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May 9, 2018
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
AMANDA HERRINGTON: We would like to welcome our 2016 PLAYERS Championship winner Jason Day to the media center here at the 2018 PLAYERS Championship. Just a few days removed from your 12th career TOUR title at the Wells Fargo Championship. Jason, how important if any is it to get that win coming into this tournament?
JASON DAY: Yeah, it's definitely important just to -- because it reconfirms that things that you're working on in the off weeks are obviously paying off and paying dividends, obviously. I think that the short game is where it needs to be. Just did a little bit of work over the last couple days on my long game to try and straighten it out, and it feels like it's finally coming around nicely, and I'm looking forward to trying to get my second PLAYERS Championship this week.
But the course is in tremendous shape. I know the guys are chomping at the bit to get things started tomorrow, and I think we're going to have some good weather. So that's all good things. So I'm excited about it.
AMANDA HERRINGTON: We'll start with some questions.
Q. You talked about the fact that when you were No. 1 before you were swamped, you kind of got burned out. If you were to get back to No. 1 again, how would you handle it differently?
JASON DAY: I would have to probably carve out some more time for myself. I think to a certain degree it's very hard to get, it's very easy to get burnt giving so much time. I think you have to learn to say no in a nice way, to be able to give yourself a little bit more time. That's not only to family, to media, to friends, to fans. You're here in a position and you're No. 1 for a reason, because of the work that you put into it. Sometimes you can get a little bit distracted with all the stuff that comes with being No. 1, and I think that's what I probably would do most is I would still enjoy myself and try and enjoy the moment of being No. 1, being there, but that's one thing that you -- I guess a lot of people don't realize is it's very easy to be distracted, and once you're distracted then it takes your mind off what got you there in the first place.
I definitely know from being there beforehand, I know exactly how it feels and probably most likely what I would do to hopefully stay there for a little bit longer than for what I did at 51 weeks.
Q. You won THE PLAYERS, you won a major, you've done a lot of things in the game. I just want to ask you specifically about your desire to do things like Player of the Year, FedExCup, those sort of things. Are they on your list of goals?
JASON DAY: Yeah, 100 percent. I think we touched on it yesterday a little bit. I won five times in 2015 and I finished second probably in the list in amongst a lot of great players, but Jordan Spieth had a better year than me and that's down to the fact that he did, and that's voted on by the peers and I understand that, and he deserved that more so than anyone else. And I think I said to you yesterday that I wanted to get that title as Player of the Year and win the FedExCup and not have a conversation at all where everyone just says, yeah, he was the best.
You look at Tiger who has done it a lot of times. Yeah, obviously a lot of us that are in a position that we can obviously have that conversation, we're trying to do it for the first time. So I just got to sit down and try and focus on what I need to do right now. Hopefully the good play and the work that I put into it will pay off and I don't have to even have that conversation at all, but it's definitely on my radar. I want to be the best, and whether that's No. 1 in the world or being the best on the PGA TOUR for that season, it's all things that you can leave behind after you're done and look back on and say, wow, I've done a lot of good things in golf.
Q. We haven't had had like a seven- and eight-win season for a long time since like Vijay and Tiger and that. But just in general, do you think it's possible now given the depth of the TOUR?
JASON DAY: Well, I definitely think it's possible. The amount of talent that we have out here is unbelievable. The great thing about that, they're young; they're only going to get better. As long as they want to get better, they will only get better. I think with how strong and fit these guys are, they're hitting it further, the game's getting -- courses are definitely getting shorter. But saying that, golf is one of those things where it's got a great equalizer with the putter. So you've got to have a mixture of both.
A guy that is an all-around player typically usually is a No. 1 player in the world, and I think that with the depth that we have in the fields these days, I think it is possible, but it's also very difficult to do because of how tough the competition is. You only have to look at -- I remember back in 2006 when I played some of the tournaments when I first came out, when I played seven tournaments on the PGA TOUR, 1-over and 2-over were kind of the cut lines, even pars, at some very kind of easy golf courses. Now it's under par always, it's a very bunched, stacked leaderboard. You move up, you lose. I mean, I think Nick Watney holed a putt on the last hole last week, it was a $144,000 difference to what he was. So it's like kind of cutthroat, back and forth. So guys understand that.
I think these guys these days have -- they understand that to a certain degree and how important every shot is, not only this week but for the FedExCup and trying to get into the FedExCup Playoffs and getting into TOUR Champs. Every shot counts, and I think these guys understand. That's why everything's kind of come in.
Q. A couple of things. What specifically did you find that was off with your swing on Sunday, and what have you done to correct it?
JASON DAY: Yeah, so we had a left-to-right wind pretty much all week last week on the range. If anyone knows for a right-handed golfer, that's not a fun wind to play with, I think, if guys like to draw it. It's just like an awkward wind. At the start of the week I was swinging it pretty neutral for the most part and hitting it very straight, and by the end of the week I started kind of aiming further and further right and hitting bigger and bigger draws. That kind of fed into my iron play, which fed into my driving, and then that's why I was missing it quite large. So I was just -- I was standing there and I'm on some holes I'm hitting these big old draws and I'm like, okay, what do I do to correct it, okay, I need to just come on the back of the ball a little bit and kind of hold the face open and it would go way right. So I was stuck between two swings, and when that happens and you start losing a little bit of confidence and in actually what you're trying to see and you start focusing right here instead of trying to focus on the target, that's usually a bad sign. When you're focusing all around here, you're not focused out there enough.
This week I've just got Col in. I usually don't bring Col into tournaments only because I typically like to work with him before events, but I've had a three week stretch here, and I can kind of feel the swing's getting a little bit loose. So we just tried to even out the path a little bit, kind of trying to get it back to zero and trying to get the ball starting straighter, because I typically like hitting it dead straight. I'd like to say I hit it dead straight all the time, but I don't.
But I like seeing it that way, and I like seeing the ball kind of trundle. I don't like seeing a lot of curve on it and that's what was wrong. Once I started seeing a lot of turn this way on the weekend, I knew something was up, and I knew that I was getting too far on the inside, but I just didn't know how to react to it.
Q. So it was a pretty easy fix was it?
JASON DAY: Yeah, I mean, it's still not quite there. I mean, I'm still aiming a little bit right, but I'm just trying to move it back to the left where it I'm aiming straight now so I don't have to feel like I have to drop it on the inside and hit this big old draw. But I am starting to -- I feel like -- the correction is I just need to hit the back of the ball with a square club face. Pretty easy, right? (Laughter.)
Q. You've talked about how in 2017 you went through a lot off the golf course and it was a tough year. Now that we're into 2018 and you have two wins and results coming so quickly and coming back, how satisfying is it that your game is back to where it needs to be so quickly?
JASON DAY: Yeah, so it was a number of things that happened last year in amongst personal issues. My chipping, I decided to change the way that I -- the process in regards to how I chip. Usually when I chip to a land spot or landing area, for some reason I would always pull up short. Probably nine times out of ten, I pull the ball up short of the pin. I'm sitting there going, well, there's all those chips that I have, one's going to get to the hole, and I'm leaving all these chip shots short and they're potential chances of holing out. Then I sat down and I'm like, okay, well I'll just look at the pin, and I started getting them to the hole, but I changed the whole way or the kind of the makeup of how I actually chip.
And actually in practice it worked out great because I could actually -- I would start getting them closer, started holing a lot more chip shots in practice, but for some reason I would get out to the golf course and if I was a little bit distracted, I would chip it to 30 feet, and then that kind of fed into the game where my chipping wasn't as good, I wasn't getting it up-and-down as much as I usually do, I wasn't putting it as good because I was chipping it to 30 feet, and when you're doing that, you can't hole a lot of putts. So that kind of bled into the long game and then just kind of spiraled out of control where you just sit there and go, what's going on, and then you're kind of stuck between two methods of looking at the pin and not looking at the pin.
And finally last year I just said I'm going to look at my land spot and then that's it. Back to that now. I'm chipping it much better. Not so worried about holing chip shots anymore, just get them up-and-down. And it worked out great last week for me. But there was that part of it, too, because I think I lost a little bit of confidence in my game because I didn't have the usual weapon that I usually have is get the ball up-and-down, even when I'm scrambling around, in amongst the personal stuff that I had.
But getting my short game back gives me a lot of confidence. Even though when I'm not hitting it great I know that I can still get it up-and-down from anywhere. That gives me confidence going forward knowing that if I just hit it half decent I'm going to play good. And I've been driving it really well this season, giving myself a lot of opportunities, and I've been saying for awhile now that my iron play's not quite there but it's on the mend. It's starting to show some signs, which is nice.
I think if I can do that, keep driving it the way I have been, tighten up the irons, then I feel like I can -- I honestly feel like I can win every week, but I know that's tough to do.
Q. Since your first full season on the TOUR, you've picked up about 20 yards in distance average. What would you, if you had to pick or rank things like equipment, your physique work, your use of TrackMan, have you ever given any thought of what of all those things that have been incorporated what's been most influential in that game?
JASON DAY: Why I've gained the distance? I think there's a number of things. I think technology's obviously a huge help in everything, the science behind it. Every year I see John Sinclair in Texas, and we do a -- well, he comes to me usually, sorry, and we do a 3D test, a 3D bio on what the actual golf swing's doing. You put the 12- or 16-sensor suit on, and you swing away. You hit normal, you get your baseline, and then you do that every year, you know exactly where the swing is. So there's a technology part to it with regards to the body.
Also a technology part to with regards to the golf clubs that had -- I think it's a splattering of little pieces that have fit together. When I first came out, I was 165 pounds, now I'm 200 pounds. So there's mass behind the actual hit itself. But also, I think the training that I'm doing now is totally different to what I was doing beforehand. For a moment there I was doing a little bit of body building stuff and that didn't really work out too well for me. I looked good but I didn't really -- the golf game kind of -- yeah, was going backwards a little bit.
Now I think that I just employ -- well I shouldn't say employ, I've been working with this guy Kevin Duffy from the U.K., he works with a few of the other guys, Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood and just a number of guys to name, but he works with more guys than that, but he's saying that when you're doing leg lifts and squats and all this stuff, you need to be 1.5 times your body weight and how much actually you need to squat and dead and all that stuff. So I've been lifting a lot heavier with regards to that.
But yeah, I don't know, I think it's definitely a number of things. You can definitely improve it through gym technology, and I think that probably the biggest thing is to like always -- how do I explain it in a way that's easy? I think for me I didn't realize that I picked up 20 yards, but I think it was just -- I think that the body piece was probably huge. I didn't have a lot of mass behind me, I'm not like a Justin Thomas who is pretty skinny guy that has a lot of explosiveness. I mean, I do have that, but I need a lot more mass behind my shot.
Q. Tiger said yesterday that what impressed him most about your two wins this year was your ability to win without your best stuff at Torrey Pines and last week. Do you think that as your career evolves there's different gears to Jason Day that we haven't seen?
JASON DAY: Oh, man, I honestly feel like I'm trying my hardest here. I think my C game last week -- well, what I was saying, it was my A game because that's the best I could ever done. So I was giving every shot a hundred percent, even if they were going in the water. I think, yeah, I mean if we can -- I mean I would love to hit it like Nick Watney in the final round, hit 15 greens, 10 fairways, 15 green. That would be great. Life would be a lot easier.
But I definitely think to really purely dominate the game is you need to have -- you need to be driving it long and straight, you need to be hitting irons close, and you need to putt well. You need to have an all-around game, but they're kind of the three things that you really need to do. Out of everything, you probably most likely need to hit your irons close. You can get away with putting average, but if you hit your irons close you can get away with putting average and win a lot.
But that's why I'm always saying, hey, man, I need my irons, I need my irons, and I feel like they're coming around. I just got to practice with them. I think I'm really close to playing some -- probably some of the best golf of my life, I just got to just keep working at it. I feel like it's very, very close to being kind of like 2015.
Q. He definitely meant it as a compliment and he said it's kind of like an edge that you've added, so do you feel like there's even more gears that you can go into?
JASON DAY: Well, when you don't have your best stuff, I think that -- I said it last week, about those character moments where they build. When you don't have your best stuff, you get punched in the gut a couple times, how much can you take before you just say, okay, that's enough, I just want to kind of pack it in. How much can you take? Even though my mind was telling me no, you can't take any more, I'm like, no way, like something deep in my mind is saying, no, you can't do that, you got to keep fighting, regardless until that last putt goes in, you got to fight.
And I think right now, I don't know how far I can take it, but I feel like I can take it a lot more than what it is right now.
Q. There's been 45 PLAYERS Championships and no one's ever gone back-to-back. It seems like it's more than a statistical anomaly at this point. What do you sort of put that down to, that no one's ever repeated here or gone back-to-back rather?
JASON DAY: It's a really tough golf course. Really tough golf course, and you have the winds and everything that goes along with it. It can be -- it's very -- it doesn't suit anyone; you know what I mean? Like it doesn't suit a long guy, doesn't suit a short guy. That's why there's been a splattering of guys that have won here that have different strengths in their game, which is great. That's what a tournament golf course should be like. It should test every facet of your game.
I don't know why there should be -- like, I mean, if anything, I'm actually surprised Tiger didn't do it because of how good he was back in early 2000, thinking that he would do it, and then obviously he won in 2013. But yeah, I don't even know why. I don't have a good explanation. (Laughter.)
Q. What was most difficult for you when you tried to defend?
JASON DAY: Oh, I think I was kind of battling some other stuff off in my head, but it's always tough to come back as a defending champion. This tournament is heightened. The level of it just goes up every single year. I think it gets closer and closer to a major championship feel every single year that we play, and I feel like a lot of the guys think that it's a major championship. So there's that -- just it goes kind of that one step up from just a normal TOUR event to a major feel and like to go back-to-back in a major is very difficult to do, as well.
Q. Speaking of the kind words that Tiger had about you, just what is it like to have him out here?
JASON DAY: Playing again?
JASON DAY: It's good. It's good to see him smiling. It's good to see him actually -- he says he's stiff, but he looks pretty loose to me with how far he's hitting it. He's hitting it absolutely miles. It's just, he's got to get his feet again, like anyone else. It's hard to take that many kind of years off and come back and expect to win, and I think everyone expected him to win after what we saw at Torrey and what we saw elsewhere, the Honda and all that stuff, as well. But it will take some time.
I definitely believe that he will win again this year, but it's tough to win out here, but it's nice to be able to see him play well but play pain free, because for awhile there you could tell in his walk, you could tell in his face that he just was uncomfortable with his whole back issue.
Q. Mother's Day is coming up. What impact did your mom have of putting you in a position to be right there where you are right now?
JASON DAY: Oh, everything. Man, oh man, everything. Gave like everything. Everything that I do I owe to her. She took a second mortgage on the house to be able to send me to Kooralbyn. My sisters couldn't go to college because of it, so it's not only my mom but my sisters, as well, and they did everything. So I remember the first thing that I ever did when I first earned a check, I went and paid off her house. I think I told everyone this before, and then the smart thing would be like, yeah, I'm just going to kind of keep working, I got no bills to pay, with regards to the mortgage. She goes and buys a house across the road.
So you know, she's that kind of a person. So it's just -- I love my mom so much. That's one person that's always believed in me. She's so strict, but that's just a mother. A mother's always strict. I think that I'm definitely a lot more -- yeah, if I was my mom or my dad, I know my dad was pretty hard, but I'm a lot more afraid of my mom than my dad.
Q. You talked about how important to square the club and play great golf. Do you think we can play golf without compensation, curving the ball?
JASON DAY: Oh, yeah, that's a good question. I think as you'll see a lot of the guys, the old-school guys, it's going away from that. And I was just talking to Rory Sabbatini about this the other day, yesterday actually, because he asked me what do you feel in the shaft when you hit the driver, and I said absolutely nothing. I don't feel anything. He goes you don't feel any whip or kick or torque or tension or anything? I'm like, no, I don't. I said, we play from a different style of game. This is a guy that played well before me, and you had to learn to be able to sweep the ball from right-to-left, left-to-right, different heights, trajectories, and I think the kids these days with the technology that we have in place, all you do is just hit it long and straight now, and high. So instead of having to curve it into a tucked pin location, you can just hit it higher and go straight at it and land it softer instead of having to maneuver it into the pin. So, yes, I definitely think it's going more towards the straighter flights and straighter shots to pin locations than turning it in.
Q. Do you think that because players compensate to curve the ball that the design of the golf clubs went off science like compensating to design something for that?
JASON DAY: Well, I think everyone, we look at it -- as consumers, all we want is the ball to go long and straight. I think that technology with regards to the manufacturers want to see that, as well. They don't want to see -- I remember doing a -- I think I think it was an M4 commercial for the M4 ad of the irons, and we were trying to see how straight we could hit it. And that just goes to show they're trying to promote that these irons go dead straight, which they were. And that's how they build them. So it definitely is in the golf ball itself and also the equipment we play.
Q. I want to ask you about coming back to this week. I know you spent time here in Jacksonville here at TPC Sawgrass in your practice sessions this year. Have you been using that obviously to get ready for this week specifically as well as just your game in general?
JASON DAY: It's cold up in Ohio. It's been snowing a lot, and I've tried to get away from the weather, and this is only an hour flight away from Columbus Ohio. So this is -- when I came here, I think I played the course once, but it's something where you can get familiar with the greens. I mean, the facilities back here are off the charts. I think the best facilities that we play on or that they have on TOUR is here. Obviously it is because the headquarters of the PGA TOUR and it's a Players Club, so the facilities are always going to be outstanding.
I come here and I'm just trying to work on my game, trying to get the rust off kind of thing. So this is something where I can come here and relax, go to the back of the range and practice, get a gym session in, and then go back and enjoy the beach.
AMANDA HERRINGTON: All right, Jason, thank you for your time.
JASON DAY: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports