MIAMI: World No.1 Jason Day hopes that advice from Tiger Woods will come in handy at The Players Championship this week as he attempts to break his duck in the tournament regarded as golf’s unofficial fifth major.
The 28-year-old Australian has forged a close relationship with Woods in recent months with the former world number one regularly offering advice via text messages in the buildup to events.
Woods, a two-time winner at TPC Sawgrass, will not be not competing in Ponte Vedra Beach as he battles his way back from an extended layoff after back surgery.
But Woods’s influence could well be significant if Day mounts a successful challenge for the $1.89 million winner’s check.
“Some of the shots I hit, some of the decisions I make are because of what me and Tiger have talked about in the past,” Day said Tuesday.
“If there’s a guy that you want to pick someone’s brain, it’s him. Did it for so long, did it for many, many years, won so many golf tournaments. He knows what it’s like to win in the modern era.”
Day said he often turns to Woods for motivational advice, revealing that he is hoping to emulate the sort of mental toughness which became synonymous with Woods during the 14-time major winner’s peak.
“If I’m looking for a bit of a pep talk or something like that, I always text him. He always ends with like, ‘Go get it done.’ You got to earn the wins, they’re not given to you,” Day revealed.
“It’s a lot about just trying to get better mentally and that mental toughness that he had for so long.”
Day, the 2015 PGA Championship winner, says a victory at The Players Championship could ultimately end up shaping his legacy.
“It’s a golf tournament that you really do want to win and have it on your resume at the end of your career because it’s such a huge event,” he said.
“This is one of those tournaments where, if you’re on the border of getting into the Hall of Fame, this could kick it over and get you into the Hall of Fame.”
But Day faces a daunting challenge from a field that includes all of the world’s top 20 players, including his nearest rival in the rankings Jordan Spieth, playing his first tournament since his spectacular Masters meltdown last month.
Among the other challengers is newly minted Masters champion Danny Willett, who plans to use his victorious campaign at Augusta as the blueprint for his assault on TPC Sawgrass.
“I’ll approach it the same as I approached Augusta,” said Willett.
“Do the bits I can do and take care of my little jobs every day, and then hopefully if you do all that you can hopefully shoot some good numbers.”
Defending champion Rickie Fowler meanwhile warned that accuracy will be the key to victory on a demanding layout he regards as one of the toughest courses in golf.
“You have to be pretty spot on,” Fowler said.
“It’s a very fine line at this golf course. The targets and the driving areas are very small, you don’t have much room.
“You’re playing against the best players in the world, so someone’s got to break it at some point.”