AUGUSTA, Ga. — With the Masters Tournament approaching, Jason Day sounds like a member of your weekend foursome rather than a major champion who has finished in the top 20 in all six PGA Tour starts this year.
He’s amid a massive swing rebuild with instructor Chris Como, pursuing changes geared to alleviate back strain and prolong his career. He’s working toward swinging freely but not there yet. He ran through the technical thoughts swimming through his brain Monday, the sum total making his recent run even more remarkable.
The 35-year-old Aussie sounded as if he was reading every magazine cover in a dentist’s office, a hit list of golf tips and foolproof cures.
“Right now, you know, I’m thinking about making sure that I have good hip tone on the way back, that I have – if the right elbow flares out enough on top of the swing, that I have a little bit of a squat going into transition, the right arm goes down the right side of my body, I rotate, get my hands low and make sure I bow my left wrist and get my right hand on top; and you’ve got to compete, as well.”
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There are about 8,000 videos on his phone, Day said. And 7,990 of them are of his golf swing.
“So they are the things that I’m thinking about constantly on the range,” Day said. “And then I would say that if I can move it to the point where I could maybe have one or two swing thoughts, that would actually help a lot.”
It’s difficult to win a $2 Nassau with such noise between the ears. Much less chase down Scheffler, Rahm and McIlroy.
Still, over the last six months, Day flashed the form that enabled him to ascend to No. 1 in the world for 51 weeks from 2015-17. His game is polished and balanced. He’s 12th on the PGA Tour in total driving, 22nd in approach play, 15th in putting and second in scrambling, becoming a popular betting selection this week thanks to his outstanding record at Augusta National.
Day dipped to 175th in the world ranking last year, failing to earn an invitation to the 2022 Masters, where he’s finished in the top-5 three times, flirting with victories in 2011 and 2013.
But those near misses are fading memories from another era against a different set of competitors. Day knows there are more younger talented golfers joining the pro game each year. He praised the consistent elite play of the top three players in the world and knows he must continue working on his swing and his body if he wants to reach their level.
Missing his favorite tournament was a difficult experience a year ago yet it motivated him to find his current form.
“It’s been an unbelievable learning experience, a very humbling experience to go from the No. 1 player in the world to 175 and then work my way back,” Day said. “It’s been a fun little journey. I’ve actually enjoyed it. But to be able to go through this and try and, I guess, reinvent yourself is unique, and I’ve enjoyed that thoroughly.”
His practice round companion Min Woo Lee liked what he saw Monday.
“Swing looks awesome, probably even better now. It’s very sound,” Lee said. “He’s trending and it’s going to be scary when he gets to his best again.”
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