Jason Day is confident he is finally over his nagging thumb injury and will be able to contend at this year’s US Open at Pinehurst, North Carolina, in two weeks.
Day made his comeback following a lengthy layoff at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, at the weekend and finished in a tie for 37th along with Victorians Marc Leishman and Aaron Baddeley.
The event saw the early breakthrough of 22-year-old Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama, who scored his debut victory when he beat American Kevin Na at the first extra hole of a sudden death play-off after both had finished 13 under par in regulation play.
World No.1 Adam Scott continued his excellent form following last week’s win and finished with a share of fourth alongside Chris Kirk at 10 under the card, two shots behind Bubba Watson who held outright third.
Day said his thumb was now "totally fine". The problem had been diagnosed as overuse.
"At the start of the injury, I thought it would be a two or three week break, and it will be fine, but it just gradually got worse and worse," Day said. "So I’m glad to put this behind me and I can just focus on golf and focus on the second half of the year and hopefully produce a lot of good golf."
He said he had been frustrated sitting on the sidelines especially after his win in the World Match Play Championship in February.
"It was really frustrating, because everything felt great. My whole body felt great except for one thing, my thumb," he said.
"And you don’t understand…you can probably get away with maybe a bad back or a bad knee, but if you can’t hold the club, then that’s obviously not fun. You underestimate your hands and the fingers.
"I’m just excited that I can actually swing a club without pain."
He admitted he had played too long after first feeling pain which had prolonged the issue but had been determined to line up in the US Masters, where he eventually finished tied for 20th.
"I went and played Augusta and I kind of forced myself to play Augusta," Day said. "It was sore then. And that probably set me two to three weeks back in my schedule to come back. So all said and done, with Augusta mixed in there, I’ve been out for three months, and that’s a long time."
He now believes he will be fit for the US Open but is unsure about how competitive he will be with so many missed tournaments.
"It’s hard to say, because you want to play well in every tournament. You want to try and play every tournament. Tiger does it, why can’t you do it? It’s obviously harder than (you think)," he said.
"I’ve been practising and playing a lot of golf and trying to prepare the best I can. And that’s all I really could do.
"The US Open is obviously huge. I was at Pinehurst years two ago, played nine holes there and I love the changes. I’m looking forward to the challenge.
”I know you’ll require a lot of good short game around there. I’ve been working on my short game very, very hard over this last week."
Day said his thumb began to worry him before the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in early February but he was loathe to seek treatment.
"It would come and go during the rounds and there would be pain. It started hurting before Pebble as well and it got gradually worse and worse.
"I didn’t think of it but after the round it was really kind of tender, but I didn’t tell anyone about it because I thought it would just go away," he said.
"And that’s kind of me being a little stupid sometimes. I don’t tell my team that something is sore, and then after a while, after a month or so, then it just gradually gets worse and worse.
"I’ve experienced it, and now I just need to be smart with injuries because I’m 26, but I feel like I’ve been out here for a while and I don’t heal as fast as when I was 18.
"I sound like an old man, but I’m really not so I’ve just got to manage it better when I do start feeling that I’m getting an injury so it doesn’t turn into something big where I’m sitting out for three months."
By: Robert Grant