Jason Day: Pre-Championship Press Conference
BETH MAJOR: Welcome to the 114th U.S. Open At Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Here in Pinehurst, North Carolina. We would like to welcome Jason Day to the interview room. Whose playing in his fourth U.S. Open. Last year he was the co-runner-up at Merion. He's had one victory this year in 2014. He's here really experiencing his first time at Pinehurst for the last few days. So Jason, thanks so much for joining us this morning. Can you talk a little bit about what you've seen at Pinehurst and what you've seen of the course so far.
JASON DAY: Yeah, this obviously, I came here about two years ago, I was out doing a Lexus outing here so I only played 12 holes. I really didn't get to fully experience the golf course. I got here last Friday, played 18 holes Friday, nine holes Saturday and nine holes Sunday. Played nine holes yesterday and I'll probably play nine holes again today. So that's three rounds that I'll have under my belt. I think the course is interesting. With how dry everything looks you think you are going to get a lot of run on the fairways, but surprisingly you don't. Obviously down the middle there they have one row of sprinklers, which keep the fairways pretty lush in the middle and then obviously it browns off on the side of the fairways. I was talking to my caddie when we first started playing and I thought the USGA they had been smart and they were watering the middle and not watering the edges so you hit the brown spots and run into the natural areas. But obviously there's just one row of sprinklers, so that was my theory going out the door. But it's an interesting golf course. I never got to play it before the restoration. I could not comment on how the course was before it is now. This course that we're playing this week is the only course that I know of. So with that said, I think it's a very -- I think it's going to be a very difficult course, I think it's going to be a good challenge for all of us. I'm not too sure what the winning score will be, but it's premium on second shots. This is more of a second shot golf course, with -- you have to have a very, very sharp short game this week.
BETH MAJOR: Can you talk a little bit about how you're feeling coming into this week.
JASON DAY: You know, I'm a hundred percent healthy. I just want to get that out there. There's no issues with the thumb. There's no issues with any other part of my body that have been an issue in the past. Definitely looking forward to playing this week. I feel good about my game. I think the biggest thing is to just come up with a game plan that I feel that will kind of compliment my distance with being conservative. Like I said, I feel like you can't be conservative enough in U.S. Opens. Obviously it's a premium to kind of stay out of the natural areas and not go into the bushes there. But once again, excited to be here, I've got another chance to hopefully win my first Major this week and I'm just excited to get the week going.
BETH MAJOR: Great. We'll open it up to questions.
Q. I think I'm right in saying you've only played twice since you won the match play. How frustrating has that been given obviously you were in great form and how annoying has that been to sit out so many tournaments?
JASON DAY: Yeah, well, I commented on the frustration I think it was at Memorial. Like you said, I got off to a great start, won the match play, and to get a thumb injury, it doesn't sound like a lot, it's not like a back or a major part of the body. But unfortunately, as golfers, we have to grip the golf club. So it's just amazing how we underestimate our hands and our fingers and obviously we need that stuff. We need our whole body, but you can kind of get away with hitting -- getting away with playing a few tournaments with a bad back or a bad knee or something like that. But if you can't grip the golf club, then obviously that's an issue. I definitely had a lot of good form going into after the match play, so I was excited to play Doral. I was excited to get the season going. Obviously the knee injury came around, so that was very frustrating. After all was said and done I was out for three months. Numerous shots, cortisone shots and oral steroids and compound creams and you name it, I tried to do it, just to, obviously, legally, I wouldn't do anything crazy. But I tried everything to get back on to the golf course. Because I knew that if I could just get back on the golf course I would play good golf. I played Augusta, I forced it there, that forced me to take off another two to three weeks, just from playing that tournament. I had it pretty heavily strapped there, but I met up with Dr. Graham who is out of Cleveland, he's at the Cleveland Clinic and he did my right wrist in 2009 when I had a tear. He went in there and shot it once and it's been great ever since. I had the opportunity to get to No. 1 in the world at Augusta and I obviously, after the WGC, going to number four in the world, with Tiger being out and Scotty and Henrik just in front of me at the time, I definitely had a chance to get to that No. 1 spot. That's been my dream ever since I was a little kid. So to say I was frustrated was a bit of an under statement. So it was an opportunity that I, unfortunately, missed, but I'm seven in the world now and I have an opportunity this week to win the U.S. Open and shoot up the golf World Rankings and hopefully one day achieve that goal. But definitely excited about being healthy and the opportunity that I have this week.
Q. This tournament is played on Father's Day and you've come close a couple times and you're a dad, would that hold any significant meaning for you to win it on Father's Day?
JASON DAY: My dad got me into golf when I was three. He found a golf club at the rubbish tip and he always knew that I wanted to bang a ball or do something with a ball. He got my golf -- he got me a golf club. He always wanted me to one day be a professional golfer and play on the TOUR and unfortunately my dad died when I was 12. You have a lot of -- you hear a lot of stories like that. He just got cancer and a few months later he passed away. For me to be a dad, to have Dash with me this week to finish on Father's Day, I know watching Rosie last year, his dad passed away and just for him to talk about what the impact he had, his father had in his life, to be able to recognize that and say it in his speeches, you know, it's pretty special. Hopefully one day Dash will be able to see me playing and winning tournaments, not only the U.S. Open, but other tournaments, as well. And we can look back on it together as father and son and really enjoy it and have those memories that go a long way. Because I never really got to -- I never got to experience that with my father as I turned professional. So hopefully I can experience it with him.
Q. On that, do you do two Father's Day, do you do the U.S. and the Australian?
JASON DAY: Well that's totally up to my wife if she wants to give me two presents.
Q. You were talking about No. 1 and if seeing Adam specifically be there, has that given you any extra drive, he's a good mate of yours, he's an Australian and obviously that's something that you know you can compete with him and get to that level.
JASON DAY: It definitely has given me motivation, but with that said, he's a very accomplished player. He's won a lot of big tournaments, big, big tournaments. Obviously winning the Masters last year. So he's a very accomplished player. He's been out here for a very long time. He's won all around the world; Europe, Australia, the PGA TOUR, Asia, you name it, he's pretty much won there. I'm very -- although I feel like I'm a seasoned veteran now, I feel like I'm still pretty young in my career. I still got, I feel like I still got a lot of good solid years ahead of me. That's just only if I really -- if I really want it. That's the biggest thing about really anything that you want to try and achieve, you have to want it, you have to have goals. And ever since I was a little kid I just said earlier, I always wanted to get to that No. 1 spot. It's still on my radar and I think it always will be. I just have to keep working hard, doing the right things and doing the little things that count. Just striving to be better every day, that's all I can ask for. Hopefully, with that, I gain some confidence, gain the results, and slowly achieve that.
Q. Both those guys, the two Australians that have been No. 1, were in their 30s. You've still got plenty of time.
JASON DAY: I'm trying to do that before that, yeah.
Q. Would it be special to be the youngest Australian to do it?
JASON DAY: Yeah, I definitely want to try and achieve that before that. It would be awesome to be the youngest Australian No. 1. It would be awesome just to be No. 1 in general, but I really want to achieve that No. 1 spot before 30. And then get into my real peak of my golfing career and really see what I got. The only thing can I do is just try and give it the best shot I can and just put the opportunities out in front of me. Like I said, it's really up to me, if I really want to achieve it or not.
Q. You spoke earlier about the demands of having a sharp short game this week, compared to other Major Championship venues where you've played, can you talk about how unique the challenge is presented by these turtle back greens.
JASON DAY: Yes, you said on the spot there, the turtle back greens are obviously difficult. I mean it can be very frustrating to play these greens because you can go from one side of the green to the other side pretty quick. You can rack up a big number very fast. I think the frustrating thing about it is that even if you do leave yourself in a pretty easy spot to get up-and-down, it's still difficult, because the grass is different from the normal grass that you kind of get at normal U.S. Opens that we play. Merion was kind of bent grass that we play. Congressional, kind of bent grass. The easier -- it's easier ground to chip off. Whereas in this kind of grass, you get the turtle back greens, the water runs off the greens and pushes the grass down. So every chip shot you have is back into the grain. You try and chip with a sixty, back into the grain, I'm going to say a good amount of those chips you probably are going to catch them a little fat. So then that brings in a lot of imagination, what do you hit? Should I bump and run a 4-iron? Should I bump and run a 7-iron? Am I going to use a three wood or four wood, whatever you have? Am I going to use a putter? The quicker you put it on the ground, may be a little bit more consistent, but then you're on the risk of it running into the grain, bumping up and then maybe not getting up the hill and coming back down to you. I.e. John Daly back here in 2005. I think it was 2005 or 1999. It's one of those years. Once again, I think the biggest thing is to try and, although it sounds very easy, it's easier said than done, try and just get to, -- get yourself in the middle of the greens here and just putt to the holes. Some of these par-3s out there are very difficult. You're coming into a green where the slope is very severe at the front but you're trying to land it just on the front edge, you land it short it's not going to get up to the top of the hill and it's going to roll back down. You land it too far it's going over the back of the green. So it's -- distance control is huge here and then obviously on top of that the short game. But what else is there to say? It's a difficult venue, it's a U.S. Open, and that's how they want it.
Q. You say you're a hundred percent, do you have to be careful about overdoing it and trying to make up for lost time this year or are you going to stick to your schedule and what you're going to do?
JASON DAY: Yeah, I'm still trying to be on top of it. I'm icing my thumb and taking anti-inflammatories every day and all that other stuff, too, just to make sure that it doesn't pop up again. But there was no time line to where, okay, I get the shot, oh, I feel great, oh, I'll see you in five years. Or a year or whatever it is. There's no real timeline. If it's going to pop up, it's going to pop up. I've been playing golf for a long time now, 20 something years, and over time it just finally happened and started hurting. So who knows what's going to happen, but I'm going to go back and I'm going to prepare the best I can. I've already said that I'm going to be playing three rounds here before the tournament. I'll probably play nine holes today, which makes it three rounds. I've been here since last Friday, I've been practicing and trying to prepare the best I can. So the workload itself is very heavy, but that's just how I normally prepare for Major Championships. That's how I feel -- that's what I feel like I need to do to best prepare to win a golf tournament.
Q. The Australians will be playing in the World Cup shortly after you're done on Friday. Is the World Cup something you can use as a distraction, take your mind off things for a couple hours, is it something you would follow anyway or is it something that's like wait until next week after I'm done golfing?
JASON DAY: Well, I think anything kind of to distract yourself from this is huge. I think the biggest thing is just when you're sitting at home, just kind of thinking about a lot of stuff, it's a good distraction. But obviously I'm kind of pumped to see how Australia does in the World Cup. It's going to be an exciting World Cup. I haven't read too much into it, but it should be fun to watch.
Q. Being so close last year as runner-up does that give you any extra spark for this year's U.S. Open?
JASON DAY: I've been close in a few Majors now. So close that you can almost taste it. It's disappointing and encouraging at the same time. It really is all how you look at things. I can stew on it and say, you know, I kind have blown a few, blown a major or two or I had a real opportunity to win and I just didn't quite get there. But I look at it as experience. I feel like I'll get there one day. I just have to keep giving myself the opportunities. If I can put myself there more and more and more, it's bound to happen, I just feel like it's bound to happen. I definitely want to win a U.S. Open. I think this is a true test of golf; not only mentally, not only physically, but just to show what you've got, because this is -- U.S. Opens typically are the hardest golf course that we play on TOUR every year. If you can mentally stay patient and just keep yourself in the fight until it's all over, you have a shot at winning. That's what I'm going to try and do. I'm not going to give up this week, I'm going to keep fighting until it's over and hopefully that's good enough.
BETH MAJOR: We wish you well this week in your pursuit of the championship and thank you for joining us this morning.
JASON DAY: Thank you.
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