Date: July 28, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Day running on empty for PGA

World number one Jason Day says he is "running on empty" as he prepares to defend his US PGA Championship crown.

The Australian has played just one practice round on Baltusrol’s Lower Course after spending Tuesday night in hospital with his wife, who had an allergic reaction.

Day, 28, could lose his number one spot if he finishes 29th or worse and Dustin Johnson is in the top two.

“I'm just a little bit under the weather,” said Day, who is playing a third consecutive week for a rare time on his schedule.

“I've got to really try and manage my patience out there, because I have very little patience right now. For some reason, every time I get a little bit under the weather, I've got zero patience.”

Day, whose magical run to the summit of world golf gathered steam when he won his first major at Whistling Straits last year, looked clear atop the rankings in early June.

But with Dustin Johnson similarly breaking through for his first major championship at the US Open and subsequently throwing down a series of great results, the worm has turned.

Day enters this week with only two scenarios that could dethrone him from the No.1 ranking – if Johnson wins and he can’t finish at least tied second, or if Johnson is solo second and he can’t be 28th or better.

At the majors since his win last August, the Queenslander has finished tied 10th in the Masters, tied ninth in the US Open and tied 22nd at The Open.

“It's very, very difficult to win golf tournaments,” he said.

“I think everyone expects if you're in the lead, or if you're a favourite to win, you will win, and if you don't, then you're in a slump. It's not the case.”

And the rankings race is close enough to potentially put Day off his game – or encourage his best game.

“It is added motivation for sure. Obviously I want to keep the world No.1 spot, but I can't focus on it too much,” Day said.

“The biggest thing for me is to focus on what I need to do to play well.

“I can't attach myself to the thought of keeping it, I have to focus on trying to prepare the best I can and execute and play well.”

Day was delighted with his closing 67 at last week’s Canadian Open where he couldn’t defend his crown, but made huge inroads after his flat Open Championship at Troon a week earlier.

A string of late birdies as he came to grips with North American greens again made all the difference to his confidence and mindset before his first major title defence.

“I know it is going to be really hot so I need to slowly ease my way into it after the last two days in Canada were confidence building.”

Day leads a nine-strong Australian tilt with Adam Scott, Aaron Baddeley, Greg Chalmers, Marcus Fraser, Scott Hend, Matt Jones, Marc Leishman and John Senden also in the field for the year’s final major championship.

Tee times for Rd1: 

First hole:

7:00 AM  (9.00 PM AEST)  Bradley Dredge  Patton Kizzire     Mark R. Brown

7:10 AM                              K.J. Choi               Tommy Sharp     Jon Curran

7:20 AM                              Jason Kokrak      Josh Speight        Kristoffer Broberg

7:30 AM                              Darren Clarke     David Lingmerth               Daniel Berger

7:40 AM                              Aaron Baddeley Kevin Kisner        Emiliano Grillo

7:50 AM                              John Daly             Padraig Harrington           Vijay Singh

8:00 AM                              Victor Dubuisson              Marcus Fraser    James Hahn

8:10 AM                              Soren Kjeldsen    Billy Hurley III     Scott Hend

8:20 AM                              Matt Jones          Rikard Karlberg  Charley Hoffman

8:30 AM                              Robert Streb       Vaughn Taylor    Kevin Na

8:40 AM                              Gregory Bourdy Jonas Blixt           Roberto Castro

8:50 AM                              Ross Fisher          Omar Uresti        Greg Chalmers

9:00 AM                              Zac Blair               Smylie Kaufman David Muttitt

12:15 PM                            Joe Summerhays               Yuta Ikeda           Colt Knost

12:25 PM                            Ryan Palmer       Rob Labritz          Gary Woodland

12:35 PM                             Alex Noren          Andrew Johnston              Scott Piercy

12:45 PM                            Shaun Micheel    Rich Berberian Jr.             Rocco Mediate

12:55 PM                            Tony Finau          Anirban Lahiri     Matthew Fitzpatrick

1:05 PM (3.05 PM AEST) Danny Lee           Matt Kuchar        Luke Donald

1:15 PM                              Jim Furyk             Francesco Molinari          Shane Lowry

1:25 PM                              Bubba Watson   Jordan Spieth      Sergio Garcia

1:35 PM                              Patrick Reed       Justin Rose          Charl Schwartzel

1:45 PM                              Danny Willett     Dustin Johnson   Henrik Stenson

1:55 PM                              Graeme McDowell           Webb Simpson   Louis Oosthuizen

2:05 PM                              Ryan Moore        Kyle Reifers         Ben Polland

2:15 PM                              Mitch Lowe         Kevin Streelman Young-han Song

10th hole:                               

7:00 AM                              Chris Kirk             Wyatt Worthington II      Freddie Jacobson

7:10 AM                              Jason Bohn         Jeunghun Wang Brian Gaffney

7:20 AM                              J.B. Holmes         Brian Stuard        Hideki Matsuyama

7:30 AM                              Tyrrell Hatton     Harris English      Matt Dobyns

7:40 AM                              Rickie Fowler      Ernie Els               Zach Johnson

7:50 AM                              Chris Wood         Branden Grace   Jimmy Walker

8:00 AM                              Justin Thomas    Rafa Cabrera-Bello          Paul Casey

8:10 AM                              Brooks Koepka   Brandt Snedeker               Lee Westwood

8:20 AM                              Adam Scott         Keegan Bradley  Jamie Donaldson

8:30 AM                              Jason Day            Phil Mickelson    Rory McIlroy

8:40 AM                              Bill Haas               Jamie Lovemark Andy Sullivan

8:50 AM                              George Coetzee Rod Perry            Hideto Tanihara

9:00 AM                              Nicolas Colsaerts              Ryan Helminen  

12:15 PM                            Michael Block     Harold Varner III               John Senden

12:25 PM                            Kevin Chappell    Johan Kok            Troy Merritt

12:35 PM                            Russell Henley    Fabian Gomez    Thorbjorn Olesen

12:45 PM                            Rich Beem           Steve Stricker     David Toms

12:55 PM                            James Morrison Brandon Stone   Billy Horschel

1:05 PM                              Jason Dufner      Martin Kaymer   Y.E. Yang

1:15 PM                              Bernd Wiesberger            Byeong Hun An  Brendan Steele

1:25 PM                              Marc Leishman  Kiradech Aphibarnrat       Russell Knox

1:35 PM                              Jim Herman         Thongchai Jaidee              Thomas Pieters

1:45 PM                              Soomin Lee         William McGirt   Joost Luiten

1:55 PM                              Brad Lardon        K.T. Kim               Peter Malnati

2:05 PM                              Daniel Summerhays         Cameron Tringale             Rick Schuller

2:15 PM                              Brad Ott               Bryce Molder      Si Woo Kim