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July 19, 2017
STUART MOFFAT: It's my pleasure to welcome the 2015 PGA champion, Jason Day, to the interview room.
Jason, welcome to Royal Birkdale.
JASON DAY: Thank you.
STUART MOFFAT: Looking back at your performance in 2015, you had a good result at St. Andrews. How much are you looking forward to contending this week at Royal Birkdale?
JASON DAY: This has always been one of those weeks that has always been a little bit tough for me with my major performances. My best finish obviously at St. Andrews in 2015, finishing tied for 4th there.
I'm looking forward to this week. Obviously it's a nice, tough golf course. I got in Monday morning. I didn't come out Monday. And then I played 18 holes Tuesday. And I played in in a southeast wind, which is a totally different wind to what we normally get here. And I think everything is kind of switching for tomorrow's round. So it's going to be kind of a new golf course for me tomorrow. But regardless, I'm looking forward to trying to get back into the winner's circle this year, and hopefully I can do that this week.
Q. You just mentioned you got in Monday and not coming out until Tuesday. Go back to Augusta for example, you liked to get in early, spend some extra time. Is it just you feel different at different places, is it logistics?
JASON DAY: No, I had three weeks off before this, so I could have got in early. I was supposed to come in on -- actually supposed to get here Sunday. And I was flying through JFK and President Trump was there and there was a bunch of delays. So I just decided to move my flight back a little bit later.
Like I said, I took Monday off. And usually I do -- I get in here to places like this early. I usually get in Thursday or Friday and play a couple of practise rounds. I did it this year at Augusta and I was just truly knackered by the time I started Thursday. So I'm just hoping -- this week has felt a lot quicker to me. I've got a lot of good prep going into this week. I've been doing a lot of work back home. And then obviously playing 18 holes yesterday. It would have been nice to play in the prevailing wind, but that's just how it goes. And I got some work before I came in here.
I think all in all I feel pretty ready and fresh going into tomorrow's round.
Q. First, just a quick follow-up on that, you were delayed because of President Trump traveling through. Have you ever been held up by a head of state?
JASON DAY: I have. President Obama held me up one time flying out of Palm Springs. So I understand. It is what it is. So it was massive delays. They were stopping and starting, so I just didn't bother with it.
And it was quite nice, I got to spend more time with the kids at home.
Q. What's been missing for you lately? What's been the problem?
JASON DAY: Okay. If you take my years 2015 and 2016, I hit it long and straight, straightish. I hit my iron shots a lot closer and I holed everything on the greens. And this year it's not as long, it's not as straight. My iron shots aren't as close, and I'm not holing as many putts. So it's a perfect formula for not having a good year.
I've just got to keep working at it. The hardest thing is being able to take your own advice sometimes. It's so easy to give advice out. And unfortunately it's very, very difficult to take your own advice sometimes. And my advice is to be as patient as possible and just keep ticking the boxes, and hopefully the work and the workload pays off in the long run.
In today's world in sports in general it's very easy to kind of shoot yourself in the foot a little bit, whereas you want things to happen really quickly. It's kind of like the flavour of the week - whoever wins that week, everyone wants to talk about, but you go to the tournament next week and no one wants to talk about who won last week. And they only want to talk about the person that is winning this week.
I have to be patient with myself and hopefully just let things happen.
Q. Martin Slumbers was talking about the internal out of bounds on No. 9, inspired by your caddie asking if that was right. Can you talk about that a little bit?
JASON DAY: Yeah. I don't think anyone was going to go down there, anyway. We just asked. Yeah, it is kind of a strange line, but if you do get it on that -- like if you get a nice breeze, you can get within 90 yards or so of the green, hitting a good drive down there. I can understand if guys are actually going to think about going there. But I understand the safety issue, as well, because if you're hitting a driver and guys are walking straight up 10 fairway, you can hit someone or injure somebody pretty badly. I understand that point of view. But I've never really heard -- you can get an unlucky bounce. If you lose one on the wind or something like that, and it bounces awkwardly and you're a foot on the fairway or an inch on the fairway, you're out of bounds, it's a little unfair. R&A have obviously made that rule for a purpose. And I guess I'll be hitting iron down there now, not taking the 10 line.
Q. No. 6, Henrik said it was going to be the hardest hole. Do you know how you are going to play that? If it had a name, what would you call it?
JASON DAY: What would I call it? I don't know. What did he call it? Did he say anything?
Q. He didn't give it a name.
JASON DAY: It's kind of hard, because I can understand it could be a very simple par-5. It would be quite easy, and I played it in a southeast wind, kind of off to the right and in. I hit 2-iron and then 6-iron, I believe, 2-iron, 6-iron into it. And the green is what makes it -- you can't hit it in any pot bunkers, obviously, off the fairway, but that right pot bunker is really bad. So once you get on the fairway then you've got a long shot in. That's going to be very difficult. But I've heard guys maybe laying up just short of the greenside bunkers and you chip yourself up the green. And that's one of those holes where you can make a big number quick.
And if you can kind of manage your way around there -- I don't know what it played back in 2008, how many over it played. But if you can get away with four pars there, it's obviously like birdieing the hole each and every day. Like I said, trying to hit a 2-iron there, hopefully hit it across. But you can lay up if you're in trouble, get it just short of the green and chip up.
Q. Earlier you said you would play golf at your own pace, come what may. What is your policy this week, and how you would react to being put on the clock?
JASON DAY: I've been put on the clock already this year, so it doesn't really worry me too much. I guess I've got to try -- once again, you've got to respect the other players, as well, out there. Last year I was put on the clock once, and I think this year maybe once or twice. The only reason why I think a lot of people think I'm slow is that when I was playing well, I was in a lot of groups on Sundays, in the last few groups and usually everyone takes their time on the last few groups on Sunday. If I'm 70th, I'm not taking much time. I'm kind of racing around the golf course then.
Obviously it all depends on what position you're at. But I still definitely will take my time. I need to make sure that I'm hitting the correct shots. I think at the end of my career no one is going to go, he was a great golfer, but he was slow. To be honest, I don't really care what people say. I need to do what I need to do to win a golf tournament. And within reason of respecting other players and the Rules of Golf. When someone gets put on the clock, we need to pick up the pace of play, and everyone understands that. And I'll do my best to make sure that I try to not get put on the clock. But if you're looking at it statistically this year, I haven't been put on the clock too much. And once again, the year before that and the year prior to that. Everyone thinks I'm slow because of the pace of play that I've played on in Sundays. During 2015 and 2016 I was in a lot of groups that were on TV in the final day.
Q. Back in 2015 it actually kick-started your great form, and you were in a mentally good state with this tournament. How difficult is it to get into that mental state?
JASON DAY: It's very difficult, yeah. It's one of those -- back at St. Andrews it felt like a lot of weight was lifted off my shoulders, even though I wasn't playing that great leading into that event. I won earlier that year, but during the middle of my season wasn't that great. I missed a couple of cuts coming into that event. I came across the pond and was feeling relaxed and very calm about my game, and I knew whatever happened it was going to be okay. Even though I had a bit of a disappointment on Sunday I felt like there was greater things behind it coming, and it ended up happening where I won the next week and then getting my first major that year. And then obviously winning the BMW, that propelled me to No. 1 in the world.
And getting back earlier to a question that I had earlier, I knew that even though I was relaxed, I needed to be patient with myself. And I had that patience through -- I had that patience through that little stretch of run that I played so well in.
Q. You said you had difficulty taking lessons from yourself. You said when you had a bad round, that Tiger would send you a tip and you have not contacted him. Have you been in contact with him since regarding that?
JASON DAY: Yes.
Q. So you know what his advice is that you're going to take up?
JASON DAY: It was more about my putting stroke. We had a look at it and it seemed pretty decent. So obviously it's great to have a set of eyes like Tiger's, especially who's one of the best clutch putters of all time, to be able to kind of see on TV what you're doing wrong. So just trying to tidy up a little bit and hopefully I putt a little better this week.
But, yeah, I had a chat to him and he seems like everything is doing okay with him. I was just trying to tidy up a little bit with the putting this week.
Q. Going back to what you were saying about form this year and sort of being off in that regard, how close do you feel like you are to getting back to where you were two years ago? And secondly, is it just a matter of it having been a journey this year in a lot of ways, or is it a matter of it's just golf and it's an off stretch?
JASON DAY: Back in 2015 and 2016 -- obviously on the later part of 2015 and 2016 there was nothing more -- I didn't want anything more than just -- I didn't want to finish second place. I wanted it more than anything in the world. And I feel like I got a little bit burned out the end of 2016, and take a couple of injuries in that, as well. My back was really letting me down a lot during the latter part of 2016. And I was very disappointed in that. And you take the burnout factor and the injuries and just being fed up with it, the pressure of being No. 1 was difficult, as well. And it got to me little bit. And unfortunately I think I'll handle it a little bit differently when I get back there hopefully one day.
But the hardest thing in golf is motivation comes and goes, but the discipline needs to be there every single day. And unfortunately I wasn't as disciplined at the start of this year as I had been over the last couple of years and the couple of years beforehand, because a lot of the work that went into winning in 2015 and 2016 happened the years prior to that leading up to it. And like I said, the motivation will always come and go, and that's something that you can't always control. So some days you just wake up more motivated than other days, but you always have to stay disciplined. And if you can stay disciplined within yourself, hopefully the little slump you go through will be at the end and you can start to play better golf.
Saying that, I've been working very hard. I've been trying to tick the boxes, and hopefully I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Q. You've always been an extremely hard worker and very much a family man. How much is being a young father also contributed to a fraction of lack of motivation?
JASON DAY: No, it wasn't even being that. I've always -- I always have Ellie and Dash and Lucy on the road with me, other than this week. They are usually on the road with me. And I had the scare with my mom at the start of the year. When you feel like you're going to lose someone that are very close to you, there's nothing you want to do more than just be with them and you don't even want to think about playing golf or even think about working. So there's a stretch there where I'd just go home and just sit around with her.
And obviously the time that I would be spending working and practicing, it caught up to me and I hadn't been playing as great as golf as I should have, but within reason. I needed to take that time off because I thought I was losing my mom, and didn't think she was going to be around anymore. So I wanted to spend all the time with her I could. Up to that time I'd only see her once every year. And there was nowhere enough time to spend with your mom.
So saying that, everything seems like it's kind of coming back into balance for me. And I'm able to focus on just really getting after it and working hard and trying to really pinpoint what has been going wrong in my game, which is I alluded to earlier, driving, kind of the shorter irons, wedges and putting. And if I can really hit those, hopefully I'll get back to the winning form and get back to No. 1. That would be the ultimate goal.
Q. Just quickly, you talked about, before you came here in 2015, you had a bit of a lull, but you pretty much almost won it. Do you come here believing you can win or hoping you can win this week?
JASON DAY: You always have to believe in yourself. It's easier said than done. You can always -- it's like anything, you can say that you want to win, but if you don't truly believe in it, it's not really going to happen. You may strike lightning in a bottle once or twice. But I've just got to resolve myself to the fact that I've worked very, very hard and been disciplined over the weeks, and weeks leading up to the few weeks that I had off, that I'm doing the right things -- not only on the practise range, on the golf course, but I'm doing the right things in the gym and off the golf course, as well.
So I'm trying to not give myself too many expectations with regards to I'm coming in here, I'm coming in here and going to beat everyone else, and that's it. I've got to understand the form hasn't been great. I've got to just try and start with tomorrow's first ball and just somehow find it on Sunday and hopefully I'm there in contention on Sunday.
Q. Jordan was in yesterday and he talked about this tournament and in particular the draw basically eliminates half the field. You've obviously had your share of draws in this tournament. I'm wondering if you agree with that and how you tend to deal with getting the wrong end of the draw at times?
JASON DAY: The more you dwell on it I think the more it makes it worse. It's like anything, if you think you're driving it bad and you keep thinking about it, it just gets worse and worse and worse. Yes, there is luck in the draw here, because the tee times go so long. They start very early in the morning and end very late in the afternoon, and it's bound to have some change in weather. And everyone understands that.
I would say every major is all about the attitude and emotion that you bring into it. If you have the right attitude coming into an event such as this, yes, you may get some lucky tee times. You may get some unlucky tee times, but you've always just got to see some positive things. It sounds really silly but you can't go, oh, it is another major gone, because I've got unlucky with the weather. And then you'll soon find yourself blaming little things that really aren't relevant to what you're actually trying to do or accomplish on the golf course.
So you just need to not make excuses when it comes to weather and say, look, it's an outside agent that can obviously potentially hinder our performance. But there has been plenty of people that have won on the crappy side of the draw, you know. So we've got to understand that you can play some good golf in some bad weather, and you just try to get to Sunday to get yourself in contention.
Q. Is there any significance of the fact that all 11 of the Aussies are in the afternoon draw tomorrow?
JASON DAY: Yeah, I made a call, (laughing).
No, that's actually quite -- I haven't looked as far as in advance till Friday, but I think tomorrow is going to be great. But, yeah, I didn't really know that they were in the afternoon. I thought they were going to be spread around a little bit. But I guess you'll see a lot of Aussie flags in the afternoon.
Q. With everything that's happened to you both on and off the golf course this year, if you were to sum up the season of the year in a couple of words, what would you use?
JASON DAY: Oh, man, it wouldn't be words like I'm saying here (laughter).
It really has been -- I'm happy and disappointed at the same time. I'm very happy about the results of my mom. I'm disappointed in my game. And I was getting back to it before that balance is -- you need really good balance in this game to play, like really in any sport, you need balance to be able to -- off the course and on the course, to be able to do the right things, think properly, be disciplined enough, be able to just play against the best players in the world. It's really difficult to play against these guys. And when things are out of order and you're trying to battle other things and then you try to get to a golf course and play against the best players in the world, it makes it very, very difficult to win.
So I'm happy now, but also a little disappointed in how things have progressed to here. But I have to understand sometimes I've got to give myself a little bit of leeway, know that golf is a marathon, and hopefully at the end of my career I'm in some way way at the top, somewhere I've never even thought I would be. Like I said before, I've just got to be patient and just let things happen. Because I honestly believe good and big things are coming for me. I've got to just trust it and understand, keep working hard.
Q. You talked about the hard work that you've been putting in, I'm wondering if you could share any specific things that you've been working on since the Travelers? And also I understand you played with Ryan McCarthy yesterday. How was that? Were you able to have a chat with him how do you see him going this week?
JASON DAY: Yeah, I played with Ryan. He was a couple of years behind me. He's from Tasmania. I remember playing junior and amateur golf against Ryan. I knew him a little bit back then, but I didn't know him too well. And he actually contacted Ryan Ruffels in the States and I think another buddy of mine, David Lewis. He was out on the putting green, it was me and Bryson DeChambeau. I said, "I'm sorry, I forgot to get back to you. Would you like to play a practise round?"
We got to play 18 yesterday, which was great. I think he's excited. It's his first major. I was just telling him that my first major was St. Andrews back in 2010. And I absolutely loved it. And he should do the same. And it's an exciting time for him right now.
Getting back to your first question, I was just hitting a boatload of drivers, hitting a boatload of 2-irons. Working a lot on my wedge game and short game, really. Because my putting has been really off. My speed's been really difficult this year. So I was explaining it to someone, I think it was Sean O'Hair. I played with Sean O'Hair yesterday, as well. I was explaining to Sean O'Hair, when you're reading a putt and you have consistent speed, it's easy to see one line all the time. But when your speed is off, you hit one two feet past or one feet short, there's a massive distance variance that you're looking at and it's not consistent. If it's not consistent, you'll see three different lines, you'll see a high line, the right line and the low line, and it's very difficult to trust what line you're hitting when your speed is way off.
So I worked a lot on lag putting trying to get my speed down, because if I can get my speed down, then the actual line itself, will come back to neutral, and I'll be able to read the putts more consistently and hole more putts. So I did a lot of that.
Q. After the travel delay, you said another day at home. You feel more refreshed. If you win this week is he partly to thank?
JASON DAY: Yes (laughing). I think it was actually -- he was at the Women's U.S. Open, so he just stopped in and it was actually -- it was quite nice to have a day at home. Usually I'm missing -- for some reason the dates didn't match up. My boy, he was born like the Friday -- usually it's a Friday or Saturday before The Open Championship, and his birthday, the last couple of years I actually missed his birthday just to get here to prep. And I'm like, enough is enough; I couldn't do it anymore. I'm like, I can't miss his birthday. We had something earlier that week just to kind of celebrate it. But I can't do it anymore. And luckily enough this year it was the Monday, last week, and I got to spend the whole week with him. So it's really nice to be able to spend time with family, even though I don't get to do it too much.
Q. You were going to fly out on Sunday?
JASON DAY: I was supposed Saturday night and get here Sunday.
Q. But you actually flew on --
JASON DAY: I flew on Sunday night. And he was still there. I thought he left on Saturday. They said he's still at the U.S. Open. It's all right. I ended up getting here safely.
So looking forward to a great week. The fans here are tremendous. Always love coming over here. I actually get excited every time I come over here, not only the golf courses, but it's neat to be able to stay in the different towns and villages that we get to stay in throughout the years. The unique golf course -- not only the golf course design part of it, but also the way that every golf course is different, even though we're playing different sorts of links. It's exciting stuff to see each and every year. So I'm happy to be here.
STUART MOFFAT: Before we conclude the press conference, ladies and gentlemen, there's going to be a presentation to Jason from Peter Dawson, who is the Chairman of the Official World Golf Rankings. This is for Jason for the 2016 as the leading player on the rankings. I'd like to invite Peter to make a few comments before the presentation.
PETER DAWSON: Ladies and gentlemen, each year the Mark McCormack Award is presented to the player who spent most weeks at No. 1 in the World Rankings. The award was inaugurated in 1998 in recognition, I think, of Mark's great contribution to the creation of the World Ranking system.
It's been won 14 times by Tiger Woods, three times by Rory McIlroy, and once by Luke Donald. And for 2016 we have a new recipient, Jason Day.
Jason dominated the ranking last year, 41 weeks at the No. 1 spot. All thanks to his stellar play in 2015 and 2016.
Jason, I'm sorry we're a little late presenting this. 2016 is a little bit behind us now. But as chairman of the Official World Golf Rankings Board, it gives me great pleasure to present you with the Mark McCormack Award for 2016. Many congratulations.
JASON DAY: Thank you very much.
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