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August 12, 2015

Jason Day

Kohler, Wisconsin, USA

JOHN DEVER: Good morning, everyone, welcome back to the 97th PGA Championship here at Whistling Straits. Thank you ahead of time to Mr. Jason Day for spending some time here with us. Jason, welcome to your 6th PGA Championship. You've obviously been playing very consistently well all summer. Is it safe to say you're locked in right now?

JASON DAY: I feel like it's been a pretty good year for me so far, but golf wise it's been great. But the health is another story. Just seems like every year something pops up and I have to take at least one to two, even more, tournaments off. But I feel good about how I've prepared this year for golf tournaments. How motivated I am to try and achieve the goals, life-long goals, as well. And right now I'm just mentally in a good spot. It's really difficult to sometimes balance that. It's difficult to really try and find that balance of playing competitive golf at the highest level, while also trying to stay mentally sharp and physically fresh, but also still have a personal life and family life as well. So overall I feel good.

JOHN DEVER: Going back to 2010, you played quite well, tied for 10th. And it was really the first time in your career that you made a push at a Major. What might you have learned with yourself that week?

JASON DAY: Well, I was right around the lead going on to the 9th tee. I was playing with Martin Kaymer and I caught a flier over the back and ended up making double on 9. And that kind of derailed my back side.

I think the interesting thing was I really learned a lot of what Martin did that day. The patience that he had, even though he quite wasn't driving the ball that great, I know the left-to-right winds were very tough for him and he hit three drives that kind of sliced out down close to the beach and somehow got it up near the green and saved himself.

But it was just all about the patience that he had within himself to stay focused on what he needed to do to get to 18 and get to the playoff. The putt he holed on 18 was phenomenal. And it was just really a good experience just kind of seeing how it's done, how it is to win a Major Championship.

So I took a lot of that experience and kind of went forward with it and it took me awhile but I'm slowly learning how to stay a lot more patient within myself.

JOHN DEVER: Questions?

Q. Six Top-5s since 2011, can you just put into words how hard it is to win a Major Championship these days?
JASON DAY: Yeah, I mean it's -- I think I was talking to Ben Everill about it and back when Geoff Ogilvy was number three in the world, Tiger was 20 points in the World Ranking I think the next best was 10 points and then he was number three at 5 something. You look at the World Rankings now, it's so stacked, I mean obviously one and two are ahead, three is a little bit ahead with Bubba and then the rest of the guys are seven, six, six, six, six, all the way down. It's just very, very difficult.

So, that just shows tough the competition has gotten over the years. Then on top of it, it's very difficult to try and close on a Sunday at a Major Championship, but I think the more times that I keep putting myself there, the more opportunities that I give myself, sooner or later it's going to happen. I know that. I've just got to keep doing the things that I'm doing right now on and off the golf course that is preparing me to be in a position like that. Unfortunately, sometimes people make it look easier than others. Some people get there quicker than others. For me it's more of a learning time for me right now and hopefully it's kind of building on something big in the future where I can actually feel a lot more comfortable in a position where I can just go out and attack it a lot easier.

With that said, it's just -- we have the best players in the world playing against each other and we're humans. We're not machines out there. It's very difficult, it's very easy to make poor choices and have bad swings every now and then. But we got so blessed with Tiger and Rory and Jordan, just recently, that winning looks so easy. And I'm not saying it's difficult for me, but it's something that I'm trying to learn and get better at. And that's what I'm trying to do is I'm just really trying to improve on becoming a better player each and every week.

Q. As it applies to Rory coming back this week from an injury, as a guy who's been through his share of injuries, how hard is it to fight that urge to come back early?
JASON DAY: It's difficult, because unfortunately physically okay, but for him, I don't know what the extent of his injury was, but for me my thumb injury last year I felt fine, I could do everything fine, but I just couldn't grip a golf club. That was the toughest part, because I felt physically healthy. I felt strong. And the tough part was trying to get back on to the golf course healthy enough to be able to grip the club.

For Rory, I think the biggest issue for him is that it's tough, especially he's so young and healthy that he that he's going to come back strong, but I just get worried sometimes when people get injured and come back a little early because sometimes it can snowball and go other places and it may start in an ankle, it could go to a knee, or could go to a hip, it could go to the back, there's just a number of things that can possibly go wrong, because if you come back a little earlier and the movement patterns are different, you are moving differently compared to what you used to, it changes your swing just a little bit, it could snowball into something else and start hurting another part of your body.

So it's good to see that he's swinging well. It's good that he's back. Obviously, golf needs him like we need Tiger and Jordan and all that stuff. But biggest thing is for him to try and stay healthy. It's hard to -- I hear people kind of getting frustrated that he shouldn't be playing soccer but he's got to live a life. He's got to -- golf is one part of his life and he's got friends and family outside that he wants to enjoy. But, yeah, that's the biggest worry for me is sometimes it can kind of snowball into other parts of your body.

Q. The way you toughed it out and grinded at Chambers Bay, is that a real point of pride or do you not want to look back on that experience, because I assume it was pretty miserable.
JASON DAY: It was something that I knew that it wasn't going to hurt me anymore. It wasn't going to damage anything else. Vertigo is vertigo. It's just -- it's tough.

But I learned a lot about how far I could really push myself mentally and physically, even though I felt like I was going to pull out three times that day on Saturday and I didn't feel too flush on Sunday. But I ask everyone all the time, if you had the opportunity to win a U.S. Open, would you do the same? And everyone kind of says, yeah, I would do the same. It's just a matter of how much do you want it. And I really want it. I mean I'm willing to put my body on the line and stuff like that, just to get a taste of that greatness.

But looking back on it now, if it was any other tournament, I'm not sure if I would have played. But since it was a Major Championship and I was close to the lead, I had to really try and push myself to get through it and really see how it went. I was just counting down the holes to really kind of get myself through it. It was tough. But after it, I felt like it was a real kind of growing moment for me because every now and then we get to a point in our games where it's okay to just go, okay, it's all right, I can just hit it in the middle of the green. Or I don't really need to hole this putt. That's the times when you go, no, I want to make sure I hit my targets. I want to make sure I get on the greens and try and hole every putt. Because the moment you start getting okay with hitting greens and making 2-putts, that's the moment when you start going backwards.

So, it was good for me to understand how far I could really push myself and really understand that it's okay to go out there and just keep battling and really try and take hold of that win.

I didn't end up winning, but I learned a lot.

Q. I'm going to take you back five years. If I said to you before at this Major five years ago that in five years time you can be exactly where you are now with all your great finishes or whatever or you can have one Major and no other top-10s in Majors, where would you have liked it?
JASON DAY: I would still take this -- I would still take what I have right now. It's just that for me personally I think I know that as long as I keep doing the things I'm doing it's going to happen. I just got to keep working hard and stay motivated and stay fit.

I think it's good to be consistent, because every once in awhile you can strike lightning in a bottle. And I don't want to be that one hit wonder and just kind of go off in the distance. So, I want to be a dominant player and I want to be able to, in big tournaments like this, be able to close and win, not only one Major but more consecutive Majors, two, three, four, I don't know how many Majors, but I just want to win as many as I can. So, I definitely would take the more consistent route, rather than just the one Major.

Q. On the same token, if I told you five years ago that you would be exactly where you are today, would you have believed it? Did you think you were on that path five years ago?
JASON DAY: I didn't -- I didn't have the belief at that time. And it's taken time -- it takes time, especially in golf, because it's such an individual sport where you can be the most confident player in the world and then turn around and have no confidence within a week. At that time, I was really fighting myself, really trying to believe that I was a good player and I could get to where I am today.

But growing up as a junior and an amateur in Australia, I was one of the best always. And coming over here, you're not the best anymore, you're a small fish in a big pond and that's how it works when you turn professional.

I'm glad it happened that way, because it made me work harder. It got me a lot more disciplined in a way and all these things that happened, not having the self belief, getting injured a lot, all this stuff is good experience for me. I can't look at it as a negative, because I wouldn't have changed the things to get better. I wouldn't have changed -- I wouldn't have had Cornell as my strength and conditioning coach, to really push myself to get better with my body and try and prevent more injuries.

I wouldn't have improved my mental state on the golf course and really take myself to where I was at the 2010 PGA to where I am now at the 2015 PGA. I've come a long way and people want it really quick and people expect it really quick, but over time, golf is a very long career. You can be out here for 20, 30 years, if you really want to. So, it's the steady incline, incremental improvement over the years that gets you from point A to hopefully point B, which is way up top of the world rankings and multiple Major Championships. And you can't expect everything so quickly, even though deep down inside you want it to happen, but you just got to be patient with your self and let it happen.

Q. You have been placing second in Masters and U.S. Opens multiple times and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan has placed in fifth in Masters and he's also trying to win a Major. What do you think is his best strengths?
JASON DAY: Hideki is a fantastic ball-striker. I've got to know him very well over the last few years and we have become very close friends. We trade texted messages every now and then. And he's just a wonderful person to be around with. And even his caddie, Daisuke, his whole team, Mit and Bob, his translator, they're a fantastic team, very close knit team, which is good. That's what kind of reminds me of myself a little bit.

For him to have a close team like that is very good for him. Not only for his golf, but for his mental side as well, just to understand that there's no one that's going to tell him yes to everything. He's going to understand when he's doing something bad and when he's doing something good. And he's a fantastic ball-striker from tee to green. Once he improves his short game a little bit, he's going to be a very dominating force, especially coming out of Japan. It's amazing to see how much he's improved over the years, especially since winning the Memorial and since then he's just starting to kind of blossom into a really solid player and a Top-50, if not Top-10 pretty soon player in the world.

Q. Returning to this theme about winning. It seems that the players talk about discovering the success, some kind of secret. I think it was Jordan who said in Australia last year when he won that he learned something there, in the process, something about how you win. And I wonder if you learned anything when you left St. Andrews and went over to Canada and won. And if there was something in that process that you discovered that might help you going forward.
JASON DAY: The last round of the British Open, or the Open Championship, I felt different. And I don't know what changed, but I felt a lot more calm. Everything was kind of slow paced. Everything felt like a Thursday, rather than it was a Sunday of a Major Championship. And with everything that happened that day on Sunday, I mean I played phenomenal golf at the Open Championship. I had three bogeys and they were all in the second round. So those three rounds there where I played bogey-free and knowing that I was having really good form going into Canada, with a short week, because we finished Monday at the Open Championship, I knew that it was going to be difficult, just with going back from Scotland back to Canada, Toronto and time difference was going to be hard. The rest was the most important for me.

But I think just the process of everything, really understanding that all the little things, getting the finer details right and correct and really understanding, communicating well with my caddie, Col, I think that's the biggest thing is really kind of understanding that communication between a player and a caddie is huge. A lot of people out there especially the fans don't really understand how important a really good caddie is to a player. And to have Col as a caddie knowing that he's done every bit of information and knows every bit of information about the golf course, that puts my mind at ease, knowing that there's not going to be anything that's going to pop up and kind of catch me by surprise.

So, once we get the finer details correct it's just all about going in and executing the shots. After that it's just all about the confidence you have. We consider and talk about how hard people work and stuff like that, but if the last bit of the puzzle is all up here (Indicating) having the belief and confidence that you can do the stuff that other guys do on Sundays. I mean, that's really inside your head. And it's just amazing how the more and more I stay out here over the years, the more it's all about the head, rather than the whole game itself.

Q. As somebody who's been in contention so often in the Major, can you just kind of assess or sum up how impressive Jordan Spieth's season has been and just what he's done this year?
JASON DAY: Jordan -- obviously you talked about it before at the Australian Open, where he won that, and then he came over and won at the Hero and in dominating fashion. It's just -- what he did at Augusta was just phenomenal. It's something that you want to do as well, but there's only a certain few people that can do that. It's pretty impressive at such a young age how mature he is. How far he's come. Because I remember playing against him in 2010 when I won the Byron Nelson and I think he was 16 at the time and he had just -- he had so much potential, so much game at that point to be a TOUR player at that age at 16.

Now he's 21 or 22, with the amazing year that he's had already, I mean it's tough to win, but to be able to do it like that and dominate and have 13 or 14 Top-10 finishes, right now his confidence is through the moon. Whatever he's doing right now, he needs to just kind of bottle it all up and know that this is a winning formula for him and never go away from it. Because what he's doing right now is working and if he stops that, then hopefully it will bring us into contention a lot more.

Q. You stressed the mental game again and again. But you've been out on this course. How much of a factor do you think Whistling Straits itself will play this week?
JASON DAY: Yeah, I mean, it's a long golf course. With the changes that we have had, there's some subtle change, but the whole golf course itself is still routed the same way. A few different looks off the tees, a few different greens.

It's going to be an interesting PGA Championship with what we had last time we were here with Dustin and all that stuff, but it's not just the mental side as well that you have to have, it's everything. You have to drive the ball well here, because there's some spots on the golf course, if you -- I might try to hit it 30 yards off line than hit it a yard off line because you're chipping out because the rough is so thick.

So you got to be driving the ball well here. And from there placement on the greens is huge, making sure that you're on the right quadrant and you are giving yourself a chance at birdie. Right now it's soft, I don't know how it will go with the rest of the week. I know that we're going to get some weather coming in, maybe possibly Friday, so that could still possibly soften the course up, which will make it just longer than what it is right now.

So, right now, I'm looking at it going, it's definitely helping if you're a bomber of the golf ball and it definitely helps if you're a longer hitter. But then again I mean the shorter players have won here. So, right now my prep feels good, I feel good about the golf course, I played well here before, and I just got to keep working at it and go out there and just try and execute and try and be the last guy standing.

JOHN DEVER: Jason Day, many thanks. Continued good health. Thank you.

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