Jason Day wins Players Championship wire-to-wire
Extends his lead as world No. 1
Records seventh win in 17 starts
His domination has been labeled “Tiger-esque,” but Jason Day says it’s not enough.
The world No. 1 won the Players Championship wire-to-wire Sunday for his 10th PGA Tour win, claiming the $1.89 million first prize.
Day’s Sawgrass stroll was his seventh victory in 17 starts, a stretch reminiscent of Tiger Woods in his heyday.
“That’s Tiger-esque, that kind of a run,” fellow Australian Adam Scott said.
“You can see there’s that calmness inside him, calm confidence, and the way he’s walking around, he’s got that kind of unbeatable look about him.”
However, Day, who won his maiden major at last year’s U.S. PGA, is hungry for more – pointing at Woods’ 79 PGA Tour wins, or even Phil Mickelson’s 42.
“I look at that 10 PGA Tour wins, and I say to myself, ‘That’s not enough.’ It’s just 10. I want more than 10,” the 28-year-old said.
“I want to be able to be looked back on and know that he was one of the greats in the game.”
‘Nothing beats this feeling’
Day first became world No. 1 in September 2015 and has since swapped top spot with American Jordan Spieth.
Victory at Sawgrass – by four shots from American Kevin Chappell – was crucial in cementing his place at the head of golf, he says.
“I’ve never been more motivated to be No. 1 in the world,” Day said.
“(But) at the end of the day, it’s very stressful being the No. 1 player in the world.
“You’re in the limelight a lot. You’ve got more things to do when you get to tournaments, more things to do off weeks.
“But I wouldn’t change it in any way because this is exactly where I want to be, and I want to try and stay here as long as I can while I can, because nothing beats this feeling.”
Day joked that the real reason he is so motivated to “keep pushing” was to stay ahead of Woods, who is rehabilitating after a third back operation.
“Tiger says he’s going to kick my butt when he comes back,” joked Day.
“So I’m going to try to extend that gap, so if he does come back and he’s turned into Tiger Woods again, I’ve got to kind of watch my behind.”
‘Winning is never enough’
Day and the 14-time major champion have become close friends, and Woods will often offer the Australian motivational advice.
Before the final round of the Players, Woods texted Day to remind him to “stay in your world” and remember “all 18 holes are important, not just 16, 17 and 18.”
“It’s been an amazing kind of journey for me to be able to idolize him as a junior guy and growing up, and now I’m good mates with him and I get to pick his brain about what he did when he was dominating,” Day said.
Day, who lost his father to cancer when he was 12, puts his recent rise down to his work ethic and meticulous attention to detail allied to a psychological shift – realizing he was good enough to compete on a par with the likes of Scott, Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
“I had to fail a lot to learn a lot about myself and learn a lot about my game to really kind of propel me forward to be in a position like this,” said Day, who was devastated to miss out on a playoff for the 2015 British Open when his birdie putt on the final green stopped inches short at St. Andrews.
That was the catalyst, however, and he began his streak with victory at the Canadian Open the following week before winning his first major at Whistling Straits and adding the prestigious Barclays and BMW Championship during the FedEx Cup playoffs shortly after.
“Winning is never enough, and I’ve got to try and do it as much as I can before my time is over,” he said.