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September 21, 2016
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Jason Day to the interview room here at TOUR Championship. Jason, another remarkable season heading into the finale of the FedExCup. Maybe just talk about your expectations as number 4 in the rankings and how you'll be tackling this course as the culmination of the season.
JASON DAY: Yeah. I got off to a great start this year. Obviously, kind of in the middle of my season, I hit probably the high. I feel good about my game, where it's at. I think I was trying a few things out with the long stuff. I cracked my driver in the middle of my season and had to change drivers, and I just haven't quite been able to get the right combination.
Right now I think -- for me personally, I think it's a little bit more of a -- there's going to be a little bit of a swing technical part, a bit of a mental part, and then obviously just trying to get used to a new club. But I'm going to try to work that out.
I feel like the practice over the last couple of days back at home felt pretty good. Haven't been able to prep as much as I would like to for this week due to the fact I had to withdraw from the BMW with my back. But overall, I feel good. I feel good about myself.
I know that I'm in the top five. I have a shot at winning the FedExCup if I win the tournament. And that's, obviously, I'm in good position. So I know exactly where I stand. I need to go out there and win the tournament to win the FedExCup.
Q. Hi, Jason. Speaking of that, we've seen the FedExCup evolve over the course of the past decade. Speak about that, the impact it's had on the sport, and what does it mean now to an elite player like you to win it in 2016?
JASON DAY: Well, it's something that's on my mind a lot. It was on my mind last year. I had an opportunity to win a few years back and unfortunately bogeyed 17 and bogeyed 18, and that took me out of the running.
As the years go on, it's starting -- the history behind it is starting to get a little bit more and more. Even though there's 30 players here, you still get pretty nervous because, not only the golf course we play is pretty difficult, but the FedExCup is huge not only from the history standpoint, but also from where it comes with the money as well. You put that dollar amount behind a thing, you get a lot of attention.
More so than money, I'd much rather have my name on the trophy, and that's just me personally because how much is enough? We all have money, but I don't have my name on the FedExCup trophy, and that's what I really want. I know that I can only control what I can control, and today I'm going to do the best I can prep-wise. Obviously, to a limited effect with how things are going with my back.
Maybe it's a blessing in disguise that I've been able to take a week off and recharge the batteries and get back into it this week. I'm excited about the next four days after, obviously, today.
Q. Jason, as a neutral, but an educated neutral, who do you think will win the Ryder Cup and why?
JASON DAY: It's interesting. It's going to be tough. I know that -- I think it's going to be very close. With regards to the European side to the Americans, I think the Europeans have a little bit more rookies on their teams than they have in the past.
With the American side, I don't know -- we were just talking about it this morning in the breakfast that we had. Scotty said exactly what I was thinking. I'm excited to watch it because I watch a few tournaments a year, but this is one where I actually sit down and watch the whole thing because it's exciting to watch. I get to watch the other players sweat, and I can sit on my couch and watch it, which is fantastic.
But it's going to be very close. I think America has maybe the slight edge right now, but, obviously, playing here at home, having the home advantage, and then obviously with the rookies on the European side -- but once again, they're all good. They're there for a reason. They're picked, and they qualified for a reason.
So I think the hardest thing is, obviously, controlling nerves and controlling the way that you play in that team aspect. But it seems like Europe's gelled very, very nicely over the past years, and that's why they've kind of run away with it a little bit.
It will be interesting, if America doesn't win, I wonder what's going to happen to that task force, but we'll see. We'll wait and see.
Q. You haven't said who you think will win.
JASON DAY: Who I think will win? I'm just hoping for a close one.
THE MODERATOR: Politician.
JASON DAY: I'm keeping in the middle ground. No, I've got friends on both sides. So I really don't -- I don't root for one or the other. I really just want really good competition, and that's -- when I see good competition and it comes down to the finish, I'm happy for Europe to win. I'm happy for America to win.
I almost thought about actually going -- jumping on a plane and going there to watch just to see what it feels like because, obviously, I played Presidents Cup, and they say the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup are similar in ways, but just the intensity because this is a great rivalry over the last span of decades that it's been going on. It would be interesting to see how intense that rivalry is and how intense the competition is during that week, but I can't give you an answer. Sorry, mate. It's just a lot of words, and then I come up with nothing. [Laughter.]
THE MODERATOR: You are a politician.
JASON DAY: Yeah, right?
Q. Jason, every athlete, when they come back from injury, regardless of the sport, has to re-establish trust in regards to that part of the body. Where are you now in trusting your back as you enter play this week?
JASON DAY: To be honest, I feel okay. I mean, it's -- it's not the first time that it's happened. I mean, if it was the first time, then I'd be like, Oh, I'm really kind of worried about it. So I put the tee in the ground at the BMW Championship, and my back went out. Last time it went out, I changed a diaper. So it's nothing where I go and physically make a move at it during a swing and my back goes out. It literally is from the smallest things -- picking up a pillow, picking up something off the ground, or just moving the wrong way.
I had a bulged disk in 2014. Through the exercise that I've been doing, that bulged disk, actually, with the MRIs I had in 2015 and 2016, last week as well, the bulged disk has actually come in, which is kind of a miracle because, actually, when you have that kind of symptoms, you're thinking that it's either going to stay the same or get worse. Fortunately for me, they've come back in, the disk has actually come back in.
Unfortunately, I've got an annulus tear in my disk, annulus tear of the ligament. So I retore it. I've torn it once before, and I've retorn it again.
You know, just certain things just get in the way of me kind of going about my day usually, but it's just like the exercises that I have to do, the small little things that are very annoying to make sure that my back doesn't go out -- I can tell you this much. I was on the road for three weeks. I wasn't able to -- because the FedEx Cup Playoffs, you're trying to make sure you're well rested. Three weeks in a row is very difficult trying to win the tournament, prepping and all that stuff. To be able to go to the gym and activate the muscles, it's tough when you've got certain tee times and you're trying to plan around.
I wasn't able to go to the gym as much, missed a few massage sessions with my guy. Muscles turn off, and then my back goes out. But I learned from it. I'm going to try and get better.
But I feel good. I mean, the trust -- I was practicing the last two days. I'm just trying to ease my way back into it, but the back isn't an issue right now. It just happens. It's like you've got to do the small exercises. It's like brushing your teeth every morning. It's that I like them. I just have to do them because it's part of my daily routine now.
Q. Jason, you and Jordan shared a tough assignment this year in that you were trying to follow up monster years. What did you find to be the toughest part of the challenge, and how do you keep your goals real high but also temper them with realistic expectations?
JASON DAY: I think at the start of the year I was under the radar a little bit more than Jordan. I think he was, at the start of the year, I think he was number 1 in the world at the start, and a lot of the spotlight was on him, and I was okay with that because it took a lot of heat off me. As I won during the middle part of my season and I became number 1 in the world, then a lot of that media started -- even though it's still on Jordan, it started kind of creeping into my world.
It's very, very difficult. I know that -- and I'm just being honest. It's tough to be at the top of a sport and trying to deal with new things and trying to compete and handle certain parts of your life and be able to put them in boxes. It feels like, at the end of the season, I feel like my head's spinning because I'm just giving out so much time that I don't have any time to think.
To be able to play the way I did this year has been great. It's been a little bit soft over the last couple, few weeks with playoffs. It would have been nice to win the PGA again. I obviously came close, and I let one slip at the WGC Akron, where Dustin won.
But overall, I'm very pleased with it, but it's just -- it's a new experience of being number 1 even though I've been there for 30 weeks now. It's just something that I learn something every week that I'm there. It can be very stressful and very taxing on not only the physical side, but more so the mental side of actually being able to give out so much of your time.
Sometimes I'm sitting there after a week, and I just feel absolutely burnt. That's just me being honest in how I feel about it.
I think, as time goes on, I'll slowly get better and better because I feel the game and my hard work has put me in this position. I've just got to keep doing that, but I've just got to manage myself a little bit better.
But overall, I think Jordan and myself have done a pretty decent job. He's won twice, I've won three times. I think someone said like two weeks ago said you haven't won in four months. I'm like easy. Winning is not easy. I'm sure there were spans in Tiger's days when he went four months without winning. I'm hoping he did because he was dominating for a long time.
Yes, it's a lot of fun being in this position. I wouldn't trade it for the world, but it's something that I have to get better at.
Q. Two questions. They flipped the nines. Your thoughts on flipping the nines.
JASON DAY: I think 16 and 17 of the old 18 -- 16 and 17 are great. 16 and 17 holes. They're good tough par 4s. 18, I think, is a good hole. You're laughing, so I'm laughing. It doesn't make me look like that.
I just feel like it was -- it's a little tough to force anything on a 240-yard par 3, hitting 3 irons and 2 irons. It's very rare do you ever see a shot go smack bang right next to the hole under the circumstances. I think, finishing on a par 5, I'm hoping what will happen is give us a little bit more fireworks at the end, and I'm hoping that we don't play all the way back. I'm hoping that everyone can get to the green, be able to hit the green in 2, and give it a good shot at either eagling or birdieing or something like that. Nobody likes a three-shot par 5, especially at the finish. Hitting a wedge shot is very boring. Being able to hit a second shot on the green and make it more exciting like that or having the chance to hole an eagle putt is very exciting.
I know they've lengthened a few holes. I think 8. Have they lengthened 8? 6 and 8? What is 6? Is 6 that par 3? Par 4. Oh, yeah, yeah, okay. So they've lengthened a few holes out there to make it tough, but this course is already tough. They have Bermuda rough. The fairways are in pristine condition, and the greens are unbelievable. If it doesn't work out, we'll most likely flip back to the old 18 next year. It's good to try it once to see how it is.
Hopefully, it will yield a lot of birdies and eagles, and it makes it a lot more exciting.
Q. Your thoughts on what you would do with the $10 million, and is it on your mind?
JASON DAY: Yeah, it -- if you say $10 million to a lot of people, majority of the people in the world, it's going to be on their mind. It's exciting. Like I said, I mean, it's -- I don't know what I'd do with the $10 million. I don't think I'd change much anyways. There wouldn't be anything that I'd go out and buy because I don't want anything right now. All I want is that trophy. That's more exciting to me than any other thing that goes along with it.
I mean, it's obviously nice that the money's there, but I really want the trophy. That's the main reason because, like I alluded before, as professional golfers, how much is enough? We have the money, but not being able to have my name on that trophy, that's what I want.
Q. Jason, if you win this week, what does that do to a player of the year conversation?
JASON DAY: It gives me -- I was in the same situation with Jordan last year. If I -- I'm hoping, if I win this week, it gives me the FedExCup -- I'll be a FedExCup champion. It will be my fourth win, and Dustin Johnson's won three times. He's won a major. I've won a THE PLAYERS championship. Obviously, major championships are held a lot higher, but I feel like THE PLAYERS championships are right behind the major championships. If I win four times, win the FedExCup. I know that he's had 14 top tens, which is tremendous. I've only had 10. But I'm hoping that pushes me over the line if I win.
If we both finish tied fifth, he obviously deserves it. Obviously -- I mean, I'd like to put my name in that, but if we both finish top ten and he wins the money list or what we called back in the day, golf money, he definitely deserves it. My biggest thing is I've got to win, and if I win, that hopefully pushes me over the edge.
Q. And one other question. Each of the top five have a scenario or various scenarios where they could not win the TOUR Championship but yet still win the FedExCup. Have you looked at those? Are you aware of those at all?
JASON DAY: I have, but I think I've got to finish second or something. May as well win if I've got to finish second. The biggest -- my thing is I've just got to focus on winning and that's it. It's either winning or nothing else matters. That's the mentality that I have to go into because, if I finish second, that's great and all, but it may not win me the trophy. So I've got to go in with the mentality that I have to win.
Q. The fellow that you're competing with for player of the year, why do you think he put it together this year, observing up close? And how often do you recall through the years looking at Dustin and thinking, Man, if this guy puts it all together, we're all in for quite a tussle here?
JASON DAY: I see that he's working -- over this year and probably really end of last year, he started working a lot on his wedges. I mean, he's progressively worked on his wedges over the years, but I see every morning he comes out, and he's got a TrackMan in front of him and behind him, hitting his wedge shots on the greens. So he knows exactly how far his wedges are going and all that stuff. So at his length with the wedges, and then he's got tremendous touch for a big fellow out there. His touch is amazing around the greens, and he putts really well.
Three things for him to be successful: His driving, putting, and wedges. That's all he needs, and that's what he's doing great right now. Middle of the season, I think he was leading a wedge stat from like 50 to 125 yards proximity-wise, and then you get him putting. His putting out of his driving, his wedges improved. His driving has always been great, but it's even better now that he's hitting a cut. He used to hit kind of -- not a big draw, but it was like a tiny little draw. But he's a lot more accurate with that cut.
And he's long. He's the longest guy out here. You have the length with great driving. You have wedge in your hand more times. And once you improve those wedges, you have more chances or more opportunities at making birdies. And if you putt half decent, which he's putting better than half decent, I think, he's going to win a lot of tournaments. It's just a formula for success. It's so easy.
Right now his confidence is so high. When you have a lot of confidence and you feel like nobody can beat you, it's game over for everyone else.
Q. Jason, about an hour ago, you sent out a tweet about TaylorMade. Was that part of a broader announcement, or did you just feel like getting on social --
JASON DAY: An announcement as in?
Q. Saying you're staying with TaylorMade or proud to be with TaylorMade. Is that part of a broader announcement, or are you just getting on Twitter?
JASON DAY: Obviously, we're renewing with TaylorMade, and it's been -- I think I've been with them ten years, since I turned professional. It's been amazing. To be able to renew and play the equipment and be successful with that equipment and know that equipment, I'm very excited about it.
On the apparel, shoe side, I don't have anything to share right now, but I'm really excited about the future. That's all I have to kind of say right now.
Q. Jason, obviously, this time of year there's a lot of Ryder Cup talk. As a guy who's sort of an outsider and obviously not eligible, what do you make of all of it? Do you care? Do you talk to the guys about it? Are you into it?
JASON DAY: I don't talk to the guys about it as much. It's quite funny how a lot of fans come up to me and say, Are you excited to play in the Ryder Cup? I'm like, When is Australia part of Europe? It's so far away. It's a 24-hour flight away from Europe. It's amazing how many times I get that.
But it's -- I'm going to be -- I'm going to watch it. Like I said, I was actually almost thinking about flying there and just walking -- if I could walk right in. I don't even know if I can. But being able to see and feel and watch the guys.
Especially like watching Dustin or Rory or something like in final groups, just to see what they do and how they approach pressure and all that stuff, just to see if there's anything that I can do. If there's -- it feels like -- you know, I'm sure it feels like the last nine holes to them every single day that they play at the Ryder Cup. So the amount of pressure that's on those guys' shoulders is just a tremendous amount of pressure.
Once again, it's one thing that I actually sit there and enjoy, and I know exactly what they're going through, and I'm sitting there on my couch, and I'm just laughing because it's really, really difficult what they're going through, but I'm glad I don't have to go through just one week a year because it's tough.
But I'm looking forward to watching it this year because it's -- I think I'm more excited to watch it this year than I ever have in the past because I know it's going to be close. I'm hoping it's going to be close. But just the odds with how many rookies and kind of Europe is -- has kind of dominated the last few years and America should have a solid team to win this year. But we'll see how it goes.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports