Day calls PGA loss a chance to grow

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

WORLD num­ber one Ja­son Day is count­ing on the lessons learned from another near miss at a ma­jor cham­pi­onship to pay off with the tough­ness to win other ma­jors later.

The 28-year-old Aus­tralian de­fend­ing cham­pion set­tled for sec­ond on July 31 at the PGA Cham­pi­onship, one stroke be­hind US first-time ma­jor cham­pion Jimmy Walker after a gru­elling 36-hole marathon day to con­clude a drain­ing three-week span.

“It’s just great to be in the po­si­tion to be in con­tention and give this ti­tle de­fence a re­ally good shot at win­ning it again,” Day said. “It would have been nice to re­peat.”

Day has 13 top-10 fin­ishes in 25 ma­jor starts, his lone tri­umph com­ing in last year’s PGA at Whistling Straits. Six other top-four show­ings ended in de­feat but Day said the key to im­prove­ment, and win­ning ma­jors, is putting him­self in the hunt over and over again.

“You can learn the most when you’re in this po­si­tion,” he said. “This is how you grow as a player and as a per­son and get bet­ter. And hope­fully that yields more ma­jor cham­pi­onship wins in the fu­ture.”

Day, Walker and eight other con­tenders were forced to play 36 holes on the Cham­pi­onship’s fi­nal day after they were un­able to start on July 30 be­fore play was halted by thun­der­storms.

“On days like this, you’ve just got to keep push­ing your­self harder than any­one else, men­tally more so than phys­i­cally,” Day said. “It’s tough, it’s gru­elling, and it’s more men­tally painful to go through days like this, just be­cause you get to a cer­tain point and that bar­rier, you’ll be sit­ting there and go­ing, ‘I just don’t know if I can push on any more.’”

Day pushed him­self and Walker to the limit, with a 74-foot birdie putt in the third round topped by an ea­gle on his 72nd hole keep­ing the Amer­i­can’s vic­tory in doubt un­til the fi­nal putt.

“It’s re­ally quite fun to see how far you can ac­tu­ally push your­self men­tally,” Day said. “Play­ing 36 holes to­day, es­pe­cially un­der the pump, not know­ing what was go­ing on re­ally, and fin­ish­ing that way was pretty spe­cial.”

Day has learned that if he is stressed out, his ri­vals are too.

“If I’m feel­ing pres­sure, that means he’s feel­ing pres­sure,” Day said. “No mat­ter how calm you look on the out­side, you’re al­ways stress­ing and try­ing to get through it.

“I’m al­ways stress­ing out. I’m over shots like, ‘OK, this is so hard.’ I know if I’m feel­ing that, ev­ery­one else is feel­ing it.”

Day smacked two 2-iron shots to set up his 14-foot ea­gle putt at the par-5 18th.

“The 2-iron into the green was prob­a­bly one of the best 2-irons I’ve ever hit into a par-5, es­pe­cially un­der the cir­cum­stances,” Day said.

“Emil­iano [Grillo, his play­ing part­ner] came up to me and said the ball was scared of me when I hit it.”

Con­sid­er­ing Day fought fa­tigue and ill­ness all week, rested through the first two prac­tice rounds, and played his first round ever at Bal­tus­rol on the eve of the event, he did pretty well.

“A lit­tle dis­ap­pointed, but I came in here with not the great­est prepa­ra­tion. I’m very happy with how I played all week,” Day said.

“I was just try­ing to give my­self op­por­tu­ni­ties and I un­for­tu­nately just didn’t hit them. I gave my­self op­por­tu­ni­ties, but I just didn’t hit them close enough.” –

Photo: AFP

Ja­son Day of Aus­tralia tosses his club on the 14th hole dur­ing the fi­nal round of the 2016 PGA Cham­pi­onship at Bal­tus­rol Golf Club on July 31.

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