GOLF: Five years ago Jason Day was set to quit the game because of stress. Now the world No.1 is thriving on the pressure.
Day will tee up for the US Open at the Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania relishing the challenge of facing one of the toughest courses on the PGA Tour.
It’s something that did not seem possible when Day was considering quitting golf following his runner-up finish at the 2011 US Masters at Augusta.
The Queenslander confided to those close to him that if he did become the top player in the world he would then walk away at the peak of his powers.
“It’s amazing to think I said that, but at the time I felt so stressed out that I really felt if I ever got to No.1 I would be done,” Day recalled ahead of the second major tournament of the season.
“I would have climbed the mountain and then I could finally relax and walk away content.
“But I don’t think that way any more.
“I’m driven to win tournaments just because 10 tournaments that I’ve won is not enough. I need to win more.
“Now I enjoy the stress. It’s a different stress. But I love being here.
“Now it is all about trying to stay at No.1 for as long as I possibly can.
“I don’t like to use the word legacy because it sounds a bit like I’m full of myself, but I am trying to see how far I can take myself, how far I can push being the best in the world.”
The 28-year-old, who won his first major at last year’s US PGA Championships, has a good record in the US Open, finishing runner-up twice in five appearances, with two other top-10 finishes.
Phil Mickelson last week described the Oakmont course as the toughest the professionals face on tour, but Day said he was looking forward to the test.
“This is one tournament that is very stressful and I feel like I thrive under stress,” he said.
“I’ve never been more stressed in my life than right now.
“It’s just because being No.1 in the world, having a lot of expectations on you, having to practise so hard to keep that No.1 spot, trying to win as many tournaments as I can, puts a lot of stress and pressure on your shoulders.
“It’s good pressure to have.”
“I’d much rather have that pressure than be at the end of the field and no one expecting you to win.
“That’s the kind of pressure that you’ve got to enjoy and love.
“You have to come in to major championships and your attitude has to be on point.
“If you’re going to have a bad attitude, you may as well not even tee it up that week because you probably won’t play good anyways.”
Day will be among seven Australians in the field at Oakmont. The others are fellow Queenslanders Adam Scott, Cameron Smith and Steven Bowditch alongside Victoria’s Marc Leishman, South Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy and New South Wales’ Aron Price.
PAST FIVE US OPEN WINNERS
2011: Rory McIlroy (16-under)
2012: Webb Simpson (1-over)
2013: Justin Rose (1-over)
2014: Martin Kaymer (9-under)
2015: Jordan Spieth (5-under)
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