Day back where he started torrid run in 2015

This is where it all began last year for Jason Day.

After coming close only to suffer major disappointment in the U.S. Open and the Open Championship, the Aussie birdied the last three holes to win the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ontario, where he will defend his title this week.

Day went on to win six more times in his next 14 events, including his first major title in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, and has taken a strong grip on the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings.

“It was kind of, I guess, the start of my run where everything kind of changed my world, really,” said Day, who had won only twice on the PGA Tour before the start of his streak.

” … I think subconsciously I just finally got over the hurdle that, it’s your time to start winning and play well. And I think I finally found that belief in myself to be able to really say, ‘You’re a good player. You deserve to win these if you put yourself in these opportunities.’ Unfortunately, I didn’t win (the Open at St. Andrews, tying for fourth), but then I followed up with a win in Canada after that.”

Day’s surge, with seven victories in 15 events, carried over into this year, when he has captured the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the WGC-Dell Match Play and the Players Championship.

That impressed even his peers, including fellow Aussie Adam Scott, who thought he saw just a hint of Tiger Woods in his prime.

“That’s Tiger-esque,” said Scott, who in 2007 the only Aussie to win the Masters but has been passed as the best golfer from Down Under by failing to win even one more major.

“I try to imagine how good Tiger felt just playing about five years into his pro career having won like 50 events, and imagine how you’d feel confidence-wise. Jason must be kind of feeling something like that at the moment. That’s an incredibly nice way to walk out on the golf.”

Interestingly, Woods has been something of a mentor for Day during his run.

While Tiger has not played since last September following two back procedures that make a total of three, he has texted and had other communication with the new world No. 1.

“The chats that we have … it’s about how mentally tough he was,” said Day, who finished in the top 10 in six straight majors before a disappointing tie for 22nd on Sunday in the Open Championship at Royal Troon. “I want to put it this way, for the most part his game plan was, when he would try and play against us and when he didn’t have his best stuff, he would just find a way to get it done. Miss it in the right spots. His game plan was, I just got to get this ball in the hole.

“If it was trying to catch someone, he wanted to cut that lead down maybe one or two shots or whatever it was, just cutting into that lead will show that there’s presence there. Even the same way, if you have the lead, being able to extend that lead shows that you’re playing some pretty strong golf.

“But I’ve learned a lot about him. But the mental strength that he had, just the will to try and get the job done regardless of how you’re hitting it is probably the biggest thing. Not everything that I take from him works for me. But that’s why we’re two different players and I play a different game to him. So it’s kind of really just sifting out all the stuff that I think will work and work for me and trying it out. From there trying to put that in my game and hopefully it works.”

So far, it’s been working pretty well.

And losing has been a part of the process for Day, too, like when he blew the lead down the stretch in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational early this month by going bogey-double bogey on the 16th and 17th holes to slide to a tie for third.

“I learn more when I fail than when I win,” said Day, who has finished in the top 10 on 19 occasions the last two seasons. “I don’t like losing. It sucked. It was really bad. I hated losing. It was a terrible way to lose, and it was frustrating and disappointing.

“But it was great to be able to learn something from that and turn this into what I would say a learning experience and try to move forward and get better from it. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to get as good as I can and the only way to do that is to learn from failure, and the way you look at it is not in a negative way. You have to look at it in a positive light that, OK, I did this for a reason. I’ve got to try to get better and move on. If I can do that, then you can’t do anything but go up.”

That’s the path he’s been on for a year now.

–Story courtesy of The Sports Xchange, TSX Golf Editor Tom LaMarre

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