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April 12, 2019
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Like to welcome Jason Day to the media room.
Jason today carded a 5‑under 67 to end the day, tied first at 7‑under par.
Jason, you had birdies on 2, 5, 8, 13, 15 and 16. The par 5s were pretty kind to you today.
JASON DAY: Yes, I mean, the whole goal is to try and take advantage of the par 5s here this week. You know, the par3s can be difficult at times, and then some of the par 4s, you need to get through.
But you know, over the last two days, I've played the par 5s nicely. I think I've played them 7‑under, which is good. Try to minimize the mistakes out there, and you know, that's the whole goal. If you can get yourself in position and get yourself close to the green or on the green, great. If not, you know, and you're out of position, get yourself back into position and wedge it on close and hopefully hole the putt.
THE MODERATOR: Great. I know everyone's going to ask you about your back.
JASON DAY: Yes.
THE MODERATOR: So can we talk a little about the pain you had yesterday and how you played through it and put together two great rounds.
JASON DAY: Yes. It was funny, you know, obviously I've been battling back issues pretty much this whole year. Having to play four in a row, and starting at kind of Bay Hill, having, you know, epidurals and getting those shots in the back; and then last week, I had another one before the tournament started, and it felt a lot better.
You know, going down to ‑‑ I was on the putting green yesterday and I went down to kiss my little girl about two minutes before I had to walk on to the tee, and my back went out. It's obviously not the way you wanted to start this year's Masters, but you know, overall, it happened in a different spot. It was more on the left‑hand side than previous spots and typically happens on the right‑hand side.
You know, I was very concerned about it, but I think where it hurt the most was just taking a couple practice swings. Well, as I was swinging, I think I was focused into the shot where it didn't hurt as much, but just walking the side hills and up hills and down hills, everything was tough, and I'm glad it's warm out there.
So I got some physio last night, my chiro, Stuart Love, saw him last night, then I saw him again this morning, icing my back. This is not my first time where my back has gone out, so I kind of know the protocol of trying to get myself back into at least game mode to get out there and play.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Jason.
Q. Last year, you said that being in the zone for you is not caring about the outcome.
JASON DAY: Yes.
Q. And I'm wondering, if in a weird way when you are injured‑‑
JASON DAY: 100 percent.
Q. ‑‑ and trying to make it through, it helps you.
JASON DAY: Yeah, definitely. Especially at a place like this. A major, you know, Augusta National, the Masters, everything that goes on this week, how big it is, and the distraction of wanting to win this tournament so bad, and sometimes it's almost a blessing in disguise with regards to it just brings down the expectation of going out there and trying too hard.
And yesterday was great to be able to get through that, and I'm hoping that I can take the same attitude, even though I feel pretty healthy now, into the next two days and play well.
Q. Is it possible, for us, for you to kind of rate the pain yesterday as you were walking between holes, and did you ever consider withdrawing?
JASON DAY: I said to my caddie, Luke, I said, "If this stays the same pain as it was on the putting green, I'll probably end up withdrawing."
But it was in a different spot, so it was kind of new to me. I didn't know how it was going to go throughout the day. Then I saw my chiro after the first hole on the second tee, and then I saw him again on the fourth tee, and the pain actually kind of just stayed the same.
Pain is a funny thing, it goes up and down, and everybody's pain threshold is different. Someone that is in a lot of pain might feel, you know, something totally different compared to me, so it's hard.
Every day I feel like I wake up with some sort of aches, you know, and I think you just kind of learn to live with it and you just go along the way.
I didn't know how to rate it because if 10‑‑ if 10 is like the worst it's going to be, that's obviously a withdrawal, and that was at Bay Hill this year. It would be probably right around a 5. It was sore and it was hard to walk uphill because I couldn't put a lot of weight on my left‑hand side, and sometimes it was hard to get across onto my left hip, especially through the shot.
Q. I happened to be there Monday under the tree when you told Michael Campbell you felt 31 going on 50. I guess that was not an exaggeration?
JASON DAY: Yeah, it was an exaggeration (laughter).
Sometimes I wake up and I feel like I'm 50, sometimes I wake up and I feel like I'm 70, and sometimes I wake up and feel like I'm 18 again. It just comes and goes, and that's just how it is.
I'm trying to do everything I possibly can to make sure that I have longevity in my game, and that's something that I need to focus more on now than ever before, just strictly because I have to work harder than most guys, especially with a back injury.
Having a talk with Tiger and several other players that have gone through the same issues, it's no joke. There's a lot of guys out there that either have pain or annular tears. Majority of these guys probably have annular tears. Even in this room probably have annular tears in their back but just don't know about it.
Just, unfortunately, golf is a funny game where you're tilted a certain way and you're turning and rotating and torquing in a motion that is, especially for the lower back, is not supposed to happen. The amount of repetitions that we've done as kids and adults is a lot, and it slowly wears on you.
But I feel a lot more optimistic now today than I did yesterday, and I'm hoping that, you know, bar some outrageous thing that could possibly happen, I'm hoping that, you know, I feel this good going into Saturday and Sunday.
Q. You mentioned the protocols. Can you detail exactly what you have to go through every single morning to get ready for a round of golf these days?
JASON DAY: Yeah, so I have my own protocols at home. This is going to sound really weird; I have to get my ribcage back into position. So my ribcage is out of position, so you have your pelvic floor, your ribcage, and the bottom of your mouth. This is my trainer talking, not me. This comes straight from him.
So my ribcage‑‑ when my back was sore last week, my ribcage was out, and I was kind of aligned‑‑ my left shoulder was high, I think it was, and if you look at the back line of where my pants are on the back, you could see that my hips were kind of shifted and tilted.
I blow into balloons in certain positions to try and get my ribcage down, but then also I try and‑‑ I've got these other exercises that are trying to get space in the joint with regards to my hips and my back and my shoulders, and that takes about 30 minutes in the morning‑‑ 20 or 30 minutes in the morning and 20 or 30 minutes at night.
And I see my chiro, and sometimes it's 10minutes and sometimes it's 20 or 30 minutes, as all, so there's a good hour, and you obviously have to go out and warm up and make sure everything's good.
I'll go see Stuart this afternoon and do my exercises tonight. It's a pain, but I have to do it, you know.
Q. I understand your back issues stem as far back as when you were a teenager; is that true?
JASON DAY: Yeah, it first started when I was 13, 14, yeah.
Q. All from golf?
JASON DAY: All from golf. I'm not an action sports guy.
Q. And then just as a quick follow‑up. Outside of chiro or massage or shots or whatever it was you just explained, have you ever tried any weird sort of remedies?
JASON DAY: I think blowing into a balloon is pretty funny. Try to get your ribcage down and blow into a balloon, this is very new to me, actually. It sounds very insane when you're sitting there. I flew down to Florida this last week, and I met my trainer, and we're in the pilot's lounge of this FBO, and there's two pilots, you know, sitting next to me‑‑ or I'm laying on the ground and they are sitting there, and I'm blowing these balloons up. And as you set the balloons go, it sounds like you've let one go, right (laughter)? So every 30 seconds, I would be letting the balloons out, and these guys are looking at me very strange.
They understood what's going on, but it's not your usual what you see during ‑‑ and Kevin Duffy, my trainer, can obviously explain a lot more, but this is kind of new to me.
I'm just doing whatever I can to feel good. So if blowing in balloons is what I need to do to feel good, then I will do it all day long.
Q. Surprised to see yourself at the top of the leaderboard, and you mentioned this could actually be a good thing because it focuses you on something else other than the tournament; can you talk to that and how surprised you are to be on top of the leaderboard?
JASON DAY: Yeah, a little bit of surprise, after what happened yesterday and thinking that, you know, you probably‑‑ if it doesn't really work out that well with your back, then you're obviously disappointed and you're going home early. That would be frustrating.
The first thing that went through my head yesterday was immediate frustration and disappointment, just knowing that I've actually been trying to do the right things, and I feel like things were progressing nicely, and then all of a sudden it just went out.
But going into this week, I worked a lot on my short game, a lot on putting, and I've been driving the ball pretty well and my irons have been pretty decent. So after today's round, it just was a slow, patient round. I wasn't trying to take anything on too drastically with regards to being too aggressive out there, and it just kind of‑‑ I had momentum on my side. Just kind of built and built and built.
And do I think that I might have the lead after today? I may have the lead, but I said earlier that I don't know if I will, because I think the back side is very gettable out there. I think the guys, you know, with‑‑ I don't know what the weather is going to do, but I think there's no wind out there. Not like we had yesterday where there was big gusts of wind coming through, especially on that back stretch. I think the guys will probably play well this afternoon.
Q. And to follow that up, do you think surgery might be a legitimate option?
JASON DAY: No. No. No, no, no, no. I want to stay away from that as much as possible. Once you cut yourself, you can't undo what you've done in there, so if I can just stay away from that, that's the No. 1 key.
Q. How all‑consuming is this to your quality of life? I mean, it was a natural act yesterday, to kiss your daughter.
JASON DAY: Yeah.
Q. And is it the kind of thing where now you have to squat instead of bend over? How all‑consuming is that?
JASON DAY: Yeah, it's just unfortunate because I can't‑‑ you know, having to go lay down, ice my back yesterday; I was back at the buses and my boy's hitting golf balls with Caleb Watson and the kids outside. Like you want to spend some time with them, but you're in pain so you have to go back and ice your back.
It's unfortunate because, you know, as a natural distraction that you have after the round, like at a big tournament, is your family and you want to spend quality time with them.
I'm lucky I have a very supportive wife that allows me to go and do these things, and lay on the bed, and, you know, put ice on my back.
Yeah, sometimes, some years are better than others and you can have‑‑ it's hard. Emotions go up‑and‑down. Sometimes you can be down and depressed because it feels like your world is kind of crumbling around you, and you don't know if you can come back from injuries, whether it's thumb injury or back injury or wrist or knees.
As an athlete, I don't know if anyone here has played a sport before and been competitive at it; that when you have an injury, I feel like, you know, myself, it feels like your world is ending and you've got nothing else and you've put everything that you possibly can in your life into one thing, and it can be very depressing and emotional at times.
And it's hard, because you don't see the end, you know, anywhere close. It feels like you're just, you know, roaming around and you can't get out of this injury.
And then all of a sudden, just somehow pop out of it. Yeah, sometimes I've just got to take myself a lot less seriously and know that I have a good family and I've got good support around me, and that golf sometimes is not the thing that shapes me.
People like me out on the golf course because of what I do. Unfortunately they don't know who I am as a person, and I understand that. People like me because I play golf really well. But at the end of the day, I know the people that love me and support me will always be there, regardless if I tee up another ball tomorrow or not, and that's the main thing that every time I go through an injury, that I always think about.
Q. You tied for second your first trip here. What have you learned about this course since then, and what do you feel like you have more to gain in terms of knowledge?
JASON DAY: You can't be overly aggressive to this course. I pretty much could run through every single hole where you need to hit it and where you can't miss it, you know, and knowing that the past experiences of playing well here and being in contention or being in the lead, and you can obviously draw back on those things, as well.
But there are certain things. Take the par 5s, for instance. 2, the last two days, I've hit 3‑wood off the tee on 2, and then you can just hit it down somewhere around the green and get yourself in position. Whereas sometimes you can take driver and maybe pull it just a little bit left. If you go right at that bunker, sometimes you don't have enough to carry it and it's in that bunker and you're hitting 60‑degree out and you're struggling to get it on the green.
I played with Bernhard Langer, and I always say this‑‑ down 2 I hit driver and I had 7‑iron in my hand. He hit driver and 3‑wood into the green and he ended up beating me that day.
I also played with Jeff Knox, who sometimes is a marker, and he doesn't have enough power to take on some of these covers on some of the bunkers, so he has to play to his game and it's all about positioning and leaving yourself in the right spots.
So knowing that I have the game to be aggressive and be explosive, but it's more being on the conservative side and get your birdies where you can. Because tomorrow, we can wake up, if there's no rain, and tomorrow the greens could be a total different story; they could be running, instead of where they are running now, they could be running at a 14 and you're defense putting all day long. It's a very, very tough golf course.
Q. Curious as to how this affects your warmup when you get to the course as far as number of reps you can do?
JASON DAY: No, there's no reps that will change with regards to my warmup. I think it's going to be more so in my practice leading into tournaments and the prep that I do. I had a chat with my coach, Colin Swatton, last week, and I think I'm going to change the way I practice. Not so much with my putting and my short game. Still keep the same amount of quantity and quality, but lower the amount of balls I actually hit in the off weeks, but put a lot more emphasis on trying to hit every shot like you're out on the golf course.
So I concentrate more, especially, and I think if I can do that and lower the reps, then hopefully through the level of concentration, then it will be a level of quality. Hopefully that adds up the same as to hitting‑‑ instead of 40 drives, I hit 20 drives. Hopefully that adds up the same.
Q. A lot of guys with back problems say it bothers them most when they practice their putting and they can't stand and putt for a long time. Is that the case for you?
JASON DAY: No, not for me. It's always been fine. I mean, you get sore back bending over in a certain position. It is an awkward, awkward way to stand, but I think I've been doing it for so long now, and you just always walk off with a little bit of back pain.
You know, putting and chipping has always been fine. It's just the bigger movements that have been tough for me. Especially‑‑ I don't want to have to get into it, but early extending through impact and crunching down on the right side is typically a no‑go for me.
Q. You said people can't relate to you maybe as a person because they don't know you, but they certainly can relate to back pain.
JASON DAY: Yes.
Q. The very first thing when you wake up in the morning, what do you think of relative to your back? And secondly, did you bend down to kiss your daughter today?
JASON DAY: They didn't even come on the putting green today. Sometimes it takes me ten minutes to get out of bed, some years, just to roll out of bed and get up and move around. I'm walking around. But some years it's different.
You know, nothing‑‑ when I wake up in the morning‑‑ this morning I woke up, and I was disappointed because I thought my back was going to be a lot better than what it was, but obviously we worked on it last night, so things are going to probably‑‑ we moved a few things and things are going to be sore.
But like I said earlier, my wife, Ellie, I looked at her, and I was kind of moping a little bit in the bath, and she's like, "It's the Masters, you need to suck it up." (Laughter.) So I can't complain about it too much. Because I said earlier that she's birthed three children and I haven't, so she's a lot stronger as a person than me with regards to pain and I just hit a little white golf ball around a course.
I've got to listen to that. She's, like, in my corner. We got some good work in this morning with regards to the back, and things felt much better.
Q. Given the 67 and what you've been going through, how much appreciation can you give yourself with this round and how you played, given what you've been going through?
JASON DAY: I think it's just an appreciation of being able to play at this golf tournament. Being able to walk the grounds and play the golf course, and even if it is a little bit of pain, everyone‑‑ like I said, all these golfers out here have some sort of pain, whether it's knees or feet or wrists or back. Everyone's playing through a little bit of pain. Sometimes it's worse than others.
But I just enjoy this tournament so much. I get a thrill out of coming here and it's my favorite tournament to play in just because they do such a fantastic job with regards to how they treat everyone, not just the players, but everyone that walks through the gates and is walking around the grounds.
It would be more of a disappointing feeling for me to be able to go home yesterday, knowing that I had to pull out because of my back, and I feel very blessed to be able to play, especially over the last two days, and being able to go out there today and shoot 67, was a very, very good score.
So I can't get ahead of myself. There's still 36 holes left, so the main goal is to get myself into contention and hopefully I can do that by Sunday, and if I can do that, then maybe capitalize on the opportunities and hopefully grab a green jacket. That would be nice.
Q. Two very quick things. Do you remember the last time you haven't been bothered by an injury?
JASON DAY: All last year. All last year I was fine. It was great. I had no problems at all and I actually felt phenomenal. But yeah, sometimes it just happens.
Q. And second thing, when Ellie sends you a message like that, I'm just curious, so much is made about injuries, just curious if you sometimes need those sorts of things or maybe how much they help?
JASON DAY: It's more‑‑ it's not because she wasn't‑‑ she wasn't telling me to suck it up in regards to it's your back and you need to just go and play, you know what I mean.
It was more, like, on the mental side of things. I was kind of, like I said, I'm moping around in the bath and I was disappointed. I was kind of more down. She was trying to get me ready for today, and it ultimately did. Just sitting there by myself, I'm like, man, I've got to somehow change my mind‑set coming into today, because if that happens‑‑ you know, I could miss the cut today and go home, and I've got the excuse of my back. No one's expecting me to go out and play well because I've got a back issue.
But I can't let that happen. I'm trying. No one else is going to be sympathetic to me. My playing partners aren't, everyone that I'm playing against is not going to be sympathetic to me just because I've got a sore back, and I'm going to go out there and shoot one more than they should because I've got a bad back, they are going to use it to their advantage knowing that they have got that over me.
So I've got to, you know, be mentally strong and sometimes having a good, supporting wife and knowing what she has to say in certain situations to get me ready is crucial, and it obviously helped today.
Q. Without beating a dead horse today, walking down 1, climb being in and out of that bunker, did you think you would finish nine holes, let alone 18, let alone the position you're in now?
JASON DAY: Typically when I have a back issue, I see how it progresses. Sometimes, like at Bay Hill, it tightened up. These two days, everything loosened up, which is nice. Sometimes it tightens up and sometimes it loosens up; you just don't know, it is how it is.
Obviously having Stuart out there helped me along the way. He got me through nine holes. I'm like, okay, if it stays the same way it is right now, then I'll be able to get through 18, and then I'll be able to see you and hopefully get the‑‑ the pain will come off a little bit more and hopefully I'll be able to see you again tomorrow morning and hopefully the pain will just slowly diminish over time.
You know when you have an injury, you know going into it, we'll see how it progresses. If it gets worse, then can't play. If it gets better or stays the same, let's just tough it out and see if we can make something of it. And fortunately I'm able to be tied lead right now through 36 holes‑‑ or there are some guys still playing.
Playing well today was nice.
THE MODERATOR: On behalf of all the 50‑year‑olds in the room, congratulations on a great round and good luck for the rest of the week.
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