Jason Day: I feel very motivated to climb the ladder again

Former Players Championship winner Jason Day is feeling confident of his chances this week at TPC Sawgrass, claiming his game is constantly improving as he attempts to recapture the form he showed when he became World No.1.

The Australian was one of the hottest golfers on the planet in 2015-2016, winning seven times in ten months, including a first Major title at the PGA Championship and a four-stroke triumph at the Players Championship.

But a longstanding back injury and spasms that flared up periodically took their toll, not only physically but confidence-wise, with Day dropping outside of the top 100 on the Official World Golf Ranking.

However, the 12-time PGA Tour winner has bounced back this year, returning to the top 50 after an impressive run of form, finishing inside the top ten of his last four events, including the ‘elevated’ WM Phoenix Open, Genesis Invitational and Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Day won the PGA Championship in 2015

“I feel like things are progressing in a good way swing wise and obviously with the short game as well, but I’m not really trying to project myself too far in front,” said Day.

“I feel that the swing just needs to slightly improve a little bit to try and get that control back with the irons, but overall I feel very motivated to try and climb the ladder again, that’s all I can say.”

The 35-year-old finished on 15 under par, with American Kevin Chappell his closest rival on 11 under when he went wire-to-wire at the Players Championship in May of 2016.

Day’s halfway total of 129 was a record for the event at the time, before it was matched by 2018 champion Webb Simpson the year prior to the tournament moving to a March slot on the schedule.

“It definitely is (nice to return to a course where you’ve won),” he said.

“Do I miss it when we were here with firmer conditions? Maybe. The course is going to be tough, the rough is a little bit thicker this year and we’re going to get a bit of wind coming in from all directions so that’s going to keep us on our toes, which is nice.”

“I feel like coming off the backend of some really solid golf, I’ve got a good chance of playing well here this week.”

Day’s compatriot Cameron Smith is the defending champion this week, defeating Anirban Lahiri by one stroke in a Monday finish in last year’s event, but the Australian won’t be competing after signing for LIV Golf for a reported $100m+ last summer.

“I miss Cammy, he’s a good player and obviously from Queensland, Brisbane as well,” said Day.

“I miss Marc Leishman as well and a lot of the guys that have moved onto LIV Golf. I don’t blame them for going, they had an opportunity to pick up whatever they wanted to money wise and they made that decision. It’s a little bit sad that Cammy isn’t here this week but the decision has been made.”

Despite not being able to defend his title, Smith revealed he may still go and take in the action in Florida, given the fact he lives locally.

“It would be funny to see him in glasses kind of nonchalantly walking around the course, but you’ll spot that mullet from a mile away!” joked Day.

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