Date: March 22, 2017
Author: Bernie McGuire, Texas

Duty calls Day in Texas

Jason Day hopes for a week of video games, Mountain Dew, pizzas and a successful defence of his WGC Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas.

Day is spending the week at the home of good friend Nick Watney and the Aussie summed up the likely scenario each night.

The American did not qualify for this week’s $US9.75m event by virtue of his 284th world ranking, but that’s not going to stop the five-time PGA Tour winner spoiling his guest.

“I’m going to be playing video games with Nick Watney all week,” Day said.

“It’s us gaming all week – Call of Duty, Mountain Dew and pizza.”

On a serious note, Day clearly is not the form player heading into this week’s event, especially compared to a year ago when he arrived in Austin having won the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The Queenslander’s best finish this year has been T5 at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but in his last event before the Masters, Day said he’ll stick to his 2016 routine by staying off the Austin Country Club course on the banks of the Colorado River that twists and winds its way through the Texas capital.

“I'm not going to have a practice round as I think seven rounds in five days did it for me last year,” Day said today.

“From what I've heard, there's not too much change. There's a few more shaved-off areas, but for the most part I played it a fair amount last year.

“A week like this you've got to really watch your energy levels because it can go pretty quick.

“The first three rounds are not too bad, but you get into the weekend you're playing 36-36 (holes). That can be tough – you don't want to stretch yourself too far by getting out and preparing too much.

“I'm going to do a little bit of practising on the range, do some putting and chipping and then try to get out of here. It's one thing that I need to make sure that I'm eating correctly because if I'm not doing that then I'll run out of energy pretty quick. Staying hydrated is obviously key.

“And from there just try and go out and play a little bit. Other than that, my health feels pretty good. I haven't had any problems.”

A year ago, Day won all seven matches, starting with a 3&2 win over Graeme McDowell along with beating Rory McIlroy 1-up in the semi-final and disposing of 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen 5&4 in the final.

This year Day faces American Pat Perez in his opening match, Lee Westwood on day two and fellow Aussie and new Arnold Palmer Invitational champion Marc Leishman in the closing round-robin clash.

“Marc is a good buddy of mine, as most of the other guys are too,” Day said.

“But when it comes time to play match play, you've just got to go out and try to beat them. You're not really friends for 18 holes and then when you get off the course you're back to being mates.

“It's tough because (in) this format you have to think differently. In stroke play you're playing 72 holes and you've got time, you can be patient.

“But in this kind of a format … it's kind of cut-throat where you have to perform right now, make the birdies and get it done.”