LOS ANGELES: Recent wins for Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth have only energized world No.1 Jason Day, who said on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) he’s looking forward to teeing it up against his rivals in the Memorial on Thursday.
Australia’s Day will be competing for the first time since his wire-to-wire victory in the US PGA Tour’s Players Championship.
During his well-deserved break, McIlroy ended a six-month victory drought with a scintillating victory in the Irish Open, while Spieth shook off a Masters meltdown to win at Colonial Country Club on Sunday and edge closer to Day atop the world rankings.
For Day, the successes of his rivals are fuel for his own competitive fire.
“I heard a couple of weeks ago that it bothered Jordan that I was winning tournaments and have the number one spot in the world,” Day said as he prepared for the Jack Nicklaus-hosted tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.
“And it should. It should bother guys who are competitive and want to stay on top as well. I know I’m pushed that way as well when I see Rory or Jordan on top of the world. I want to do that as well. So it’s great to see how they’ve responded so quickly.”
Day, Spieth and third-ranked McIlroy are among 30 of the top 50 in the world in the field for the $8.5 million tournament, which also features number four Bubba Watson, fifth-ranked Rickie Fowler and number eight Dustin Johnson.
Muirfield Village hasn’t been especially hospitable to Day, who called his record on a course where he has never finished in the top 10 “horrific”.
It’s especially disheartening since his wife, Ellie, is from Ohio and Day is a member at Muirfield — a fact the Aussie said has actually hurt him in the tournament.
“I typically play this course when I’m playing in a social round,” he said. “I play it very aggressive. I’m hitting drivers off most tees or taking lines that you wouldn’t take. For some reason, I’ve kind of turned that into the actual tournament, I’m taking similar lines, and you just can’t do that.”
Having decided to change that approach, and with his confidence still high in the wake of his win at TPC Sawgrass, Day believes this is the year he could turn his Memorial fortunes around.
“I feel different this year,” he said. “And I’m hoping for a better result.”