JOHN BUSH: We would like to welcome World No. 1 Jason into the interview room here at the Genesis Open. Jason, coming off of a tie for fifth place last week at Pebble, if we can just get the state of your game coming into Los Angeles.
JASON DAY: It feels all right. I mean, the short game’s coming along nicely, which is great. Chipping and putting seems likes it’s coming back. I mean I was looking at my stats last week, I think in strokes gained on every stat I lost to the field and I ended up finishing fifth. So I don’t know how that worked. I actually felt the process I’m going through with my chipping and my putting is starting to come along. Obviously the hitting’s a little bit lagging behind, but with a bit of practice and thinking of the right stuff, hopefully that changes. I feel good about this week. Hopefully we can kind of get away from that weather that’s going to come on Friday, but if not, then we just kind of deal with it and go from there.
JOHN BUSH: I believe you’re going to be paired with Justin Thomas and Hideki Matsuyama, two of the hottest players in the game right now, so just comment on that.
JASON DAY: Yeah, actually had breakfast with Justin this morning. Obviously I think three wins this year, which is spectacular. I mean, the two in Hawaii is obviously phenomenal with the 59 in there, and the way Hideki’s been playing over the last six months or year really, he’s been playing tremendous. He’s one of the those guys that goes under the radar really. No one really thinks about Hideki too much and then he’s always there. To be honest, he’s just as good as anyone else. Like you said, he’s one of the hottest players right now in the world and deservedly so because of the results that he’s had. I’ve always thought that he’s going to be a great player and a very dominant player and he’s shown that over the last year. But I have a lot of stuff ahead of me coming into this week playing against those guys and playing against the rest of the field, too.
- Jason, you told us at Torrey Pines you were thinking of entering here, you entered, you haven’t had the greatest track record here. What do you do on a golf course like this when you know that? How do you kind of reimagine your attack, your approach to it?
JASON DAY: I don’t know. I’d like to give you a better answer, but I’ve had ‑‑ I just think about THE PLAYERS Championship, I think about at Bay Hill, two courses that I typically haven’t played that great on and I won last year on. I think my best finish here is like 50‑something, which is terrible. Looking at that, you probably shouldn’t tee it up, but ‑‑
JOHN BUSH: 62nd I think.
JASON DAY: Thanks, John. Yeah, so with that said, I feel like I’m a better player now than I was however many years ago I actually entered and played in this tournament. I feel like with a good solid practice round tomorrow in the pro‑am, hopefully I don’t think my clubs will change too much off the tees. I think just being able to go through the round and seeing which ones I can attack and not attack and really understand, I actually got the stat sheet in my back pocket of my results, I think it’s plus‑7 and the average winning score here is like 11 or 12‑under, so that’s a bit of a discrepancy right there. So there’s a lot of change that needs to happen for me to play well here, but once again, I think I’m very positive about how things are progressing in my game and looking forward to the week. I’ve just got to keep my head down and keep playing and keep fighting on forward.
- Jason, two questions. In Hawaii you were quite honest about you don’t ‑‑ you aren’t going to speed up your play just to be faster.
JASON DAY: Yeah.
- What kind of reaction have you gotten from your fellow players, has anyone said anything to you positive or neglect?
JASON DAY: I think Bubba got me in the restroom one time, he said he’s going to report me. He said you may as well fine him. I said okay, it’s fine, you can fine me as long as I keep beating you. I was okay with it.
But to be honest, once again, there’s a set of rules that the PGA Tour has. As long as you stay inside those rules, you can back off as much as you want as long as you stay inside those rules. That’s the biggest thing for me is like I wanted to be a lot more deliberate. Now, saying deliberate is not being slow. Deliberate is being a lot more ‑‑ I’ve been 100 percent in my process of actually hitting the shot. That’s not slowing everything down. I still walk just as fast as I have before.
You know, I would like to think that everyone in this room would take just a little bit longer if they had a million dollars on their mind. You just can’t get out there and just hit it just because that’s what everyone thinks. Once again, tournament golf to amateur golf is different, but you still have to abide by the rules and obviously I respect the other players that are playing. But last year I felt that I kind of, you know, I think I had a lot more peer pressure and I’m like I’ve got to speed up play, but why would I need to do that when I played such great golf. I only had one time last year and, you know, why would I need to speed up when I know that if I keep playing the way I’m doing, I’ll still stay in pace but I’ll play some good golf.
You know, I’m just ‑‑ I’m still trying to work on things, being a lot more deliberate, making sure that everything’s 100 percent. But I once again respect the players, respect the rules and go from there.
- And very quickly, what was your reaction to Tiger’s latest setback?
JASON DAY: It’s hard. I just don’t know, I’ve never had surgeries on my back before. Obviously I’ve had back problems, but I don’t know what the feeling is coming back from a back surgery let alone three back surgeries and then flying across to Dubai, whatever that was, 20 hours or so from San Diego, and then having to fly back here.
I think it’s a double‑edged sword for him because he has to come out and play and play tournament golf, but you have to watch also your back and make sure that’s healthy because you have to play golf to get tournament ready and get the competitive rounds under your belt and get those juices flowing again, but also in the same regard you have to be wary of is your back 100 percent.
It’s a long flight, you’ve got to think about it, but I think the long flight might have hurt that obviously going across to Dubai. Hopefully we see him at Bay Hill. It would be good to see him at Bay Hill. I just want to see him back competitively playing and not having to have the injury kind of doubt in your mind.
- So that was my question about the back, how which part of the back was injured and what have you done in your golf swing to prevent it from happening in the future?
JASON DAY: Yeah, so I have an L4‑L5 bulged disk.
- Left side or right?
JASON DAY: It seems like it’s going all the way across the back, it’s low back but usually it crunches on the right side. Now with that said, I had 3D testing, bio testing on my swing and you have a 12‑sensor suit on and that tells you exactly what’s going on in your body when you swing a golf club. As the last two years before this year went on, my swing got a little bit longer. With that, I felt like when it got a little longer, my back kind of tilted over a little bit more so when your back tilts over, it crunches down. It’s hard to explain. But when you swing up to the top, my back kind of reverse C’s and you come back down and you crunch down on the right side. So I think shortening the swing a little bit helped that out, getting across to the right side, being able to shift my weight to the right side on the backswing, being able to open up and go from there helped from there.
- The scenario this week where any of three players could leave here at No. 1 in the world. I don’t know if you’re aware of that, Dustin or Hideki both. What do you think about ‑‑
JASON DAY: Who is it, Dustin and ‑‑
JASON DAY: Hideki.
- I don’t know what the math is, I know you don’t, it’s complicated. You stated earlier how much you’d like to be January to December No. 1, which hasn’t been done in a while. What do you think of the current status of being so crowded at the top? Secondly, is the world ranking pretty much just a pride thing for you? They don’t give trophies for it, I’m just curious.
JASON DAY: No, they don’t give trophies for it. I mean, it is more of a pride thing at the end of your career, you want to know how many weeks you were at No. 1. To get there even for one week is pretty special. No one can take that, you were No. 1 in the world for one week away from you, which is great.
I said earlier that I wanted to go from a calendar year would be great to go No. 1, but I need to just focus on what I need to do because you can’t really focus on staying No. 1. The more you focus on the actual target itself, the more you attach yourself to it, you make mental errors out there, you get more frustrated, you do silly things on the golf course that you shouldn’t be doing. I just need to focus on getting the process right and making sure I’m waking up at the right time, doing my corrective exercises, you know, all the boring little crap that you have to do. But I can’t focus on that. I need to focus on hitting the shot in front of me, going to the next shot and hitting that and trying to beat everyone else because I know that as long as I win, it will take care of it. I won’t even have to worry about someone coming and trying to, or it being bunched up as it is right now. Winning takes care of everything. If someone takes it off me, I’m okay with it. I’m not going to be angry or sad about it. Just goes to show that I need to work harder, need to be smarter and try and win more tournaments.
- Do you feel it’s important to get a win before you get to Augusta?
JASON DAY: I’ll take a win. I’ll take a win at Augusta, too. It doesn’t matter. It would be nice to have that win, get a little bit of confidence boost coming up. I am playing Bay Hill and the Match Play, so I’ve got a couple courses that obviously now I’ve played well at in the past. I hopefully can change it this week. It would be nice to be able to win here, but if not, go to Mexico and try to win there as well.
- Is there any way to explain what happens when you go through a stretch as you did at Pebble with that bad nine holes, and was your change in your swing a factor at all there?
JASON DAY: It’s funny that you say that. I think I got a little bit too technical with my swing and sometimes when I’m out there ‑‑ I explained it after the tournament finished ‑‑ that you could be driving a car and once you start thinking about certain degrees and angles and the way you turn the car, the way you push your foot on the pedal and you add pedestrians and cars and you think about other things, you’re going to crash or do something silly and that’s the same in the golf swing. When you’re free flowing and in the zone, you don’t think of anything other than trying to get the ball from point A to point B, in the hole with the least amount of strokes.
I think once Round 3 started, I came back, I woke up at 4:30 finished Round 2 and Round 3 and started on 10, which is a pretty tough start but it is what it is. I made a couple errors. That day I had a couple three‑putts. I hit one out of bounds on the par 5, which is just random out of the blue. It’s funny, you just feel like things are spinning out of control and you’re going, why is this happening. I actually feel like I’m still hitting it okay, but I felt like I got a little bit too technical thinking‑wise. After the tournament I explained that I’m just trying to change my mental process with regards that I’m trying to get it more like my putting and my chipping whereas I don’t think as much about technique and I just go out there and see the target and try to visualize as best I can and hit the shot.
- Jason, is there any part of you that looks at the back pain Tiger’s gone through and worries about will that be me in 10 years, and if so, how do you deal with that?
JASON DAY: Ten years, if that’s 40, I’m okay with that. Forty’s okay. I’ve had a good career. It’s tough to say. I mean, any injury is terrible, but back, I mean, I’ve had so many, it’s too much to explain. I’m just trying to extend my longevity of my career and I always say that if it is me in 10 years, so be it. But I’ll end up quitting the game or walking away from the game at the moment that I don’t want to improve anymore. The moment I don’t want to improve and I don’t want to play to win tournaments is the moment that I’ll walk away and I’ll be happy with it because I just can’t keep fighting myself about it.
Yeah, I mean, yes I’ve been playing plagued by some injuries in my career, but I feel like I’ve taken the correct steps to hopefully get rid of those injuries in the future. Once again, they can pop up at any time, but the good thing about myself right now is that I haven’t gone under the knife. Once you go under the knife, you can’t take that back. You’ve been cut up and they’ve done stuff to you. So hopefully I can stay healthy and get to 40.
- Do you feel like you would be okay just getting to 40, traditionally a lot of golfers will go 40s, even 50s, do you think the expectation maybe should be a little bit different?
JASON DAY: Yeah, golf is everything to me right now. It’s always been everything to me. Ever since I was a kid all I could think about was how do I improve, how do I get better to win the next tournament, and it will always be like that up to the point where I’ve done it long enough and I’m okay with walking away and I don’t want to improve anymore, I don’t want to win tournaments and that’s the moment that will happen.
Thinking the way I’m thinking right now, I want to improve so I’m going to do something about my back and I’m going to do something about all the other injuries that have possibly come up. But it is what it is. Actually, I have ‑‑ for personal reasons, my trainer had to leave and currently going to see another guy and seeing how that goes. It’s going to be an interesting process to go from one trainer to another, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the new guy goes.
- Jason, you’ve been on top of the golf world for a little while now. Simply, is there pressure for you being No. 1 in the world, and if so, is it internal or external that you’re feeling most of the heat?
JASON DAY: Oh, man, being No. 1 in the world is tough. It really is. It’s exciting. It’s a good place to be, it really is a good place to be. I wouldn’t trade it for the world even though it’s mentally and sometimes physically demanding because once again, you’re out doing everything, you’re seeing the fans, seeing the media, trying to play competitive golf and then you go back home and you’re trying to be the No. 1 dad as well. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s really, really difficult not to bring it home.
I felt like I’ve really learnt a lot about myself over the past year being able to let things go more so and not really ‑‑ I mean, I don’t look at a thing on social media. I don’t wish to because the amount of negative stuff that comes out of social media is pretty poor. But to be honest, it doesn’t affect me when I see negative stuff about me because it’s not my problem, it’s the person’s problem that’s writing the negative stuff. It’s really their fault and their problem because it means something to them. It is a lot of pressure but you’ve got to keep fighting and keep pushing forward because you get to No. 1 in the world, my whole goal in life was to get to No. 1 in the world, get to No. 1. Where do you go now, you know what I mean? You’ve got to keep pushing forward and trying to find a way to stay there.
- Has being No. 1 in the world met the expectations that you had of getting there?
JASON DAY: Say again?
- In other words, getting to the top of the golf world, was it everything that you expected or not?
JASON DAY: It’s kind of been a bit of a blur, to be honest. I think things have gone by so fast. It hasn’t ‑‑ my life has not really changed too much. I’ve got a little bit more popular I guess I would say in a way, but my life hasn’t changed too much. Once again, things do get to me. Like if I have to, if I go out on the range, like not today but like normal range time, I’m trying to get my practice done, I’m trying to get my work done so that I feel 100 percent ready for the tournament. Then you have one guy come up and talk to you and you get the next guy. That’s fine, it is what it is. But you’re really trying to be able to focus and sometimes you want to scream because you just want to get your work done. You know, it’s good things, it’s all good things, you’ve just got to somehow deal with it, get the job done and move on.
- Jason, there are a lot of theories as to why younger players are winning out here on a more consistent basis, Jordan last week, your two playing partners this week. What’s your theory?
JASON DAY: They’re good. It’s pretty plain and simple. Yeah, they’re just good, they’re really, really good. Plus they’re hungry, they’re really, really hungry. You see the guys, they’re doing everything they need to do whether it’s eating right, going to the gym, practicing. Things have got so much more scientific in approach to golf now. You see guys out there with TrackMan. I was hitting balls next to DJ and he’s walking up there with TrackMan. Guys have TrackMans and mental coaches and swing coaches and short game coaches. I mean you name it, they’ve got it because once again, you’re an individual as a player but you have a team of people around you to make you the best player you can.
The hardest part about obviously having that team is finding the right people that actually care and not care about ‑‑ having those people not caring about how much money they’re making or how popular they are or anything like that. They actually have to care about the actual individual and wanting to push them in the right direction or wanting to push them in a that individual’s goals.
It seems like every time I talk to Justin and Jordan and Hideki and those guys, you see Hideki’s got a little entourage, the same guys with him every single week. So that’s his team that he feels like he believes 100 percent in, and I’ve got the same guys. I’m assuming those other young guys have the same people. So once you have that team and you feel comfortable and confident in that team, you can go out and you know all you have to do is go out and execute because you’ve got the right backing.
With all that said, you can have the right team but you also have to want it as well. You have to be motivated to want to win tournaments. Sometimes it will go up and down with guys like myself and the younger guys. Sometimes you want it more and sometimes you want it less. Unfortunately, I would love to know the trigger because I would like to click it on just like Tiger did for 13 straight years. But until then there’s still going to be a lot of young guys that are trying to get to that No. 1 spot, trying to win that next tournament and that’s why you have to stay focused and stay strong and try and beat them.
- Just quickly, what are you going to take into this week from Pebble Beach, especially bouncing back from that 75 like you did?
JASON DAY: I felt like a 75 was the best score I could have shot, which sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Being No. 1 you probably shouldn’t be shooting 3 over. But I actually came on strong and I had like four birdies the last six holes, which was pretty nice.
- And that gives you confidence coming into this week?
JASON DAY: Yeah, things go in and out of my mind pretty quick. I forget things pretty quickly. I can’t even remember what I did two minutes ago. I think I’ll be okay. I’ve just got to make sure that everything’s correct. I had a good day off yesterday, went on a date with my wife and I made sure I did all my practice this morning. I’ve got the pro‑am tomorrow and we’ve got a good day Thursday. Friday’s going to start to change, but that’s just things that you have to deal with and I feel like I’m a pretty good mud runner when it comes to bad weather. With that said, I feel confident about my game. Hopefully I can beat these guys this week. It would be nice.