Jason Day: From Sitting On A Bus To Top Of The World
(Augusta, GA) If the hottest player in the game at present needed any reminder how far he’s come in six years then Jason Day needs only to venture across Washington Road.
Six years ago Day was sitting back in his Winnebago touring home in the company of wife Elly, manager Bud Martin and a then sports psychologist.Jason Day (Credit: Getty Images)
Day had qualified for his maiden Masters on the back of capturing the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship, and his maiden PGA Tour triumph. But when most would be breaking down the front gates to get into Augusta National, Day wanted no part in crossing Washington Road.
“Golf is a very, very frustrating game. It really is. I can sympathise with everyone in this room that’s played golf (laughter),” said Day.
“It’s a very difficult game at times, and especially as a professional, I go from a junior and amateur that is, you know, we’re playing for toasters. You’re really playing for nothing other than pride and toasters.”
“As a Junior Amateur, you’re playing for so much fun. You’re always having fun and you’re playing to win, because there’s no money involved. Once you turn professional, everything is based on results. You get knit‑picked in the media. Stats are always up saying he doesn’t drive it straight enough or hit enough greens or whatever it is.”
“But then you have to perform, because if you don’t perform, then you’re off the Tour. And then as time goes on, then you start stressing about, okay, is there enough money up to get my card for next year, and then you start losing a little bit of confidence.”
“Then you start getting frustrated out there and then you don’t practice because you’re frustrated with how you’re playing and it’s a downward spiral from there.”
“So that day when I was sitting in the bus, I was sitting across the road in a bus. Had my agent, my wife and a sports psychologist, and we’re just sitting there, and I’m like, I just do not like the game right now. I’m just having a very, very hard time picking up the golf club to even just enjoy myself out there.”
Somehow with the support of those also in the bus Day pulled himself together crossed the street to shoot an opening, but far from eye-catching 72, but then found himself mobbed at the pedestrian lights on day two having muscled his way from 31st place into second in posting a 64 and still his lowest round in 17 loops of Augusta National.
Day added a third round 72 to remain in second place and then went out on day four carding a 68 to remain second behind Springbok golfer Charl Schwartzel on a day when Rory McIlroy had imploded in letting slip a four stroke lead and posting an 80.
“So we had come to the conclusion that particular day in the van of just going and saying, this might be my last Masters ever playing, so I may as well enjoy it,” said Day.
“So I went out there and finished second (laughter). And then I loved the game again.”
“It can be very ‑‑ golf is a very emotionally ‑‑ it’s emotional highs and lows in the game of golf, and times when you’re going through very, very rough times and you’re hating the game, usually it’s because you’re not working hard enough; and it was.”
“But when you’re thinking about getting rid of caddies and coaches and agents and sometimes wives (laughter) ‑‑ that wasn’t me, trust me. You have to pull your whole time in together.”
“You have to pull them tighter and you have to feed off them a lot more. You have to understand that they are there and you’re hiring them to give you a straight answer.”
“And you pull them in and you listen to them, because they are there for your best interests, not to hurt you, not to give you a hard time. They are there to make you succeed.”
“Going through that tough time, understanding now, my whole team is very, very close, and I understand I don’t pay my guys to give me ‘yes’ answers. I pay them to tell me what’s going on really in my life.”
“And at that time, it was a tough time, but I’m glad I got through it and sitting here today No. 1 in the world.”