World number one Jason Day will tee it up at The Players Championship after a one-week break from competitive golf. The Australian shared fifth at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans a fortnight ago, marking his eighth top-25 result in nine starts on the PGA Tour this season.
Last year at TPC Sawgrass he shot a forgettable 81 in the second round and missed the cut, but he has top-20s from two previous starts at The Players. The who’s who of golf will tee up this week and Day, ranked second in strokes gained: putting, will look to retain his position at the summit of the world ranking.
‘It definitely feels different now that I’m number one (in the world). I haven’t had the greatest finishes here at The Players Championship, but I feel a lot more prepared this year than I have before in my career. I feel good about my game and I’m looking forward to the challenge of this week,’ he said.
‘This tournament is the toughest field we have all year. It’s getting bigger every time we come back. You really do want to win and have it on your resume at the end of your career,’ he added.
The 28-year-old showed signs of fatigue a few weeks back at the RBC Heritage, where Branden Grace took his maiden PGA Tour win. Day will be fresh and ready to play in Ponte Vedra Beach this week after skipping Quail Hollow.
The Queensland local won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the WGC-Dell Match Play in March this year. A third title is on offer this week, but he’ll need to keep his ball in play and rely more on his short game to outclass the world’s best.
‘This is a difficult golf course. I have to weigh up between hitting two-iron or three-wood off the tee in a lot of places. I’ll be about three clubs shorter with the iron, but if you miss it into the rough here it gets very difficult to hold the greens with your approaches,’ he said.
The famed 17th with its island green is the signature of TPC Sawgrass and last year Rickie Fowler made birdie there three times on Sunday to win a playoff with Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner.
Day may be among the favourites, but he is aware what Sawgrass has in waiting. The spotlight will be on him from the get-go, while his pairing with Jordan Spieth and Branden Grace is sure to attract the media and crowds.