Date: September 21, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Nobody doubts Day now

You never had to look far, or ask many questions, to find what inspired Jason Day.

Infamously, Day told the world in 2007 that he wanted to “take Tiger down” and become world No.1.

Despite flak from just about all quarters for his bold statements about Woods, the hero whose book helped inspire Day, the young Queenslander never swayed, never buckled, never retreated from his words – or his mission.

And true to his word, Day now looks down on the golfing community from the loftiest peak possible.

He’s No.1 in the world.

Yep, the young bloke whose first club came from a Beaudesert tip; the same one who battled aggression issues and alcoholism as a pre-teen; whose single mum mortgaged the family house to send him to golf school; the very man who has fought more injuries in the past four years than an average PGA Tour pro would confront in a long career.

He’s No.1 in the world.

The signs, as always in hindsight, are more obvious.

Day had ridden the proverbial bullet to the top of the list of best players not to have won a major championship with eight top-10s since 2011’s flirt with destiny at the Masters.

And then he came to St Andrews in July.

Day was in one of the most precarious stretches of the Old Course when the wind-powered drama of the third morning was at its most pointed.

While others refused to play in the half-hour of high farce as balls rolled on – and off – greens, Day stumbled to back-to-back bogeys on the 12th and 13th greens.

In fact, his playing partners – Woods and Louis Oosthuizen – didn’t even putt out on 13 before play was postponed.

But Day, true to his steadfast nature, didn’t bat an eyelid at an injustice that would have made many incandescent with rage.

Those were two of only three bogeys Day made all week in The Open, but when his birdie putt on the 72nd hole finished centimetres short of putting him into a playoff for the Claret Jug, he still didn’t complain.

Afterwards, with a plane to catch to the soon-to-be-vital Canadian Open, Day stayed buoyant. Somehow.

“If you look at that (second-round incident) you are just being negative. You can't look at it that way,” he said with great stoicism minutes after an event that clearly means the world to him.

"As soon as you look at things in a negative light you are going to go backwards, so I have to keep looking at the positives.

"But I've been in contention at major championships a lot now, and it just shows I'm doing the right things, and I can't look at it as a negative.

"It'll soon come my way," Day said.

"I've just got to be patient with it."

Never, ever, have truer words been uttered on a golf course.

Day parlayed the subsequent Canadian victory into wins at the US PGA Championship, to knock the monkey off his back, then two more at The Barclays and now the BMW Championship as the trickle of confidence became a raging torrent.

In doing so, he became just the fifth person to win four times in a six-event span on the US PGA Tour.

As it stands, he’s just the third person – after Greg Norman and Woods (four times) to lead the Tour in most birdies and fewest bogeys in the same season.

And he’s still the same bloke as he ever was.

He’s still driven, he’s got much on his to-do list and so many years left to achieve it all.

The principle difference now, is that Day believes he’s going to do it.

Remember, before last year’s World Match Play, Day had won just once on the big tour. He now has seven, just 19 months later.

By any measure, this is an stupendous achievement.

Some, who hadn’t accurately gauged the heat of the fire that burns within Day, thought him to be one of those “potential” guys who will eke out a fine career without becoming a legend.

They’re not saying that now.

Day has blown away fields with not only extraordinary margins, but with almost unimaginable scores against par.

He’s in a league of his own right now.

Let’s not forget the vertigo that cruelled his chances at the US Open, the back and thumb injuries that he saddled to other high finishes in majors.

This is a man who is now fully engaged in the process of turning those “could haves” into “wills”.

Be proud, Australia.

A more humble, honest and driven champion we will struggle to find.