World number one Jason Day will tee up at The Masters with a target on his back. In the last month he’s shown his rivals nothing but trail dust and back-to-back victories, so it’s no surprise they’ll be aiming to match him.
‘Coming off the form that I had in the second half of last year and then kind of, not so much rolling into, but picking it back up at Arnold Palmer Invitational then WGC-Dell Match Play, the current form, I feel good about my game. I feel comfortable with where I’m at, walking around the grounds, number one in the world; it’s a good feeling,’ said Day.
The Australian’s extremely high ball flight and length off the tee are backed up by his short game, which is part of the reason he’s summited the world ranking. The other side of the equation is his incredible focus, which he applies through a meticulous pre-shot routine.
He has a solid track record at the year’s first major that includes top-threes in 2011 and 2013. Last year he tied for 28th place before finishing ninth at the US Open, fourth at The Open, and victorious at the PGA Championship.
‘My first year at The Masters (2011) I finished second, and 2013, finished third. I feel comfortable around this course. I know it sets up well for me. It’s a golf course that I can compete and play well and win. 12‑ to 13‑under usually is the average winning score around here. I probably wouldn’t look much past that,’ he said.
Health issues will be the outside factor for Day, who withdrew from The Masters in 2012. This week at Augusta is part of a long spell of tournaments and there has been little rest time for the 28-year-old.
‘It’s nothing new,’ he said. ‘It’s the same old bulged disc that I’ve always had, but every now and then, it flares up and you just can’t do anything about it. I’ve just got to keep on top of what I need to do to keep myself strong and fit and ready to go play tournaments, and then hopefully over time, strengthening it each and every year. If I maintain that, then slowly it will go away, which it can.’
This year Day tees up as the tournament favourite. He’s already won a major and tops the world ranking, so he has less to prove.
‘I feel like early in my career I couldn’t really handle the pressure of big moments, especially in 2013 (at The Masters) when I kind of gassed it coming in and didn’t play that well. I had the opportunity to win, but yeah, with what I’ve done the last year and a half, I feel like I’m preparing myself for a good Sunday here and a good final nine hopefully,’ he said.
The Australian appears ready for an Augusta triumph, but he’s taking nothing for granted.
‘It’s such a competitive sport now and so many guys can win, and it’s so tough to win. But I do feel good with how I’m playing right now and where I’m at mentally and physically,’ he concluded.