SAN FRANCISCO: World No.1 Jordan Spieth and third-ranked Jason Day are battling just as hard to avoid being changed by success as they are to win this week’s PGA Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
The 20-something stars, who each won breakthrough major titles last year, top the golfing talent at the annual matchup of celebrities and elite players contested over three courses along the Pacific coast.
Spieth, the reigning Masters and US Open champion, has not seen much change since ascending to the top ranking spot.
“When that label is said, I think if you’re in the top five or top 10, it’s the same impact,” Spieth said. “When you’re at the top, there’s a bit of a difference. There’s just more of an interest.
“I don’t think I have to go out of my way to change who I am or what I’m doing. A label shouldn’t change who you are good or bad.”
Australia’s Day, who won his first major title at last year’s PGA Championship, revels in his sameness.
“Life has not changed for me. I’m still the same boring person I was before I won a major,” Day said. “I’m fine with that.”
But the revelation he expected after winning a major and reaching the world number one ranking never came, or at least not in the way he expected it would when he woke up the next morning and felt unchanged.
“I always through there would be this moment, this sense of clarity — I’ve done all I needed to do,” Day said. “Unfortunately it never really happened. That just told me I have to go out and do it more.”
Day has children to consider when planning his schedule and practice routine, something not a factor for his other rivals among the world’s young top four stars — Spieth, second-ranked Rory McIlroy and fourth-rated Rickie Fowler.
“Rickie, Rory and Jordan don’t have kids,” Day said. “And it’s important for me to be there and see them grow up. They will probably be there one day and have the same things I do. Keeping that balance as a professional golfer is difficult.”
But winning one major does not make Day want the next major win any less.
“I’m trying to find a perfect explanation for people to understand what actually ‘wanting it’ means,” he said. “When you want something so bad, you do everything you posibly can. You don’t miss a beat on the process.
“Right now Im just trying to get back to that winning form, grinding as much as I can.”
Day is paired with auto executive Jim Lentz while Spieth will be alongside country music singer Jake Owen when they tee off in Thursday’s opening round.
Actor Justin Timberlake will play alongside England’s Justin Rose while NHL legend Wayne Gretzky plays alongside his son-in-law, Dustin Johnson.
Two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson plays alongside actor Mark Wahlberg while actor Bill Murray joins D.A. Points, who once helped Murray win the title, and J.B. Holmes in paired with actor Chris O’Donnell.