment since a wire-to-wire vic­tory at The Play­ers Cham­pi­onship in May 2016.

Back then, Day was No. 1 in the world by some dis­tance and on a run of seven wins in 10 months. Now, he is No. 6 and with his ca­reer at a stand­still.

“If you take my years 2015 and 2016, I hit it long and straight ... I hit my iron shots a lot closer and I holed ev­ery­thing on the greens,” Day said. “And this year it’s not as long, it’s not as straight. My iron shots aren’t as close, and I’m not hol­ing as many putts.

“So it’s a per­fect for­mula for not hav­ing a good year.”

Day said he ar­rived at Royal Birk­dale with few ex­pec­ta­tions about lift­ing the claret jug for a sec­ond ma­jor ti­tle, af­ter the PGA Cham­pi­onship in 2015. Af­ter three weeks off, he flew to Britain on Mon­day morn­ing in­stead of Sun­day, say­ing he moved his flight back be­cause “I was fly­ing through JFK and Pres­i­dent Trump was there and there was a bunch of de­lays.”

The pres­i­dent spent last week­end at the U.S. Women’s Open in Bed­min­ster, New Jer­sey.

It meant Day could spend an ex­tra day at home with his kids. Fam­ily has meant more than ever to him this year.

His mother was di­ag­nosed with lung can­cer at the start of the year and doc­tors in Aus­tralia of­fered a bleak out­look. A few months later, Day brought her to Ohio for more tests and she had the tu­mour re­moved. Day said Wednes­day she re­cently had fluid on the lungs, but that she is cur­rently feel­ing OK.

Day said there was a stretch this year where he didn’t even want to think about golf and would just sit around with his mother, who he used to see only once a year.

“Ob­vi­ously the time that I would be spend­ing work­ing and prac­tic­ing, it caught up to me and I hadn’t been play­ing as great as golf as I should have, but within rea­son,” he said.

“I needed to take that time off be­cause I thought I was los­ing my mom, and didn’t think she was go­ing to be around any­more. So I wanted to spend all the time with her I could.”

On the course, putting has been Day’s big­gest con­cern — he ranks 61st on the PGA Tour in strokes gained on the greens and has had prob­lems with his putting speed — and he is bring­ing some ad­vice from Tiger Woods to Birk­dale.

“It’s great to have a set of eyes like Tiger’s, es­pe­cially who’s one of the best clutch put­ters of all time, to be able to kind of see on TV what you’re do­ing wrong. So just try­ing to tidy up a lit­tle bit and hope­fully I putt a lit­tle bet­ter this week.”

Day re­called 2015 and miss­ing out on a play­off at the Bri­tish Open at St. An­drews by one stroke. He was tied for fourth, his only top-20 fin­ish in six ap­pear­ances at the oldest ma­jor.

That kick-started a tor­rid run of four vic­to­ries in six starts, in­clud­ing win­ning the PGA Cham­pi­onship at Whistling Straits on 20 un­der — at the time, the low­est score in re­la­tion to par at a ma­jor.

Get­ting back his No. 1 rank is his “ul­ti­mate goal.”

“I’ve just got to be pa­tient and just let things hap­pen,” he said. “Be­cause I hon­estly be­lieve good and big things are com­ing for me.”

STU­ART FRANKLIN, GETTY IM­AGES

The sil­hou­ette of fans watch­ing Ja­son Day of Aus­tralia are on dis­play in a prac­tice round prior to the 146th Open Cham­pi­onship at Royal Birk­dale.

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