Jason Day has dreamt of a world No. 1 ranking since he was a boy, reading a book about Tiger Woods&apos exploits. A few years on, that notion is not far from reality. Perhaps only a week or so away, in the best-case scenario. Day has recovered from the left thumb injury that has been bothering him recently, forcing him to withdraw from the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Florida. His manager Ian Davis says he will definitely play at the Masters at Augusta National next week, unless there is an unexpected setback. With world No. 1 Woods withdrawing from Augusta because of a back injury that has required surgery, there are a cluster of players who can seize the top ranking next week, and Day is one of them according to rankings calculators at the Golf Channel. At No. 4 in the world, he is close enough if he wins the Masters and certain results fall his way. Of course, the likes of Adam Scott (currently No. 2), Swede Henrik Stenson (3) and Phil Mickelson (5) also have an opportunity. Because of Woods&apos dominance of the crown — he has held the No. 1 ranking for a total 677 weeks over his career — none of that group have ever reached No. 1. It is heady territory for the 26-year-old Day, who won the World Golf Championship Accenture matchplay title in February and the World Cup individual section at Royal Melbourne in December as he climbed to his career-high rank of No. 4. Woods&apos absence for an unspecified period has left the door ajar. Stenson actually can scale to No. 1 if he wins in Texas this week, and Scott has been in position to swoop for several weeks now, less than one point behind Woods on the rankings. As for Day, he returns to Augusta National with some doubts about his form after suffering the injury to his thumb. It is not an ideal preparation, but his record at the fabled Georgia course is worth noting; he was third behind Scott last year, leading at stages of the final round, and tied-second in an Australian push in 2011, when Charl Schwartzel&aposs four consecutive birdies sunk the Australians. “I spoke to Jason last week there&aposs no doubt he&aposll be there,&apos&apos said Davis. “There&aposs no reason to believe he won&apost. It&aposs been an incredible journey from where Jason started, to what he&aposs done and what&aposs in front of him. It&aposs very exciting.&apos&apos The Masters begins next Thursday at Augusta National with Scott defending. There are six Australians in the field — Scott, Day, Marc Leishman, John Senden, Steven Bowditch and Oliver Goss, the outstanding Western Australian amateur who received his invitation as a result of making the final of the US amateur championship last year.
Author: Martin Blake / www.golf.org.au