Date: June 14, 2017
Author: Martin Blake

US Open: Day welcomes challenge

Jason Day has embraced the challenge of the US Open at Erin Hills this week, despite some negativity coming out of parts of the field of 156 players.

Day said today he believed players already complaining about the fescue rough were unlikely to succeed.

"Usually when you hear people complain, it's one less guy you have to worry about at the start of the week. Their attitude makes up for at least 25 per cent of performance, and if you have the right attitude going in for the week, great. But you've still got to execute and know that there's a lot of other players that have good attitudes as well that are coming into the week.''

Day likes the course, which is being used for a US Open for the first time. American professional Kevin Na caused a stir this week with an Instagram post in which he pilloried the length of the rough at Erin Hills, but it did not ring true with Day, nor with Rory McIlroy, who said the deeper rough was so wide that it should not be an issue other than for a terrible shot.

"I've heard nothing but great stuff about this golf course and how much everyone's attitude is great at the start of the week,'' Day said.

"Everyone is going to run into some sort of trouble out there, everyone is. It's a matter of how you handle yourself in that moment to prepare yourself to greatness, and like you said, I'd much rather the course harder than easier. Tough conditions, windy conditions, rain whatever it is, as long as it's harder, I feel like I play a lot better in conditions like that.

"But it brings in the mental aspect, as well, and the USGA, they do a fantastic job not only testing the physical side but the mental side of things, but also the whole game and the state of your game. The person that wins at the end of the week they want everything firing right at the right time.

"Getting back to the question about having tougher conditions and that bringing in the mental part of your game, it brings in the desire how much you desire to win the actual tournament, itself. Because everyone has a breaking point and a limit or threshold that they'll actually reach. And they'll go, 'OK, do I actually want to push it even more or do I have enough in the tank to just – I can just kind of cruise it in'. And those moments are the moments when you learn the most about yourself, whether you can actually push more than you've ever pushed before in your life.

“And that's why I like tougher conditions, because it constantly tests that barrier to see if I can push even further and further and further mentally and physically with regards to playing tough venues such as the US Open like this.''

Fellow Queenslander Adam Scott also expressed the opinion that the course was fair, in the sense that the fairways are generous.

"There's a little bit of the unknown, of course, first time here at Erin Hills, but a lot has been made about the rough, which is incredibly long, but there's a huge space in between that long rough that we get to hit it," Scott said.

"So if you're playing well hopefully you won't be out there too many times. And I think there's enough of a challenge anyway, but if you're playing poorly at a US Open and you're hitting it poor enough to go in that rough here, then you probably weren't going to do too well at the US Open no the matter where it was."

Day has put a two-iron into his bag this week, shaped to mimic a one-iron, for safer tee shots. He plans on tossing out his three-wood. He knows that it is going to be a grind, as US Opens tend to be.

"And with the weather conditions, it doesn't look like it's going to blow too ridiculously hard, if I'm looking at the forecast now,'' he said.

"But with that said, I think if we can have a little bit more runout, it would fit perfectly because I can hit my 2-iron would go 270, 275 yards off the tee and then run another 30 yards and it would be 300-plus yards, and that would be perfect around here, because I could be very super aggressive with the lines, and I don't have to pull that driver too much. But with the wetter conditions you're going to have to pull the driver more than the 2-iron this week. I'm going to give it a shot over the next two days, and I'll find out more after Wednesday.''

Day's previous-best finish in a US Open is second behind McIlroy in 2011 and again in 2013 behind Justin Rose. Today, he said he took solace from the fact his only major win, the 2015 US PGA Championship, was also in the state of Wisconsin.

"There's a lot of good memories coming back. The people are fantastic. I love the people up here – very, very nice, very genuine people. If I pick one up here, great. That would be a really neat thing to be able to win my first two majors in the state of Wisconsin. Definitely like the golf courses up here, they're tremendous golf courses, but I'm just trying to do the best job I can.

"I know there's a lot of guys out there that are trying to win either their first, second, or whatever number it is. And I think everyone's kind of on a level playing field right now and the golf course is great. The weather is going to be either bad or good, doesn't matter, we've just got to go out there and do the best job we can. I'm excited about the week."