Day's goal still the same: Being world No. 1

By Doug FergusonJanuary 9, 2015, 2:22 pm

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Jason Day had all the trappings of a rising star when he made it to the PGA Tour as a 19-year-old with loads of power and no fear. Tiger Woods was at his peak, and the Australian teenager didn't hide his desire to one day replace him at No. 1 in the world.

That was eight years ago.

Woods is returning from another season interrupted by injury and has slipped to No. 34 in the world. Rory McIlroy is at the top of the world ranking, not nearly by the same margin that Woods once enjoyed, but enough that Day said he would fit the mold as a dominant player that comes around once every 20 years.

The target hasn't changed. Only the name.

''It's not so much I'm trying to get a rivalry out of these guys,'' Day said Thursday. ''I want the No. 1 spot. And the only way for me to get the No. 1 spot is to win. Unfortunately for me, I've only won twice. But I still feel like I'm young in my career. I'm 27. This is my eighth season on Tour. Back in the day, they used to say young guys were in their 30s. Now it's in your 20s, which is true.

''But my goal is to get to the No. 1 spot, and I know I can only do that if I win, and win consistently.''

It helps that he at least is in Kapalua, where the 34-man field of PGA Tour winners from 2014 tee off Friday in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Day is playing for only the second time, and it seems as though he should be a veteran of the Plantation Course by now.


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Seven years have produced more injuries their trophies.

Last year was no exception. Even as Day was rolling to victory in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, he was coping with a thumb injury that forced him to miss every tournament but the Masters over the next three months.

His back still flares up occasionally. He also has dealt with wrist injuries.

So there's an additional goal this year – staying healthy. Day has put in the work on the gym and believes he can make it through the year in good shape. And he thinks if that happens, he can make strides toward the goal he has been talking about since he first came on Tour.

He twice has given himself good looks at winning a major – the Masters in 2011 when Charl Schwartzel birdies his last four holes to win by two, and the U.S. Open at Merion in 2013 when Justin Rose was rock solid at the end of his round to win by two.

Equally important is keeping his brain healthy.

The guy that Day stopped just short of calling out when he joined the PGA Tour – Woods – has turned into a confidante of sorts. They played together during the opening round of the Hero World Challenge last month, and Woods usually has a hand in the pairings. Day said he stays in touch with Woods through text and phone calls.

''I pick his brain about stuff,'' Day said. ''If you pick a guy's brain, pick the best.''

Woods was the player he wanted to emulate when he first took to golf in Australia, and now one aspect of the game Day is trying to figure out is his comfort zone. He has noticed some players who are driven by high energy and emotion, and others who are at their best when they keep cool.

Day figures he is somewhere in between.

''I remember talking to Tiger about being comfortable,'' he said. ''I've got to try to find that sweet spot and stick to that. I'm the guy who can't get too high or too low, to enjoy myself but stay right in the middle. When you're out there on the 16th hole at Augusta, it's hard to keep yourself down. That's what happened to me when I had the lead on the 16th tee. I had so many emotions going through my body that it sucked me out.

''It's something we have to learn and experience.''

Day (No. 8) is one of two players from the top 10 in the world at the first PGA Tour event of the year. The other is Masters champion Bubba Watson. Three others from the top 10 – McIlroy, Rose and Adam Scott – are not playing this week.

It's a great chance to get the year off to a great start. The Tournament of Champions is the hardest event to get in, though it might be the easiest to win. It's a short field with only 34 players. Twelve of them have never seen the terrain of Kapalua, and some players are still shaking off the winter rust.

Day's coach and caddie, Colin Swatton, was at Kapalua five days early to map out the course and the greens that can be so difficult to read. In his debut four years ago, Day made a reasonable debut with a tie for ninth.

''I feel this year is going to be a good year, as long as I stay healthy and as long as I've the will to improve,'' he said.

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x